Teaching Introductory Materials Science with Pluto Demos!

07/28/2023, 2:30 PM2:40 PM UTC


In this talk, I'll share my experience with Julia in a new (to me) context: in a classroom of first-year undergraduate students who have no coding experience! I plan to use Pluto notebooks to make a series of interactive computational (and low- or no-code) demonstrations of concepts from the introductory materials science course at Carnegie Mellon which I am teaching in the Spring 2023 semester. I look forward to sharing the resources I create as well as my reflections on the experience!


In Spring 2023, I will teach the introductory materials science and engineering course at Carnegie Mellon University to approximately 80 students. These first-year undergraduate students have no programming prerequisites. I plan to use Pluto notebooks to create some interactive computational demonstrations of various ideas in the course, and potentially also to integrate further exploration of these into homework assignments for the course. As one example, I have already created a notebook with an interactive (thanks to PlotlyJS) "make-your-own-Ashby-plot" activity, where students can plot values of different materials properties against each other (using simple PlutoUI dropdown menus) and hypothesize about the mechanisms underlying the trends they observe.

By the time JuliaCon happens, I will know how all this went! In this talk (sort of like an "extended experience" talk from someone who't not actually new to Julia but is new to teaching with it), I will share with the community what went well, what didn't work, lessons learned, and thoughts on how to improve/adapt going forward! I hope this will be useful for others thinking about using Julia/Pluto in similar educational contexts.

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