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UA Debates Physics Classroom Proposal

By Melissa Cain

STAFF REPORTER

Dean for Undergraduate Education Robert P. Redwine presented a proposal at last night’s Undergraduate Association meeting to renovate the reading room on the fifth floor of the Student Center so that it may accommodate a new physics program.

The purpose of the program, called TEAL (Technology Enabled Active Learning), is to make MIT students “more personally engaged” in the experience of learning introductory physics, Redwine said. Redwine said that faculty and staff believe the current system of teaching physics is “not fully successful.

According to the model that Redwine brought to the UA Council, TEAL would be housed in two classrooms, each containing twelve round tables. The teacher would sit at one table while nine students would sit at each of the other tables, each of which would be equipped with three laptop computers.

The basic proposal is to renovate the reading room on the fifth floor of the Student Center so it can be used for the TEAL program during the day “when the room is not heavily used,” Redwine said.

While much of the Council supported the proposal, there were a few representatives that were strongly opposed it.

UA Councillor Colin T. Galbraith ’03 said, “I am vehemently against this [because] it changes the aura of the Student Center.” Galbraith believes that it would “no longer be a safe haven” for students.

“I believe this is a step in the wrong direction,” said UA Councillor Zhelinrentrice L. Scott ’01. “I don’t think [this room] should be taken away.”

In response to the opposition, Redwine said,“We don’t have a whole lot of other options” because the proposal requires 6,000 square feet of space.

Redwine ended by saying that “no decision has been made” and that the administration “wants student input” before they make a final conclusion on the proposal.

TEAL is funded by the d’Arbeloff Initiative, the MIT/Microsoft I-Campus Alliance, and the National Science Foundation, among other sources.

The Council also passed a bill amending the UA Constitution to give the Speaker the power to call informal discussion sessions.

The Council officially recognized the MIT ROTC for being named the best in the nation with a resolution of congratulations.

On Friday, the UA is hosting the GM-Chevy Soccer tournament, an event which is open to all students and faculty.

This meeting was televised live on MITV as are all UA Council meetings now.