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MIT at WSC (June 2008)

Two weeks of amazing Weirdness!

As we arrived at the airport early on an early Friday morning, we were greeted by the welcoming and friendly faces of our hosts. Since it was a Friday and school was still in session we decided to go and check out the environment we were going to be in for the next two weeks. The first day at school felt strange. We were being introduced to various students and teachers and the whole time we were trying to remember all of their names and subjects. Furthermore the Darmstadt Lichtenberg Schule was huge and filled with students of various ages doing diverse things. The most interesting meeting of that day was with Dr. Dlabal, the teacher in charge of the next week's Project Week and Weird Science Club. He greeted us with a smile and gave us a list of activities and events going on during the project week and outside of school activities, making us come to the conclusion that the Weird Science Club was indeed weird. Being jetlagged as we were and half asleep our minds were immediately awoken at the idea of making tea in the lab, measuring the information carried by photons, developing secure coding for quantum computers and being involved into the development of many other insane and interesting ideas!
Hence on our first day we discovered that our stay in Darmstadt would be divided in two weeks: a week of helping students with projects and a week of teaching. During Project Week we got to see the lab facilities of the school, help assemble together a HPLC and saw a better and more distilled version of tea or T7 , we got to go on a science fair trip to Mannheim, and had a visit at Merck and Technical Universität of Darmstadt.
The project week was interesting and at times confusing but most importantly very intellectually stimulating. We got involved into most of the students projects and got confused on some parts of it such as finding the information that a photon carries: the more I thought about this the more confused my mind became but the more interesting the idea of information through cimg1033photons turned out to be.
The second week was composed of teaching. I taught mathematics to most of the students with one lesson in Physics and one in Astronomy. Teaching in the German school system for me was somewhat different from teaching at MIT's Educational Studies Program. The first difference is understanding if the students understand the English language. I became surprised to see that most students knew English quite well despite the fact that it was not their first language. Secondly the level of the students and the school system was somewhat different than the system in the US. I felt that students were introduced to math in a somewhat more rigorous approach and they are taught more in depth about probability and stochastic systems. I was sad to see though that there were some similarities in the systems such as the students not having any astronomy classes. Therefore I thought it would be interesting to give an astronomy presentation about the lifetime of stars.
Hence the two weeks in Darmstadt passed by quickly especially since we were always in contact by a group of students from the Weird Science Club. I felt as if I were in a little bubble. I enjoyed it because the students had that strange element that gave me the “MIT” feeling. It is the element of curiosity, of intellectual questioning and of wanting to learn and be involved in more things but at the same time enjoying oneself at everything that they do.

Daniela Çako,Undergradute Student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Two weeks in Darmstadt

Weird and science usually come hand in hand, but you rarely find them so brightly entangled or intertwined as we did in the Lichtenbergschule in Darmstadt, Germany.

The Weird Science Club, supervised by the genial Dr. Dlabal, brings together a most extraordinary collection of smart and motivated students who have become reputed for their flair in participating and winning in different science competitions throughout the country.

It was this group of students who received us warmly in their homes and in their school and they made of our stay in Darmstadt a most memorable experience.

From visiting castles, going to open rock concerts, attending rocket science competitions in Mannheim and meeting a recent graduate of the TUD who explained to us with his work in cryptanalysis and the development of a quantum secure encryption system.

It was extremely interesting to notice how the members of the Weird Science Club have such a deeply spread and wide variety of interests and that they pursue them passionately, even when that means meeting regularly with professors and college students that have had many more years of preparation and experience.

For example, it was impressive how they are doing research on their own, delving deeply into the realms of the abstract, like the complex mathematics involved in cryptography to be able to understand different cryptosystems and trying to improve their security with a great vision that tries to solve one of the most pressing contemprary matters in computer security: finding quantum secure algorithms for future cryptosystems.

I found deeply inspiring to find students of all ages working on current issues as this, not being stopped by lack of knowledge or preparation, and willing to contribute to the world with their intellect from such a young age. Me and I can assure that the other MIT students learned more from them than we expected or imagined.

A team as impressive as the Weird Science Club is hard to find, because it needs the interest of the students, a driving, supporting and inspirational teacher like Dr. Dlabal, the wit and intelligence of the group, the will to work hard and the ability to dream about the abstract and enjoy the sciences in their fully applied beauty.

I am looking forward to see what this group of students continues to achieve and I am sure that each and one of them has a great potential that should they decide to pursue their interests in their respective fields, they can make great contributions to the scientific world. I sure hope that MIT and the Lichtenbergschule can cooperate with each other to continue inspiring students and letting them experiment with their curiosity.

Adriana C. Vazquez, MIT class of 2011, Mathematics and Computer Science

letzte Änderung: 05.01.2010
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