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Tuesday, June 25, 2013



  • A periodic update for the Periodic Table Project
  • Teaching assistant form initiative sees results
  • Canada Day - It's kind of a big deal
  • Tuesday's notes


  • Editor:
  • Brandon Sweet
  • Communications and Public Affairs


A periodic update for the Periodic Table Project

by Sharon McFarlane, Faculty of Science.

A special note from the creators of the uWaterloo Periodic Table Project who want to get the word out: they’re avidly seeking the perfect tiles for two newly-named elements!  In May, 2012 two new elements were added to the traditional periodic table; flerovium (Fl with atomic number 114) and livermorium (Lv, atomic number 116).

Jean Hein, Editor of Chem13 News, a newsletter for chemistry educators, has posted the five finalists for each element for the Periodic Table Project contest. “We’re very excited to add two more beautiful tiles to this unique periodic table,” explains Hein, “please look over the finalists and select which design you’d like to see displayed!”

You can vote the tile you most admire by selecting “favourite” on the tile tweet, or by voting in person at the Chem 13 News booth at the upcoming ChemEd 2013 conference here on campus in late July. Winning tiles will be added to the Periodic Table Project (pictured left in the EIT foyer). The deadline to vote for your favourite is August 1st with the winner announced in the September issue of Chem 13 News.

And in case you wondered? Both flerovium and livermorium are radioactive and artificially produced. Only a few atoms of either element have ever been produced and currently have no known uses outside of basic scientific research.


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Teaching assistant form initiative sees results

by Marta Bailey, Graduate Studies Office.

Can setting clearer expectations of Teaching Assistants’ work help to eliminate misunderstandings? 

This was the question underlying a joint pilot project between the Graduate Student Association and the Graduate Studies Office, to implement a new Teaching Assistant (TA) hours allocation form during the winter 2013 term.  The form encourages instructors and teaching assistants to systematically lay out how TA hours are to be allocated among duties; it is signed by the TA and the instructor so both agree on goals for the term.

In preparing for this pilot project, an environmental scan was completed, which revealed that almost all other universities in Ontario already use such a form, as do some departments at the University of Waterloo.  This pilot project used a common form and 15 Departments/Schools (at least one in each Faculty) participated.  The project involved more than a hundred courses, with an average of two teaching assistants per course. 

At the end of the term, a survey was sent out to over 350 participants (teaching assistants, instructors, graduate officers and graduate coordinators), of whom 30% responded.  Almost two-thirds of those who responded mentioned that the form was useful.  Those who indicated the form was useful made comments such as: “it helped knowing what tasks were going to be required over the semester” and “it allowed me to plan and schedule”.  Others pointed out how the form was too rigid/did not fit the way teaching assistant hours were used in their particular department, or felt that this just added yet another bureaucratic requirement. 

A number of respondents indicated that using the form led to changes in the way hours were allocated (12 per cent of TAs and 23 per cent of instructors).  Some instructors made changes when they realized that the teaching assistants in the past had been overworked or underutilized.

Survey respondents provided feedback as to how to improve the form in future, usually suggesting that it needed to be more customized to the needs of their department, School, or faculty.  Some questions were raised as to how the form should fit into the departmental process of TA allocation, and the procedures to be followed for using and saving the forms.

The survey findings are currently being discussed with various stakeholder groups (Graduate Student Relations Committee and with the Associate Deans, Graduate Studies of the Faculties), to inform future policy. 


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Canada Day - It's kind of a big deal

Each year, 40,000 people attend the Canada Day Celebration at Columbia Lake. It's one of the ways the university says thanks to the community while celebrating our country's national day. And what better way to do so than with a party fit for the whole family?

"For 28 years running, our celebration at Columbia Lake playing fields has provided family-friendly activities, live entertainment, and a beautiful fireworks display for the whole community to enjoy," wrote Feridun Hamdullahpur in an email to the campus community yesterday, "but this year, we’re taking it a step further. The University of Waterloo has strengthened its partnership with the Federation of Students to create a bigger, better celebration than ever before. With activities, music, and special features for every age and interest, this will be the best Canada Day celebration our campus has ever seen."

