Lindsay Wildlife App
The Lindsay Wildlife Museum Encounters App, developed in 2014 by a group of Saint Mary’s computer science students, was a collaborative project between the Lindsay Wildlife Museum and Saint Mary’s College. It was made possible by a SENCER-ISE grant supporting STEM learning through civic engagement. The project was part of the Lindsay Wildlife Museum’s mission of informal science education and its effort to broaden its educational outreach into the surrounding community. The project also represents a mission on the part of Saint Mary’s College to (1) make the expertise of Saint Mary’s College faculty and students available to the community as a resource, and (2) give advanced Math/CS students at Saint Mary’s College the opportunity to build upon their technical skills in real-life working environments.
The goal of this project was to create an app which connected the greater San Francisco Bay Area residents with local wildlife and wildlife habitats in order to promote a harmonious and enriched relationship between these communities and the nature surrounding them. Prominent features of the app included a field guide of the local wildlife as well as functionality to document wildlife encounters in fields notes (which can be shared via social media). The app also highlighted opportunities to interact with wildlife through the educational programs and services offered by the Lindsay Wildlife museum.
The Saint Mary’s development team worked closely with the Lindsay Wildlife Museum on design. The team learned about LWM’s mission and history, its existing programs and projected areas of growth. These discussions led to concrete design concepts for the purpose of supporting LWM’s outreach and educational programs through mobile technology.
During the development of the app, students gained technical fluency in working with SQL, Xcode, SDK frameworks, Tkinter for Python and various vector graphics editors. Students also gained experience communicating technical information to a wide range of audiences.
In the testing phase, the team worked with Lindsay Wildlife Museum to select focus group beta testers, to create questionnaires for collecting qualitative feedback, and to polish the app in response. During the two-semester-long collaboration, students on the team had the unique opportunity to work with a real client and participate in the full product life cycle from design and development to testing and then, finally, deployment. Most importantly, students were able to see their classroom knowledge translate into a product that is meaningful and enriching to the local community.
Social Justice in Jan Term
In this course, students learned about California Prison Realignment and used statistical methodologies for analyzing the related data. The class worked with data provided by the Marin County Probation Office, as well as from the dashboard of the Chief Probation Officers of California. Students summarized their analysis and findings in final reports, in which they outlined significant patterns in the data and the real life impact/implications of such patterns. The focus of the reports included (1) how and why sentencing patterns differ by region, (2) the relationship between risk assessment and recidivism among the realignment population, and (3) the distribution of crimes among the realignment population.
This course had a big impact — mathematically, ethically, socially — on both the instructors and students, and we hope to offer another Jan Term course like it in the near future.
(SMC)² = Saint Mary’s College Summer Math Camp
In Spring 2010, Prof. Chris Jones and Prof. Weiwei Pan were awarded a Dolciani Mathematics Enrichment Grant to establish a week-long residential summer mathematics enrichment program for high school students from the San Francisco Bay Area and surrounding counties. Our program, Saint Mary’s College of California Summer Mathematics Camp, or (SMC)2, aimed to serve local mathematically-gifted high school students who are currently under-served by state and nationally-run mathematics and science enrichment programs. The goal of the program was to generate interest in mathematical ideas and processes through intensive study of mathematical topics outside of the standard high school curricula. Through our program we aimed to have a direct, positive and lasting effect on college bound students’ academic careers as well as on their perception of mathematics as a practice and a profession.
(SMC)2 ran in both 2011 and 2012 on the Saint Mary’s College campus, each year with around 20 campers, two faculty members (Profs. Jones and Pan) and two undergraduate mentors. In both years, campers and camp staff were housed in Assumption Hall, Saint Mary’s College’s designated science living-learning community dormitory, and camp activities made use of a number of facilities on campus. During 2011, we were funded by our Dolciani Mathematics Enrichment Grant and Saint Mary’s College’s matching funds. During 2012, we were supported solely by Saint Mary’s College. In both years, we covered the full costs for our campers.