Teaching Computation in the Geosciences Using MATLAB

Wednesday 1:30pm-4:00pm TSU - Barn: 114
Afternoon Mini Workshop


Phil Resor, Wesleyan University

This mini-workshop is for anyone interested in teaching computation: data analysis, algorithm development, or numerical modeling, using the MATLAB programming platform. The workshop will include hands-on exploration of selected examples from a community resource collection as well as discussions of how you can incorporate these teaching activities into your courses, including through the use of notebook-style scripts (Live Scripts) and interactive classrooms.

Over the past four years, MathWorks and SERC have convened a series of 3-day faculty workshops to explore how to apply MATLAB to strengthening computational skills of undergraduate geoscience majors. This workshop enables us to use the learnings from those workshops to improve our own courses and curriculums.

No prior MATLAB or programming experience is required. Access to required software and computers will be provided during the workshop.

Participants who have little or no previous experience with MATLAB should complete the MATLAB onramp training prior to the workshop.


By the end of this workshop, participants will:

  • Have a working definition of computation and how MATLAB can be used to develop students' computational skills
  • Identify challenges related to teaching computation and how to address these through activity design and classroom strategies
  • Be familiar with the Teaching Computation website and identify activities they might adapt to their classroom or program
  • Become part of a growing community of educators dedicated to improving the teaching of computation in the geosciences


1:30 Welcome and introductions

1:40 Introduction to Teaching Computation website

1:50 Activity Exploration: Modeling Mono Lake

Notes: we will work through a small piece of this 3-6 hour activity to start our conversation about teaching computation using MATLAB. The zipped archive workshop_with_data.zip (Zip Archive 561kB Jul17 19) contains all of the data and scripts we will use. The reflection worksheet can be found in digital form at reflection worksheet.

2:30 Discussion of Mono Lake activity in context of teaching computation

2:50 Break

3:00 Participants, working in groups of two or three, explore one additional activity from the MATLAB exemplary collection

3:30 Groups report out on their chosen activity

3:50 Wrap-up and Workshop evaluation

4:00 Adjourn

Workshop Slides

Teaching Computation Workshop slides.pptx (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 74.3MB Jul17 19)

Resources for teaching computation in the geosciences using MATLAB