Instructional Support at Princeton
Being Skeptical About Science
This Fall 2014, I'm working with science writer and Princeton instructor Michael Lemonick on Writing About Science. I'm running discussions and activities about statistical reasoning and scientific skepticism, to develop students' abilities to critically evaluate claims and assumptions made in scientific writing, and to determine whether these are backed by the evidence.
Art of Engineering
Since Spring 2014, I've been working with Maria Garlock on Structures and the Urban Environment, a course that introduces liberal arts and engineering students to key principles of structural and civil engineering. A central focus of this course is for students to experience engineering as a creative discipline that allows for aesthetic exploration within constraints. Students examine the interplay between elegance and efficiency, and explore the idea of structural art.
I worked on designing and implementing clicker questions, interactive lecture demonstrations, and lab and recitation activities aimed to engage students further in the art and science of structural engineering. I am a co-recipient of an NSF IUSE grant towards further developing interactive pedagogies for this course, assessing these materials, and disseminating them widely.
Here's a Princeton news article highlighting some of my initial work with this course, and a WIRED article I wrote on the relation between curvature and stiffness, inspired by topics covered in this course.
Investigative Labs and Blogs in a Freshman Seminar
In Fall 2013, I worked with Janine Nunes on the freshman seminar Emerging Micro and Nano-Engineered Technologies, where I helped incorporate blogging assignments and investigative labs, in which students used Arduinos and lab tools to investigate course concepts through guided inquiry.
Science Communication and Outreach at Princeton
Janine and I also collaborated on this WIRED article in which we put a leaf under an electron microscope to examine its water repelling surface.
We also worked together with Howard Stone, Bonnie Bassler, Daniel Steinberg, and Omelan Stryzak on the 2013 Holiday Science Lecture aimed at children and science enthusiasts of all ages. The theme was 'Faster Than the Blink of an Eye'. Here's a writeup by Princeton and by Harvard. For fun, here's a video of me shaking my face filmed by Janine in ultra-high speed.
Physics Teaching at Rutgers
In Spring 2013, I co-taught Concepts of Physics for the Humanities and Social Sciences along with Michael Manhart, Simon Knapen, Deepak Iyer, under the guidance of Saurabh Jha. We redesigned this course from the ground up, to introduce over 100 students to concepts in renewable energy, quantum physics, astronomy, and emergent phenomena. Here's the Syllabus and Twitter feed.
I've taught physics to approximately 580 undergraduate students in the following courses at Rutgers University, and was awarded the Richard J. Plano Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award in 2010.
As an instructor:
Physics 106: Concepts of physics for the humanities and social sciences, Spring 2013
Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Building Robots with a Sense of Balance, New Jersey Governor's School of Technology and Engineering, Summer 2012
As a teaching assistant:
Physics 193: Physics for the Sciences I, Fall 2012 (Recitation and Lab)
Physics 204: General Physics II, Summer 2010
Physics 272: Honors Physics II, Spring 2010
Physics 271: Honors Physics I, Fall 2009
Physics 203: General Physics I, Summer 2009
Physics 124: Analytical Physics I-B, Spring 2009 (Recitation and mini-labs)
Physics 193: Physics for the Sciences I, Fall 2008
Physics 203: General Physics I, Summer 2008
Physics 115: Extended Analytical Physics I, Fall 2007
I consistently received strong student teaching evaluations, and in 2010, I received the Richard J. Plano Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Here are some responses from my students when asked what they liked best about the course, and what they learned.
"He has helped me be more confident in physics and be less discouraged by abstract ideas and concepts. He has really made my freshman year much better because his recitation was one of the only classes I actually really enjoyed."
"Aatish; he has a complete understanding of the material and is very helpful to any questions or issues you have. Presents material clearly and uses great examples to teach the concept at hand. "
"Aatish is a good instructor and he knew the answers to all of the classes asked. He was always willing to help out and he succeeded in making things clear for people. Of course, while his job is more to teach the problem solving rather than the physics itself, he was actually ahead of the professor at times when we were covering some of the simpler topics--and we were able to learn just as much from him as the professor."
