Workshop Overview

At this workshop educators from the sciences and allied fields will share their experiences teaching computation using MATLAB, with a primary focus on undergraduate courses in: Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Geosciences.

Today, students must learn not only the quantitative skills necessary in modern science, but also the computational skills necessary to effectively apply quantitative skills in complex scientific contexts and with large data sets. Computational thinking requires students to be comfortable with languages and tools, such as MATLAB, that enable them to express and explore solutions to scientific problems. Computational skills may be applied to a wide range of scientific tasks, such as exploring formulas and equations; acquiring and visualizing scientific data; mathematical modeling; curve fitting and statistical analysis; writing scripts and functions; and writing reports and building tools for others to use. Participants will synthesize best practices for combining computation and quantitative thinking in their courses and for assessing students' understanding of applied computation.

Workshop activities will include presentations, large and small group discussions, demonstrations, and planning/writing sessions. Instructional materials and other information will be organized and compiled as collections of digital resources to support teaching computation in the sciences using MATLAB. Activities produced at the workshop will be made publicly available to anyone teaching in the sciences.

MathWorks representatives will be on hand to support the workshop and share their MATLAB expertise and insights about how to approach advanced tasks and capabilities, such as big data handling and high performance computing, in the classroom.

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Past Workshops and Webinars

Workshop Goals

The goals of this workshop are to:

  • Develop an understanding of the challenges involved in developing students' comfort and skill in computation using MATLAB, in terms of quantitative skills, applied math, and computational thinking as a way of learning;
  • Compile teaching activities that showcase methods for teaching computation using MATLAB;
  • Synthesize best practices for building computation and quantitative thinking over a 4-year degree program in science departments using MATLAB;
  • Identify strategies to balance breadth versus depth with quantitative thinking and computation languages and tools, such as MATLAB.

Dates: October 23–25, 2016

Participants should plan to arrive in Northfield in time for the first workshop event at 5 pm on Sunday, October 23. The workshop will be over on Tuesday, October 25 at 2 pm, and participants should plan return travel no earlier than 4:30 pm that day.


By applying to the workshop, participants agree to do the following, if accepted:

  • Teaching Activity: Submit an activity that involves teaching computation using MATLAB. A template will be provided for participants to enter the essential information about their teaching activities. These activities will be showcased at the workshop so they must be completed prior to the workshop.
  • Essay: Submit an essay on your experience with teaching computation in the sciences using software such as MATLAB. Essays may include a discussion of the following: the role of computation in your discipline, or the sciences; the range of tools that are useful for computation; how to sequence courses or develop a program-level approach to computation that benefits students; or challenges inherent to integrating computation into science disciplines.
  • Course Description: If participants are interested, it is optional to submit a course description that teaches computation in the sciences.
  • Prepare in advance for the workshop discussions via readings, writings, discussion, or other activities developed by the workshop leaders.
  • Participate fully in the entire workshop and attend all workshop sessions. Many participants will be invited to make presentations or serve as discussion or working group leaders at the workshop.


MathWorks is supporting the complete cost of hosting the workshop. Participants or their home institutions must cover the costs of local lodging and travel to and from the workshop at Carleton College in Northfield, MN.

The stipend application deadline was September 2, 2016. We are no longer accepting stipend applications. There are funds available for stipends for some participants from institutions unable to cover the costs of travel to the workshop. Otherwise, participants or their home institutions must cover the costs of local lodging and travel to and from the workshop at Carleton College in Northfield, MN.

Application and Selection Criteria

Applicants for this workshop must teach at a two- or four-year college or university. They should also have experience using MATLAB in teaching or detailed plans to use MATLAB for teaching. The workshop aims to have 30 participants. The final list of participants will be developed with the goal of assembling a group of experienced educators, representing a wide range of experiences, educational environments, and specialties.

The application deadline was September 2, 2016. We are no longer accepting applications.


The workshop will be held at Carleton College (more info) located in Northfield, Minnesota . All scheduled workshop events will be on the Carleton College campus. Most sessions will be in the Weitz Center. Participants will need to walk from the hotel to campus, except for those who need assistance.

For More Information

If you have any questions, please contact Rory McFadden at the Science Education Resource Center: