Casimir Programming course

tl;dr: we’re planning the quarantine version of Casimir programming course, and we need your help in planning and running it.

UPDATE: The course will take place online second half of January. Sign up here!

About the course

As many of you may know, for the last few years, several of us ran a 5-day programming course aimed at Casimir PhD students and postdocs. It’s an intensive and hands-on course where folks get their hands dirty and hack something together. We usually run it with 50 participants, and 5 course team members. The course is organized as a sequence of tutorials separated by exercise breaks when the participants try what they just learned. The course also has longer periods of individual work, when participants work on individual projects.

The course covers:

  • Introduction to Python
  • The linux shell
  • Git version control system
  • Scientific computing in Python
  • Structuring Python code

Finally, we dedicate some time to the participants working on a project of their choice, and afterwards presenting it.

The course materials are here:

Situation now

Firstly, we are now understaffed. In order to limit the workload, we found 5 instructors a reasonable amount, however, due to others moving out of Kavli, only @michaelwimmer, @andre_melo, and I are around.

Furthermore, we believe that it is both unreasonable, and impractical to organize the course with the students physically present.

How you can help

First of all, if you can dedicate some of your time teaching others: we’d love to have you on our team :heart: Many of Kavli PhDs passed through the course, and most considered it useful. Let me know if you want to help!

Additionally if you have any advice on how we could adjust the course to the online setting, please share your ideas! Your input is especially helpful if you already took part in the course, and you know how it is organized.

Also, of course, let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks everyone, and cheers!

Hi Anton,

I’ve been involved with the data/software carpentry workshops that 4TU.ResearchData organises.
Lessons from that are:

  • Preferably you shouldn’t run sessions longer than 4 hours / half a day. After ~4 hours both the instructors and participants will no longer have any concentration left because the online setting takes a lot more energy.
  • Breaks are important to have (not only to stretch the legs but also to ensure that all the participants are at the same level)
  • Things are likely to progress slower online as it takes time to get feedback from participants and it takes longer to help people that are stuck. Screensharing or screenshots are helpful, more helpers/supporters is even more helpful. Apparently you can take over control through Zoom screensharing, which may be helpful if someone is really stuck.
  • We have been running it with ~20 participants so far and approx 5 instructors/helpers. In some situations that is a bit of an overkill, but when you’re stuck it is really helpful to have some additional hands.
  • We have been using a collaborative note document (googledocs or etherpad) to keep track of the commands used, questions that participants have. This seems to work very well. I can share an example of the data carpentry workshop if that is helpful (I’ll first have to remove some names out of the document :))
  • It is helpful to have someone teach the lesson and someone else who keeps track of the chat/issues/setting up break out rooms if needed. It is a lot to do on your own.
  • Depending on when you are organising the course I can help out with the git/shell materials or help with monitoring/coordinating things in zoom. I’m not that great with Python but we can ask the other Data Stewards or the new Digital Competence Center team if they are available to help out!
  • We’re organising the next Software Carpentry Workshop on the 7-8 and 13-14th of October (9:00-13:00). You’re welcome to join to see how we’re managing it.
  • See also this page from the Carpentries with their recommendations:



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I would really like to join in as an instructor, if that’s ok. So far I don’t have any very bright ideas on how to adapt the course to an online format, but I’ll give it some more thought.

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Welcome to the team :rocket:

I will be happy to help as well :slight_smile:

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