"The professor is one of the best I've ever seen at Rutgers. I went to every lecture and took notes. I hardly read the book, and I did very well in the class, thanks to him. He's a GREAT professor!"
"Taught me to look at things generally at first and go back to see if your answers make sense in the real world."
"Taught me to reduce complex problems into its simple parts and solve them individually."
"The absolute best TA ever for Physics at Rutgers. He should DEFINITELY continue teaching it."
"Aatish is the best physics teacher I've ever had, including two years in high school. "
"Aatish is one of the most interesting and effective teachers I have ever had, in any subject."
"I feel VERY lucky that I had such a good TA for Physics, a subject I feel like I would have struggled with without him."
"Being a student at a different university, I have only been in direct contact with a few Rutgers TAs - Aatish is far better than anyone I have encountered. I would recommend that he continues being a TA for physics."
"Aatish is great. He presents things clearly, doesn't fool around, is straightforward and to the point."
"Aatish is the best physics teacher I've ever had, and he was very flexible."
"Aatish makes learning physics so easy."
"By explaining Physics in words I can understand."
"Aatish is the greatest TA ever. He is too helpful."
"Aatish has taught me physics single handedly and has made my thinking much more direct and effective."
"Aatish always helped me understand, and never left until I did completely."
"TA goes beyong expectations. Instructional methods used by TA = better grades. Bhatia = best TA at Rutgers."
"Aatish should be the TA for 273 next semester. Unless he finishes his degree and becomes a professor first, because he really knows his stuff and he knows how to teach it to others."
"I liked how Aatish didn't just use formulas that the book gave us - he actually proved all of them to us and helped them make sense. He was also funny and made really difficult material much easier to comprehend and understand. I also liked how his quizzes were a learning experience in themselves - they weren't just made for the sake of having quiz grades."
"I actually really enjoyed doing the quizes, I think it the questions picked for quizes were always interesting and I enjoyed trying to figure them out from what I knew of the topics."
"His quizzes were very challenging. Also, he made use of generic variables far more than numbers. In a way, this assured that you knew everything you were doing and could see what elements factor in to your answer. It allows you to solve in general terms, which I'm sure is very important."
"He shows so many different ways to do a problem that by the time he's done I'll definitely understand at least one way to do it, which helps a lot on the test."
"The quizzes that he gave every week gave us a chance to apply the concepts we learned in lecture in a different way. This allowed me to see the applications and challenged me."
"He provided us with interesting problems that required much insight, which developed my interest in physics."
"The way he was able to dissect problems and complete them has aided me in my problem solving abilities."
"I liked getting to learn various strategies by which to tackle physics problems. I also enjoyed learning the explanations for various phenomena of the natural world and universe."
"The instructor worked a few physics problems in class each week, demonstrating to me that often the problems require analysis and ingenuity. Conversely, sometimes a seemingly difficult problem really only required a simple drawing to make it clear."
"Aatish demonstrated very clearly how to solve questions, and explains why it makes sense to do so. His "practical application" approach perfectly complements Professor Kalelkar's theoretical approach."
"He explains the concepts behind each problem, and why certain steps are taken to solve the problem."
"his quizzes always pushed me to think deeper"
"he gets us to think and makes everything really easy to understand"
"Aatish was REALLY good at explaining concepts. Somehow, the concepts all seemed to make more sense when he explained it than when the professor did. He was also always willing to help and very enthusiastic. His laid-back manner and good humor made people really comfortable around him and unafraid to ask questions. Overall, the best part of this course was probably that he taught it."
"His way of tackling problems is so much simpler than anything explained in class/the book. His attitude made me immensely enjoy recitation. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about Aatish."
"The best part would have to be the TA's attitude towards the course, he made us want to learn by seeing his excitement."
"Aatish was a very approachable TA. He helped students in everyway possible and wanted to make sure everyone understood the material, which is very important for such a fast paced class."
