Submitted by Sabrina Sobel / Hofstra University on Sat, 03/08/2014 - 16:00
My Notes

Two excellent video presentations on symmetry. The Ted Talk by Marcus du Sautoy is an excellent introduction to the concept of symmetry and systematically describing it. In "Impossible Crystals" Nobel Laureate and physicist Paul Steinhardt discusses the creation of "Impossible crystals": quasi-crystals with five-fold symmetry previously believed impossible.

Learning Goals

Gain an appreciation for symmetry in our every day lives.

Implementation Notes

The best implementation is to provide the links on a class site such as Blackboard, then heavily promote them. The TED talk is short enought (17 minutes) to be shown in class.

Time Required
1.5 hours
Evaluation Methods

I asked for informal feedback in class. Some students really enjoyed them.

Evaluation Results

Students approached the Group Theory unit with more enthusiasm. I suspect that this is because I 'set the stage' with the two symmetry lectures, which provide a connection of symmetry to everyday life.

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Kari Young / Centre College

I assigned du Sautoy's TED talk to be viewed before our first class on identifying symmetry operations.  In particular, my students said that it helped them with the idea that rotation is a type of symmetry.  The mirror plane was more familiar.  In addition, I think it helped set up the identity operator and why it needs to be included.  Students also enjoyed learning about the Alhambra and about how symmetry is mathematical not just artistic.  I'll assign this again. The middle of the talk is the most relevant, but it is short enough that students don't mind sitting through the beginning or the end.

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 14:39 Permalink