Check out the event's schedule for detailed information about what to expect. If you've never had the opportunity to attend the annual event, this year is a great time to start.


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Tuesday's notes

Today is the last day for future students to apply for the BlackBerry Scholars program, a global four-year scholarship program for "outstanding women entering their first year of undergraduate study at an accredited college or university." The program's aim is to help increase the number of women studying in the so-called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) disciplines and who have an interest or aptitude in the area of mobile computing. The deadline for applications is 5:00 p.m. today.

The Pension Team from Human Resources will be offering a Lunch and Learn Pension session today in DC 1302 from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. entitled "Retirement Planning Tools: myPENSIONinfo/Annual Pension Statement." The session facilitators will demonstrate how the online pension estimator and annual pension statement can be used as tools to assist employees with their retirement planning. Be sure to bring a copy of your December 31, 2012 annual pension statement. Information about future sessions can be found on HR's website.

New this week on the Waterloo Stories page are pieces about Student Life 101, researcher Ellsworth LeDrew, and geologist Thomas Edwards.


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Link of the day

Kim Campbell

When and where

Feds Used Books sidewalk sale, Monday, June 24 to Wednesday, June 26, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., SLC Vendor's Alley.

Lunch and Learn Pension session, “Retirement Planning Tools: myPENSIONinfo/Annual Pension Statement”, Tuesday, June 25, DC 1302, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. Details.

Postdoctoral event - Fun in the Park, Tuesday, June 25, 4:30 p.m., Waterloo Park Picnic Shelter. Details.

Job post (main) opens Wednesday, June 26, closes Thursday at 11:59 p.m.

Centre for Career Action presents Work Search Strategies, Wednesday, June 26, 10:30 a.m., TC 1208.

UWRC Event, "Types of Wills and Power of Attorney" featuring Sean Amiri, Waterloo Region Community Legal Services, Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 12:00 noon, NH 1116.
Register by email.

Retirement reception for Peter Russell, Wednesday, June 26, 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Earth Sciences Museum. RSVP to Lorraine Albrecht via email or by calling extension 32069.

Student Life 101, Thursday, June 27.

UW Farm Market, Thursday, June 27, Student Life Centre lower level, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Petition to the Registrar to register late form required to become Fees Arranged after Sunday, June 30.

Canada Day Celebrations, Monday, July 1, Columbia Lake.

Canada Day Holiday, Monday, July 1, university closed.

Student Consultation Group - uWaterloo Student Portal, Wednesday, July 3, 12:00 p.m., SSO multipurpose room. Details.

Environment Lecture Series featuring Sven E. Jørgensen, University of Copenhagen, "Samsø , a Danish Island based on renewable energy," Wednesday, July 3, Waterloo Summit Centre for the Environment, Huntsville. Details.

UW Farm Market, Thursday, July 11, Student Life Centre lower level, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Student Consultation Group - uWaterloo Student Portal, Tuesday, July 16, 12:00 p.m., SSO multipurpose room. Details.

UWRC Book Club featuring ML Stedman's "The Light Between Oceans", Wednesday, July 17, 12:00 p.m., LIB 407.

UW Farm Market, Thursday, July 18, SLC lower level, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

ChemEd 2013 conference, Sunday, July 28 to Thursday, August 1. Details.

Spring Term lectures end, Tuesday, July 30 (which is a Monday class schedule).

Pre-examination study days, Wednesday, July 31 to Monday, August 5.

Civic Holiday, Monday, August 5, university closed.

Drop, Penalty 2 Period ends, Monday, August 5.

3rd Annual Conference on Quantum Cryptography, Monday, August 5 to Friday, August 9, Institute for Quantum Computing. Details.

On-campus examinations begin, Tuesday, August 6.

Online class examination days, Friday, August 9 and Saturday, August 10.

UWRC Book Club featuring Sebastian Barry's "The Secret Scripture," Wednesday, August 21, 12:00 p.m., LIB 407.


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