Started teaching in the neutron scattering course

This week was the first week of block 1, and hence the first week of the neutron scattering course held at the Niels Bohr Institute. I was helping a bit last year as well, since I was hired to develop some different e-learning tools for the course, but this year I am an actual student instructor on the course.

We started Monday afternoon with some small introductions and a few exercises, and the small team (this year I think there are only about 12 students following the course…) is kind of cozy. Wednesday was the first long day, and since Kim went to Switzerland, Linda and I (and Peter Willendrup, who had promised to help with giving an introduction to McStas and the virtual machines we wanted to install on the student’s laptops, was also there) handled the day. Linda took care of lecturing about instrumentation, while I did a small MATLAB introduction and a little view of our local neutron source and He-3 detector tube. Most of the students seemed to get things running, and I think they’re ready for the startup of the real simulation projects in next week.

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Teaching at a neutron and X-ray scattering summer course

These last couple of days (that is, Monday through Wednesday), I’ve been one of the teachers of the Applications of X-ray and Neutron Scattering in Biology, Chemistry and Physics course held as a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen, the University of Lund, the University of Roskilde, and DTU. It’s a three week course, and this is the first time for the course to be held.

The idea was to teach fairly young university students the basics of both neutron and X-ray scattering, in order for them to be prepared for the great new times with the ESS and MaxLab IV.

These first three days, where I was teaching, consisted primarily of introductions, and Monday and Tuesday I was teaching in split-sessions. These sessions were a split-up of the students in biologists and physicists (or, in practice, people not usually using a lot of math, and people better at math). The physicists were taught something about proteins, while Kim Lefmann and I were teaching the others to do some basic math, and understand things like complex numbers, Fourier transformations, waves and simple scattering. All in all, I think it went okay. But I guess I would have liked to be better prepared (I only found out that I was going to be teaching at Sunday evening…).

On Wednesday, I helped three of the lecturers with exercises. The last two weeks I have been working on a simulation of a simple neutron reflectometer instrument, to be used this single day. I never got the multilayers working flawlessly, but I got the rest working okay, and offered to help the three others to do the actual teaching, using the live-simulation tools that we also used during the tutorials that I was helping in on i Italy in July. This ended up kind of a mess, but I hope that the students learned something anyway…

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Home from teaching in Italy

Home from teaching in Italy

The last week (from the 15th to today, the 22nd) I have been participating in the International Neutron Scattering Instrumentation School (INSIS), partly as a teacher, and partly as a normal student. This was all happening in the small town Frascati, on a mountain close to Rome, Italy.

I was teaching the students about McStas during two afternoon tutorial sessions, where Linda Udby, Peter Willendrup, and I strolled around helping the students getting through the exercises we made for them. For the rest of the school, I followed the lectures – learning a lot of new words from the neutron scattering world (even though some of the lectures were kind of a repetition of what I already knew), and I met a lot of cool people. I really had fun during the evenings, talking to a lot of great people from the neutron scattering world.

We also got a tour of the particle accelerator at the Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, which was absolutely awesome!

A little trip to Rome

I did take a single day off, though, to go down to Rome and play turist. I went downthere awfully early in the morning, to have time to see things and walk around without dying in the heat. I was one of the first people of that day to get into the Colloseum – that was really cool. I also saw the pyramid of Cestius, the Trevi fountain, and the forums.

All in all I had a great trip – but I would recommend people that are not very heat-tolerant to not go there in the middle of the summer!

A while later, a meeting report was published for the school in Neutron News, which can be viewed here.

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