""You guys line up alphabetically by height." - Bill Peterson, Florida Coach is a quote which has nothing to do with Aatish Bhatia teaching, BUT more to do with what he taught us. To think before we solve the question."
"Aatish made it easy to understand the material and was always very willing to answer questions. He was also very fair with partial credit on all the quizzes."
"It's so fun and makes me REALLY enjoy learning physics."
"He explained the theory thoroughly, and his solutions were clear and concise. Plus, he was hilarious, whether intentionally or not was sometimes debatable. Doubt I'll encounted a TA as fun to learn from as Aatish during the remainder of my college career."
"Aatish is super nice and a great teacher. he taught the material very effectively. I did not enjoy lecture so much, but I looked forward to Aatish teaching in recitation."
"Aatish surpassed any expectations I had for a TA. He was very accessible, helpful and clearly enjoyed teaching the subject."
"He was very upbeat about physics and seemed to understand where we would have problems and made it easier to learn."
"He is a funny guy that uses math smoothly to explain physics, and he helped me realize how easy all the topics can be."
"He explained things very well and was patient with all of us. Not once did I feel uncomfortable asking him questions or participating in class."
"Aatish is a great instructor and takes the time to explain something if you don't understand. He really cares if you understand the material."
"Aatish carried me throughout the semester. I wouldn't have made it without him."
"Aatish's comprehensive understanding of, and passion for, physics"
"He loves physics, and he makes it seem so much less intimidating"
"The instructor talked about interesting side-facts that we will learn in later courses. It made me more excited to take those later courses."
"Aatish did a good job explaining E&M this semester, and he made it interesting. For instance, mentioning E^2 = (pc)^2 + (mc^2)^2 when doing the seemingly unrelated topic of radiation pressure was a good way to tie different parts of physics together."
"Inspired me to learn some things related to the course on my own at home. I'll miss the teacher."
"He shows passion in teaching"
"I can now say that I am a physics enthusiast!"
"g does not equal 10"
Afterschool Astronomy and Rocket Science
In 2011, I was an Education Fellow at the New York Academy of Sciences and mentored middle-school students in a low-income community in Newark, NJ in partnership with Citizen Schools. I held weekly after-school workshops where students built pinhole cameras, built and launched bottle rockets, raced balloon-powered rocket cars, and built their own spectroscopes and telescopes. I used demos, kinesthetic activities, videos and classroom games as teaching tools.
Shake, Rattle & Roll: Building Robots with a Sense of Balance
I designed a hands-on course on robotics in the New Jersey Governor's School of Technology and Engineering where I taught 25 high school students how to build stable, self balancing, two-wheeled robots starting from basic electronic components, in a three-week long intensive summer workshop in 2012 (about 15 contact hours). This course has continued to be taught by other instructors in 2013 and 2014.
Here's a video of our first prototype.
Want to learn more? Here's my teaching material for Shake, Rattle & Roll: Building Robots with a Sense of Balance, taught in the New Jersey Governor's School of Science, Engineering and Technology. I also gave an online talk at the Global Physics Department on using Arduinos as a teaching tool in high school and college.
This was my first experience using robots as a teaching tool. In my students' words, here is what they learned from the class.
"Shake, Rattle, and Roll was my most enjoyable elective. I learned the basics of Arduino, another software. I also was exposed to the inverted pendulum model, and the physics behind making a two-wheeled structure balance."
"I learning a huge amount in this class about Arduino and programming in general. Furthermore, if its worth anything, I made a robot balance!"
"We learned (obviously) how to build self balancing robots. More importantly, we learned the basics of Arduino and sensor processing."
"Shake, Rattle, and Roll helped me better understand the interactions between a "program" and a microcontroller like the arduino we worked with. I learned arduino programming, and was able to do step-by-step activities in exploring some of the capabilities of an arduino. "
"I learned what an arduino was and they can be programmed to almost do anything. I also learned how to build circuits for the arduino and how to use an accelerometer and a gyroscope to make a robot balance on two wheels."
"In Elective B I saw how equations and Physics play into Computer Science and programming."
"I was introduced to Arduinos, and I learned the programming language for Arduinos. I also learned how to use a circuit and to correctly wire LEDs, transistors, and motors. Though I did not learn everything about working the two-wheeled robot, I found this experience very insightful."
"I learned how to program in arduino. ninput and output of the arduino board, types of computing analog vs digital, and so on, especially how to use gyro and accelerometer sensors."
"I learned how to use Arduino, a versatile tool that I will definitely play around with after GSET. "
"I learned about circuits, arduino boards, coding with the arduino program, and about the math behind angles and balancing."
"In Shake, Rattle, and Roll, we learned how to do some basic coding, how circuits work, and the physics behind a machine that would need to be able to balance itself."
"I learned a lot about arduinos and this class has prompted me to build things with arduinos now that I'm home. I also learned a bit about the programming of the arduino and some circuitry."
The students were also asked whether they liked the course and the instructor, and what aspects of the course would they like to change. Here are some of their responses.
"Our instructor, Aatish Bhatia was simply a great guy. Despite the fact this was his first experience at running such a class, he guided us through the process with energy and enthusiasm. He was always around if anyone had questions, and was committed to helping each of the project groups. Definitely keep this class for next year."
"Great instructor, I really really liked the teaching model of small groups working together to build and code. "
"Elective B was really interesting, and was centered around my interests. I was very surprised that we were actually successful in accomplishing the course goal. The instructor Aatish was very knowledgeable and helpful, and it was fun that he too was learning about the project along with us. I would definitely recommend offering it again next year."
"I liked the class because each group could go at their own pace and even though there was an end goal, we learned other things too (like how to program the lights). I think that this class should be offered again. There is nothing major that I would do differently for this class."
"Elective B was a fun course. I thought it was great because though we had a brief introduction to Arduino programming, we were then left to figure stuff out using note sheets. We could see how well our programs worked by testing the circuits. Aatish was always very helpful and was very enthusiastic while we worked. This class should be offered: I recommend that the class try harder to ensure that everyone learns how to program Arduinos successfully."
"Building a robot that could (kinda sorta) balance on its own with 2 wheels was pretty cool. The instructor seemed to be at the same level of knowledge as us for as far as robots worked, but he was very enthusiastic. "
"This class was very rewarding. At the end of the class we had a (sort of) working balancing robot. Aatish was very helpful, and a lot of fun to work with. The only thing I would have done differently was use a different body for the robot. Trying to mount things precisely on cardboard was a bit challenging."
"Elective B was the most fun and interesting of my three electives and the instructor helped out a lot by constantly working with each group. Since I enjoyed this class so much, I would not change anything and it should be offered again next year."
"I enjoyed the interactive and relaxed sttings of the course, as well as Mr. Bhatia's teaching style, which included a lot of problem solving within your team, but always with the support and help from himself. Again, if more time could be spent making sure every person at least was given to opportunity to program one time, then this course, which was one of my favorites and should not be cut, would have been even better."
"The instructor was fantastic and offered a great mix of teaching and interacting. A lot of students would be excited to take this course next year."
"I thought Shake, Rattle, and Roll was an amazing class, and probably my favorite elctive. I enjoyed doing something that was hands-on, learning through actually doing, failing, and then fixing. The instrutor was great and very helpful, and I would definitely recommend it be offered again next year. "
"I liked Elective B a lot. It was really cool exploring the different functions of the Arduino and actually building the circuits in all the different schematics. I think Aatish was very helpful and would always work with us to help us figure out what we were doing wrong."
"I thought my elective B was very interesting. The instructor was easy to understand and a good teacher. Yes, this class was one of my favorites and I think it should be offered again next year. I wouldn't do anything different."
"this was definitely a fun and worth while elective. The instructor was great as he was never too busy to help out individual groups and always had a positive and constructive attitude towards the material."