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MIT student blogger Chris S. '11

SNOW SNOW SNOW! by Chris S. '11

And other festivities.

So yesterday I saw the first real snow of the season!! (come on, the snow on November 21 wasn’t “real snow” – it melted all before noon!)

I was walking out of Lobby 7 after spending the afternoon teaching my last SAT class of the semester, and I suddenly saw specks of white fall from the sky. I asked myself…is that SNOW? And then I felt some white flurry specks of coldness brush my cheeks, and I’m like, “WOW IT REALLY IS SNOW!”

Haha, I guess this is what happens when you come from a tropical country where it never snows. :)

On a equally festive note, my dorm, iHouse, had a holiday dinner on Saturday night! (We’re supposed to have a Thanksgiving Dinner, like most of the other dorms, but it was postponed so it became more of a “Christmas” dinner):

We had a truly “international” dinner.

We had entrees represented from Japan (miso soup), China (garlic noodles), Puerto Rico (rice dish), India (vegetable korma), US (roast chicken), as well as desserts represented from US (pumpkin and apple pie), China (almond tofu), and as well as my critically-acclaimed Taiwanese azuki bean soup w/ rice balls < /shameless plug >. Hey, we’re supposed to be International House, after all! =D

Afterwards, we also had a gift exchange. We were really happy with our gifts:

I got a gift card to Boston Tea Stop (the closest bubble tea shop from MIT – in Harvard Square) from my Secret Santa :)

On a completely unrelated note, freshman generally have to take two Physics courses to fulfill the Physics GIR (General Institute Requirements). (Don’t you love my abrupt transition?)

Generally, these two Physics courses are 8.01 (Newtonian Mechanics – fall semester) and 8.02 (Electricity and Magnetism – spring semester). Unless you want to be amazing and take 8.012 or 8.022 (Physics For The Truly Insane), you will inevitably encounter TEAL. TEAL is MIT’s affectionate synonym for “Technology-Enabled Active Leaning” and basically involves students learning from Powerpoint presentations of the lecture while toting white clickers that submit their responses to multiple-choice concept questions scattered in the lecture slides to the instructor – allowing the instructor to determine immediately the level of student learning [and participation, as those students who are falling asleep cannot effectively click their clickers ;)].

Aside from the technologically-enhanced lectures, another complement to TEAL is that students must submit weekly assignments online through a site called Mastering Physics. The online assignments involve answering physics problems and entering numerical or variable answers through a real-time system that immediately assesses the answer and provides hints if the student does not know how to approach the problem or enters the wrong answer. Since everything is done online, homework can now be due late at night, or on weekends. For 8.01, there are 2 assignments weekly that must be submitted before 11:30 PM on Thursday and 8:30 PM on Sunday. One of the biggest drawbacks to this system is that everything is computerized, and if you miss the deadline by even ONE SECOND, you get a zero for all the problems that you didn’t submit before the deadline.

So my roommate Zach and I suddenly remembered that we had a Mastering Physics assignment due last night at 8:10, and this was basically the ruckus that ensued:

Disclaimer: This does NOT happen on a daily basis. =p

Zach: Do we have a Mastering Physics assignment due today?
Me: Crap, you’re right!!

*logs on and attempts the questions*

*everything is fine, until 3 minutes before the deadline*

Me: Three more minutes! What do you still have?
Zach: The reading question and the one on escape velocity.
Me: Me too! Dude, did you read the chapter?
Zach: I don’t remember any of it!
Me: Me neither! Dude, where’s my book?!

*retrieves the Physics book from some corner in the room*

Me: Uhh, the chapter is about Kepler’s Laws of Gravitation.
Zach: Oh! That’s easy! *scribbles something into the reading question*
Me: *writes* “I … found … this … chapter … to … be … pretty … confusing … because … Kepler’s … third … law … is … confusing …..”

Me: One and a half minutes!
Zach: Let’s see the escape velocity question…oh crap! It has like seven parts!
Me: *clicks in* AHHH.
Zach: *reads* The key to making a concise mathematical…blah blah…find the mechanical energy of a object blah blah blah…assume gravitational potential energy is zero at large distances. I don’t know what this is! What are you doing?
Me: I’m doing the multiple choice! Yes, yes, no, yes, no….YESS I’m getting all of these right without reading the questions! It’s crazy!
Zach: ARGG ok I’ll go and do those as well!

Me: AHHH THIRTY SECONDS. What is the formula for escape velocity?!
Zach: AHHH it’s something to do with the square root of something!!
Me: AHHH FIFTEEN SECONDS! Stop doing what you’re doing! Press submit!! Press submit!! They’ll give credit for the questions that we at least answered!!

*frantically presses “Submit Item”*

Zach: I’m pressing it!! I’m pressing it!! AHHH “Cannot submit homework when there are incomplete parts”!!

*bursts out laughing*


Zach: Okay, I’ll just take the time to do this homework assignment over properly.

My screen: “Homework submitted 1 Minute and 39 Seconds late and received 0% of available credit.”
Me: So all that work and I still got 0% for the Escape Velocity part.
Zach: Oh well, at least it was fun.

*two hours later*
Physics Instructor (in an email): Due to a confusion of dates on the course webpage, your Mastering Physics homework had been extended by one day.

54 responses to “SNOW SNOW SNOW!”

