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Chris Peterson SM '13

Oct 26 2017

PSA: how to take the Bebras Computing Challenge this fall

Posted in: Miscellaneous

The Bebras Computing Challenge (American homepage, international homepage) is an international challenge that introduces students to computational thinking. Founded in Lithuania in 2004, it has now spread to more than 60 countries and more than a million participants, including more than 50k in the United States last year.

One thing I like about Bebras USA is that it has really has taken root in the midwest and mountain states, which have not historically been as well-served by computer science enrichment programs as the coasts. I like Bebras' focus on accessibility, both in terms of geographic outreach but also its structure of different divisions, beginning from very rudimentary to very advanced. It also provides data to the schools where the challenge is proctored to help them identify aptitude, understand how students are developing, and see where their students can use additional assistance. Plus, Bebras' mascot is the beaver, just like (and for the same reasons as) ours.

... read the post »

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Oct 3 2017

Reaffirming our support for transgender students

Posted in: Miscellaneous

In late August, the Trump Administration issued an executive order banning the recruitment of transgender people to the military. While the implementation of this order is still under review, its prospect has caused a lot of uncertainty and consternation.

I write today, as I have in the past on behalf of undocumented and international students, to reaffirm our support for transgender students, particularly those who may wish to eventually serve in the military or in the MIT ROTC program. MIT has a long history of military training; indeed, the MIT charter specifies that the Insitute, "in addition to other objects set forth, shall provide for instruction in military tactics." According to government records, the MIT Army ROTC program was the first in the nation. The MIT-ROTC relationship has not always been smooth sailing: In an instructive antecedent, in 1989 an MIT Navy ROTC student was ejected from the program for being gay, which spurred a faculty task force that produced a set... read the post »

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Sep 15 2017

MIT (Turbo)Votes

Posted in: Miscellaneous

tl;dr: As of this fall, any member of the MIT community can use TurboVote to help them register to vote, be reminded about local elections, and even be mailed an absentee ballot to their dorm. TurboVote is a classic example of a well designed civic technology: solving a societal problem by making something that is difficult (and shouldn't be) easier by partnering with institutions to make it available to their community members.

Making this happen involved a lot of students, faculty, and staff working collaboratively, and thoughtfully, over a long period of time to make this happen. One of those people was/is Christina Couch, a recent alumna of the Graduate Program in Science Writing; another was Caroline Mak '18, who had previously worked on another voter registration app funded by the MIT Sandbox initiative. Because I was involved a bit at the beginning, and because I think a lot of our prospective students will be as excited as I am that this is a thing, I asked Christina to... read the post »

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Sep 1 2017

Supporting our DACA Students

Posted in: Miscellaneous

If you've been following the news, you may know that the Trump Administration is reportedly reconsidering Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that allows undocumented students meeting certain conditions to work and study in the United States. This reevaluation has been rumored for awhile, but now seems to be approaching some kind of decision. 

A few months ago, after the Presidential election, I posted an entry reaffirming our support for undocumented students and outlining the relevant MIT policies and procedures. Yesterday, in the Boston Globe, MIT President Rafael Reif argued against the possible repeal of DACA. You should read the whole thing, but I will quote some parts that specifically resonated with me here: 

As the president of one of America’s leading technical universities — an institution built on intellectual excellence, a meritocratic openness to talent, and a long tradition of national service — I believe repealing DACA would be a mistake.... read the post »

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Aug 10 2017

PSA: the app is live

Posted in: Miscellaneous

The MIT freshman application for the prospective Class of 2022 is now available at

 

> > > my.mit.edu < < < 

 

You know what to do. Be yourself. Be good to others. Take care of your business, but try not to worry too much. Remember the difference between things you can control and things you can't, and that where you'll go is not who you'll be. Most of all, try to enjoy your senior year; it's the only one you will ever have. 

I believe in you. Good luck. 

 

 

 

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