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Friday, June 4, 2004

  • 'Adaptive and inclusive' games on show
  • Session will explain vision loss
  • Psych department called a gem
  • Notes as the week winds up
Chris Redmond

D-Day 60th anniversary

[Slater with lab equipment]

TRIUMF is Canada's National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics, and that's where Josh Slater, a 3A physics student, spent his winter co-op work term as a research assistant. He was studying the reaction rates that take place in stellar situations to produce the elements that make up our world. At the center of his work was a massive facility called DRAGON (Detector of Recoils And Gammas Of Nuclear reactions), which measures rates of nuclear reactions important in astrophysics. Slater spent most of his time working on a special project to modify computer simulations of solid targets. He also worked controlling DRAGON, debugging code, and analysing test results. His work is featured in the latest issue of the online newsletter sCo-op for co-op students.

'Adaptive and inclusive' games on show -- from the UW media relations office

"Adaptive and Inclusive Games" is a new exhibit at the Elliott Avedon Museum and Archive of Games. This free on-campus exhibit is open to the public through mid-August. Summer hours for the museum, on the first floor of Matthews Hall, are Tuesday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

With more than 1.5-million Ontarians with disabilities, both public and private organizations have been making efforts to increase accessibility for persons with alternative needs, and this trend can also be seen in the games industry, said Jennifer Gillies, museum technician.

[Dominoes] "This exciting exhibit features some unique and enjoyable games that are either adapted or simply inclusive for persons with various abilities," she said. "Come by and play a game of Scrabble, Parcheesi or Dominoes, all of which are adapted for persons with visual impairments."

The exhibit features both Braille and jumbo-sized playing cards, and several other textured, enlarged and Braille items are on display. The museum is wheelchair accessible and allows persons of all ages and abilities to play games that everyone can enjoy, Gillies said. This exhibit is informative, educational, and most of all fun, she added.

The museum was founded in 1971 and renamed the "Elliott Avedon Museum and Archive of Games" in 2000 after its founder, now a retired UW professor. The collection has 5,000 objects, many of which have been exhibited in the public gallery and come from many parts of the world and from public and corporate donations. Several hundred items are documented on the museum Web site.

It is operated by the department of recreation and leisure studies, staffed by graduate students and administered by the faculty of applied health sciences as part of the Waterloo Heritage Collections, with funding support from the Ontario ministry of tourism, culture and recreation.

Session will explain vision loss -- from the media relations office

To help people suffering from age-related macular degeneration -- the leading cause of vision loss in older Canadians -- UW's Centre for Sight Enhancement has organized a public event tomorrow afternoon. It's an information session that aims to benefit everyone whose life is affected by age-related macular degeneration, including people with AMD, their families, their friends and anyone else in regular touch with someone experiencing this form of vision loss.

Optometry planning new records system

The new issue of the optometry school's alumni newsletter -- a fat and newsy publication -- includes "Part III" of a continuing report on the school's quest for an electronic system to keep its huge files of patient records. "Our progress to date has been good albeit somewhat slower than we had hoped," the article tells optometrists, many of whom are probably looking for the same thing on a smaller scale.

There's a conflict between the ease of entering "freeform data" and the value of having information in structured form, for searching and preparing statistics. "Fortunately, optometric examination data is primarily parameter-based and structured data."

The newsletter says the school is now working with a software company -- whose financial and appointment system it's already using -- to customize an "Optometric Electronic Medical Record module" and, if all goes well, introduce it gradually next year.

The session, titled "Coping with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)," will run from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 30 Fairway Road in Kitchener. Seating is limited and reservations are required -- call ext. 6282 for reservations or more information.

"The event will consist of a series of brief presentations that will describe macular degeneration and will review its potential prevention, treatment and rehabilitation," says Graham Strong, director of the centre, which is part of the school of optometry. "Our session last fall was an enormous success and over 350 attended and we had to turn away about 100 for lack of seating. We hope that following this information session, people with macular degeneration and their families may feel more comfortable in seeking out the kind of assistance they require, armed with good information."

People attending the session will be able to visit an exhibit area where various associated agencies and companies will demonstrate the latest services, products and technologies available to help people with AMD. Strong noted that while there is considerable information available on AMD, people experiencing this type of vision loss often have poor or outdated information.

The incurable eye disease is caused by a gradual deterioration of the central portion of the retina, or macula, resulting in a central area of vision loss. This central vision is critical for detailed tasks such as reading, driving and recognizing faces.

Psych department called a gem

The undergraduate psychology program is "one of the gems in the crown of the University of Waterloo", says one in a series of reviews that are to be done for all UW academic programs on a seven-year cycle. The psychology department review was completed about a year ago and was submitted to UW's senate, along with others, by the associate vice-president (academic), Gail Cuthbert Brandt. Some excerpts:

"The Department is different from other Psychology programs in two ways. First, several of its graduate programs (Clinical, Social) have been ranked consistently among the very best in Canada and the United States. Second, the Department has been one of the first in Canada to offer a PhD in Clinical Psychology, one of the few in North America to have a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and one of the first to offer courses and a major via distance education, and to offer a co-op undergraduate degree. . . .

