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Tuesday, June 25, 2002

  • Old and new school grades 'equivalent'
  • Shovels hit north campus today
  • Campus next to Kananaskis
  • Other things will be happening
Chris Redmond

A big day for fans of the first baseman

[Strawberry] [Strawberry] [Strawberry]

A book in berry season

The bookstore's annual Strawberry Social takes place at midday today, 11:30 to 1:30, this year starring Marsha Boulton, author of Letters from the Country IV and winner of the Leacock Medal for Humour. Invitations were sent out to faculty and staff members a few days back.

Old and new school grades 'equivalent'

High school students are being assured that their courses and marks will be worth exactly the same whether they apply to UW with "OAC" courses from the old curriculum, "grade 12" courses from the new curriculum, or a mixture of both.

"Courses and their grades attained from either curriculum will be treated as equivalents," says a statement with the admission requirements for students entering in the "double cohort" year of 2003. Viewing "courses" equally has been the policy all along; adding "grades" to the sentence is something new, approved by UW's senate just last week.

Actually, that was the third time the 2003 admission requirements have gone through senate, as things keep changing and new programs are added to what UW plans to offer by next year.

"The grades comparability issue has been one of the most difficult for the universities and colleges to resolve since the introduction of secondary school reform in Ontario," said Peter Burroughs, director of admissions, in a background memo to senate. . . . "The public need to know our position on this matter before the commencement of grade 12 new curriculum courses this fall. This has been the most pressing question from the public for over the past year and, until recently, the universities have not been able to respond adequately.

"Early anecdotal information has indicated that grades attained by students at the grade 9 and 10 level are lower in equivalent subjects for students in the new curriculum when the new curriculum grading rubrics are applied. Recent empirical data gathered by the Ministry of Education and several school boards indicate that there is no significant difference in grades attained on advanced level university and college preparatory courses.

"There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that the implementation of the new curriculum in the secondary schools is radically inconsistent. For example, at some schools, the new grading rubrics are being applied rigidly while at other schools, the teachers continue to use OAC-based grading standards. Some schools are teaching new curriculum courses but reporting OAC course credits and grades. There are many other types of "strategies" being adopted in the schools to benefit the new and old graduating classes.

"Based on the data that is available to date and the elimination of a number of other less reasonable strategies and positions, the universities of Ontario have unanimously voted to accept grades from both curricula as equivalents. . . .

"The universities and the Ministry will continue to monitor the grades for current grade 11 and 12 new curriculum university and college preparatory courses. It is expected that these data will continue to support the earlier data and show no significant difference in the grades attained in the old and new curricula. If it becomes clear that there is an appreciable difference, any possibility of adjusting grades would be invalid because of the inconsistencies in grading and reporting courses that is so prevalent in the schools.

"Treating courses and the grades attained as equivalents will affect the computation of admission averages -- however, the University will continue its practice of using more than just grades and averages in the decision-making process."

Shovels hit north campus today

They're calling it "historic" -- a ground breaking ceremony on UW's north campus this morning that will be the official start of work on the long-awaited research and technology park.

The park is being developed on 100 acres through a public-private partnership consisting of the governments of Canada and Ontario, Regional Municipality of Waterloo, City of Waterloo, Communitech Technology Association, Canada's Technology Triangle and UW.

Sybase Inc. announced earlier this month that it will be the first tenant in the park, erecting a "landmark" building on the soon-to-appear Great Circle in the centre of the research park area. Terry Stepien, president of Sybase's "iAnywhere" subsidiary, is expected at today's ceremonies along with representatives of all the sponsoring groups, including Ontario enterprise minister Jim Flaherty.

Bulldozers will move in shortly, levelling the site and roughing in roads to connect the Great Circle with Columbia Street, Parkside Drive and Bearinger Road on the south, east and north of the area.

Today's celebrations are scheduled to start at 9:30 at what's currently called North Campus Road, between the Optometry building and the Columbia Icefield.

Campus next to Kananaskis

As the world's leaders converge on Kananaskis, Alberta, for their G8 summit meeting this week, people from quite different walks of life are converging on the nearest campus, at the University of Calgary, to talk about the same issues.

Hosted by Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien, the leaders are from the "Group of Eight" industrialized countries. They'll hold what is described as "an informal, retreat-style meeting" in the Kananaskis resort and national parks country in the mountains west of Calgary.

As Alberta awaits them, the university is playing host this week to the Group of Six Billion, or G6B, "reflecting the entire global citizenry". A G6B news release notes that the G8 leaders "will make critical decisions that will have global impact. Past G8 Summits have consistently failed to offer an effective means for individuals, civil society or even other states, to provide input to, or engage in, meaningful dialogue with G8 leaders. We believe, therefore, that an alternative forum, offering a means for the views and concerns of all of the world's peoples to be expressed and considered, is sorely needed."

