Modeling with ODEs

This course was taught while I was visiting faculty at College of the Atlantic, in Bar Harbor, Maine.  Like Unity, this school is very small (only about 250 students) and is environmentally focused, attracting students majoring in "Human Ecology," the interdisciplinary study of human impact on the environment.
Turrets from http://coa.edu/coa-gardens.htm

As Visiting Faculty, I was asked to teaching ordinary differential equations, but was given freedom in the choice of text and in the way in which I taught the class.  I taught it as an ODE class in dynamical systems, using Taubes' "Modeling Differential Equations in Biology."  Students coming out of this course had Calculus I and Calculus II (one with Calculus III) and ranged from Freshman (who had AP or IB credit) to Seniors.  Diversity was found not only in year, but in interest and in nationality, boasting students from Maine to Scandinavia and from Japan to the Middle East, and Haiti.  It was a fantastic experience!

Course topics included dynamical systems, solutions, equilibria, stability, qualitative approaches, and software.  Once a week, we would discuss selected readings from Science and the course was capped by a final student project.

Comments from the students:
"She is a wonderful instructor and as a person as well.  She made the learning so enjoyable and applicable for our interests accordingly, while giving us solid understandings.  We all appreciate this course as part of our HE curriculum."
"Amazing.  I usually don't give all 6s."

Learning outcomes met:
"I learned a lot about different differential equations and Mathematical Models.  I also learned how to better understand scientific papers and the math in them.  I can now understand how the scientists came to their conclusions based on the math."
"Modeling for biological systems.  Not to get scared of complex equations"
"Mathematical approach to account for wicked complicated biological phenomena.  Confidence to cope with equations."

The course itself had fantastic reviews, boasting 2/7 numerically perfect reviews and an overall review of 5.5 out of 6.  There were also perfect 6/6 from all students in 3 categories, including "The instructor was prepared and there was evidence of an overall course plan."  No review in any category from any student was rated below a 4 out of 6.  I would love to offer this course at Unity College someday.

Note: Picture or Turrets from www.coa.edu website
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ceaton@unity.edu,
Jun 14, 2012, 12:56 PM