"More undergraduate students and fewer funds for teaching have resulted in large increases in class sizes. For many years, it was normal for there to be 250 to 300 students in a typical introductory Psychology course. In recent years, such a class has increased to over 600 students. Senior undergraduate course sizes also have increased, from 50 to 75 students in the past to over 200 now being common. . . .

"As a group the faculty have active research programs, many having received external recognition through various honours and awards: Premier's Research Excellence Award, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and fellowships in national and international associations.

"Assuming retirement at age 65, 13 faculty will retire over the next 10 years. . . . The normal faculty teaching workload is 3 undergraduate courses, coupled with supervision of undergraduate and graduate student research projects or theses. All faculty in the Department are involved in supervising student research. . . .

Child care festival for youngsters from four campus day-care centres, 9:30 to 11:00, Student Life Centre lawn. Guest performer Erick Traplin.

UW Drum Circle performs at Peacefest, Kitchener City Hall, 7 p.m. "Drumming for Peace" is part of the current conflict resolution conference. Saturday performance by the Drum Circle in Victoria Park has been cancelled.

Bombshelter presents "High Holy Days" tonight, cover $7.

Demonstration acting classes led by Heather Majaury, CKMS radio station manager, Saturday and Sunday at Toes Across the Floor Studios, information 725-4555.

Most Extreme Slo-Pitch Challenge, campus recreation tournament, all day Sunday, Columbia playing fields.

President's Golf Tournament, fund-raiser for department of athletics, Monday, Rebel Creek Golf Club, details online.

Board of governors meeting, Wednesday, June 9, 2:30, Needles Hall room 3001.

Tom Harpur, author and religion columnist, speaks June 17, 7:30, Waterloo North Mennonite Church, fundraising event for Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre, which includes Conrad Grebel University College.

"Psychology at Waterloo continues to maintain its reputation as one of the top Psychology departments in North America, and . . . the undergraduates are receiving a first-rate education. . . . Undergraduates are generally very enthusiastic about the program, and reported that the faculty were available, very approachable, willing to spend time with them, willing to involve them in research, and responsive to their interests. . . .

"For the Department, the review team recommended that . . . Math and Science requirements should be specified, to reduce the heterogeneity in the backgrounds of undergraduates in these subjects; the content of some specific courses should be reviewed with regard to the work load and in the context of the new high school curriculum; all courses should be reviewed with regard to redundancy and undue overlap; . . . the Department consider options to provide personalized attention to students in first and second year courses . . .; and an information literacy component should be introduced in the first year course. . . .

"The Department has indicated that given the review team's assessment was positive, it does not intend to make major changes. However, it will implement many of the suggestions for minor changes/improvements from the review team. . . . The cost effectiveness of Distance Education courses will be assessed, as at the moment the cost of developing and offering such courses is viewed as a barrier to increasing DE offerings."

Notes as the week winds up

UW engineering graduates of 1979, '84, '89, '94 and '99 will be on campus this weekend for a series of reunion events. "All faculty members," organizers note, "are invited to come and enjoy a complimentary pass to some or all of the reunion activities with their former students." Activities include a barbecue, "free family fun" for the children of alumni on Saturday afternoon, and a Saturday night dinner at the Four Points Sheraton for older alumni. A highlight is an open house Saturday, 2:30 to 4:00, in the foyer of Carl Pollock Hall, with a chance to meet dean Adel Sedra and current student leaders as well as admiring student projects. "You will have a chance to visit POETS," the weekend's invitation adds, "and remember the fun you had with friends." Details are online.

The Keystone Campaign "Ulympics" event is happening at noontime next Wednesday, but it'll happen better with more volunteers, writes Shelley Rudd of the development office. She says organizers are looking for people "to help out with games and other activities" at the faculty, staff and retiree event, which will be happening at and around the Columbia Icefield from 11:30 to 1:30. Anyone interested can get in touch with Jenn Lorette at ext. 5008, e-mail jlsloret@uwaterloo.ca. Preferred dress for the day is something gold, and Rudd advises that gold UW T-shirts are now for sale in the South Campus Hall gift shop.

A note from the plant operations department: steam will be turned off all day Monday (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) in South Campus Hall and the Doug Wright Engineering building. Crews will be fixing a leak in a service tunnel. Shouldn't be a problem -- it's going to be warm by Monday, right?

The Canadian University/College Golf Championship is under way all this week at Wyldewood Golf and Country Club in the Halton area, with a five-member UW team taking part in the men's competition. No Waterloo women are entered. After the second round on Wednesday, the Warrior team -- Mark Burke, Justin Fluit, Mark VanderBeek, Jaspreet Walia and Jud Whiteside -- were reporting a two-day score of 613, which is just 7 strokes off the lead. But competition was tight: that put them in sixth place out of 22 entries. The University of Manitoba holds the lead.


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