The rival G6B promises "a forum to generate and discuss ideas and solutions that will promote economic activities that are beneficial to people living in all parts of our world, but that also reflect full respect for human rights and the environment. The G6B Conference will offer an alternative view of the planet's future; one which is not rooted in increased militarism and poverty, and decreased human and civil rights. Committed to bridging the divides and inequalities that exist between the developed and developing world, the conference will bring forward recommendations in six theme areas: trade & economy, human security, health, education, environment, democracy & governance."

Organizers promise to bring bring "renowned speakers, respected experts, and activists from the frontlines of poverty and conflict, together with an anticipated audience of 500, to explore a number of crucial issues and recommendations within the G6B's six themes. Consistent with the priorities of the G8, all sessions will have a special focus on the issues of Africa."

The Alberta-based International Society for Peace and Human Rights took the lead in organizing the conference and is working with a steering committee made up of other national and local organizations, including U of Calgary's G8 office.

The university says it doesn't expect activities on campus to resemble the street battles of last year's Québec City summit. "Do you expect violence on campus?" asks a frequently-asked-questions page, which gives this answer:

No. The G6B will be a conference like any of the other large conferences that the University hosts. The University will operate normally throughout the period of the G8. To our knowledge there have been no instances of problems on university campuses during previous summits. We do not expect any violence to originate from the G6B conference. The University hosts several large conferences during the year and expects the G6B conference to function similarly. The University, during the G8 summit, will continue to operate as per usual.
But it's hard to escape the shadow of the G8: Calgary researchers working at the university's Kananaskis Field Stations -- in such disciplines as science and environmental studies -- were warned months ago that they would need security clearances "as well as a detailed timetable of your work schedule".

Other things will be happening

A Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System training session is scheduled for 10 a.m. -- a change from the original 2 p.m. time. The one-hour session, including a video and quiz, will be taking place in Davis Centre room 1304.

At 10:45 a.m. comes an announcement and news conference to launch the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council/Ontario Power Generation Industrial Research Chair in Atmospheric Sciences, to be held by chemistry professor Jim Sloan. The event is scheduled for the Davis Centre lounge; guests will include Andrew Telegdi, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, Andre Isabelle of NSERC, and Ron Osborne, president and chief executive officer of Ontario Power Generation.

At 11:00 in the "Flex Lab", Dana Porter Library room 329, Araceli Reyes of ITAM University in Mexico City, who recently completed a year's sabbatical at UW, presents a special "iWeb" group session looking at mathematics and the Web. "The first issue," she says, "is to review the way we assume we are teaching math. Coming to the conclusion that giving lectures where we go through examples, proofs and definitions on the blackboard is not working as we hope, we see that math education experts have now come to the constructivist method. Technology should provide a way to organize the students work within the classroom and allow all of them to explore and discover by themselves. The second issue is being able to communicate math through the web both ways: from the instructor to the student and from the student to the instructor. The third issue is to provide the students with some tools that will allow them to concentrate on the concepts and delegate routine tasks. At present it seems that we are still struggling to build the tools to communicate mathematics as easily as possible and to delegate routine tasks." Les Richards or Andrea Chappell of the LT3 technology centre can provide more information.

"Investing and You: Strategies for Today's Market", a brown-bag session sponsored by the Waterloo County Education Credit Union, starts at 12:15 in the multi-purpose room in the Student Life Centre.

The joint health and safety committee will meet at 1:30 in Health Services room 126. But the meeting of the senate graduate council, which had been scheduled for the same hour in Needles Hall, has been cancelled.

CKMS-FM, UW's student-run radio station, will hold a "special volunteer meeting" at 6:30 tonight in the multi-purpose room of the Student Life Centre. "Come out," CKMS vice-president Chris Abbott urges, "and see what your campus radio station is doing."

Tomorrow, the teaching resource office holds a professional development workshop -- aimed at teaching assistants and other people who have to stand up in front of a class -- under the title "Teaching Dossiers, Part 2". It'll begin at 9:30 a.m. in Math and Computer room 4041. The teaching resource office, phone ext. 3132, should have last-minute information.

Then at noontime -- 11:30 to 1:30 -- there's an "executive car wash", a novelty fund-raiser for the Keystone Fund. "Watch senior administrators treat your car to a unique experience and, while your car's being pampered, treat yourself to a pop and hot dog ($3)." Location tomorrow: the east Village cul-de-sac, across the ring road from the University Club.

And tomorrow evening from 6 to 9, the Women in Engineering group will hold "an informal gathering of staff, students, faculty and alumni to discuss balancing career and family". Both sexes are welcome, and there's food; it all takes place in the Davis Centre "fishbowl" lounge.



June 25, 1969: The annual congress of the Canadian Association of Physicists opens at UW.

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