  1. eric says:

    ya we never see snow in SoCal either

  2. Kayla says:

    dang.. i was so close to first… anyway. good blog. we never get snow in texas… international house sounds delicious.

  3. donaldGuy says:

    I also look forward to snow if/(positive thinking) when I’m at snow.. we have occasional snow here .. but I’ve never really experienced anything over an inch and a half. I suspect after awhile, however, I may take to the tunnels .. looking at the tunnel maps .. it occurs to me that if I live in EC .. I could actually go a long time without going outside unless I had to go to the student center for food and/or DDR. This would probably not be a good plan .. but its good to know I have the option.

    So yea, I had a similar physics experience last year while my high school was using WebAssign .. it also ended alright (wasn’t that a good story). I may never get to/ have to experience TEAL .. if I do well on the Physics C exams I plan to be crazy and go for the 8.0X2 variety.

    and by the way .. I did, in fact, love your abrupt transition

    Anyway… I’m tired .. excuse my lack of coherency…

    first?! (interrobang) (probably not by the time I hit post)

    Have fun in snow and physics,
    ~Donald Guy

  4. Shauna says:

    LOL about the phys homework

  5. Carolina says:

    Your physics story made my day =] … that, and I’m suddenly hungry….

  6. Snively says:


    Somebody should do an entire blog entry about Mastering Phycs because it causes some of the most hilarious moments of panic ever!

    I have a feeling very similar situations to yours happened all around campus last night, I know it happened where I was.

    Very nice post, well done!

  7. Anonymous says:

    OMG. That was so intense. My arteries were expanding from the stress of those last 30 seconds before you got 0% for that assignment. Online classes melt my brain…

  8. Andrew says:

    nice entry. As anon above me said, intense. On another random note, hi Kayla (third poster). It actually snowed in Dallas on thanksgiving day, it was quite a nice suprise.

  9. Michael says:

    Gaaaah mastering physics. My AP teacher uses it…it’s a love/hate relationship…we all love to hate it!

    Glad to know I’ll be seeing it more (here, or at another college…but hopefully here) :-p

  10. Anonymous says:

    “Mastering Physics” sure sounds a lot like “Mastering General Chemistry.” Oh the memories….

  11. BB says:

    HAHA!! I love your story.

  12. MTM says:

    Hahaha, great story about the physics hw.

  13. Karen says:

    Sounds like the library computers the passing period before any French composition is due. One day, Google Translator will crash from overuse smile

    Anyway, I plan to opt for “Physics for people with no calculus” if accepted, because the only thing more painful than physics without having had calculus will probably be physics without actually learning anything in physics class. We just did vectors. I am excellent at drawing triangles to scale, but not so good at anything that requires actual knowledge smile

    And I totally agree, snow isn’t snow unless you can’t see the tops of your feet when you jump in it!

  14. Xaq says:

    You lucky people with good physics teachers. I had a good one last year, but we got a new teacher this year and she is completely useless! She asks one of my friends for the answers because he’s better at it than she is! How to teachers graduate without knowing their subject?!

  15. Anonymous says:

    i’d be interested in hearing more about the international house smile

  16. Anonymous says:

    haha, that is so funny! smile

  17. Ginger says:

    Wow…that was an absolutely hilarious story about the physics homework!

  18. Hawkins says:

    hahahaha, I laughed so hard at the physics story! I can’t wait.

  19. Aaron says:

    Everyone come to terrascope-or watch our live broadcast!

  20. Anonymous says:

    oh fun! we just covered those gravitation stuff in my physics lecture today at my local community college 2 hours ago… (labs days are 6 to 11PM….and hope we don’t crash into anyone on our way home xP).
    so far all my community college hw has been optional.

    (wait… there is a physics without calc at MIT?)

  21. milena '11 says:

    I kinda have a love/hate relationship with mastering physics. It’s like I hate having to do that plus the pset plus everything else for my other 3 classes, but if I were left to my own devices, I would never ever practice physics and I’d be doing extremely bad. So mastering physics is a necessary evil, at least for me.

    But I must admit, I do love my professor and my TA. They’re awesome.

    And you had arroz con gandules?! Deelish. I make really good rice. So that means that there’s a Puerto Rican in iHouse, and that’s sort of confusing because I thought I knew all of them already… weird.

  22. Anon9 says:


    YAAAAAY!! PHYSICS!!! *bounce up and down for 10 min*

    I can’t wait to learn everything about Physics!

    Physics Physics Physics smile < HUGE GRIN

  23. Doris says:

    Ahh I’m really bad at managing my time (it’s 2:21 AM as I’m writing this). Seems like that might be a… minor problem for me if I get into MIT. Time to learn to stop procrastinating! raspberry

  24. Lini says:

    Oh god. I can’t stop laughing at your physics story.

  25. Marissa says:

    This sounds a lot like the problems I have with the WebAssign assignments I have to do for my AP Physics class >_This sounds a lot like the problems I have with the WebAssign assignments I have to do for my AP Physics class >_<

  26. victor says:

    Woww!!! I too had quite an awesome experience with physics. Only this time I was exploring the similarities between Newton’s conception of planetary motion and kepler’s. I was greatly impressed by the archaic mathematical tools used by Kepler in observing that kind of motion through charts left by another great astronomer of old.
    Newton’s a genius!!!

  27. victor says:

    Woww!!! I too had quite an awesome experience with physics. Only this time I was exploring the similarities between Newton’s conception of planetary motion and kepler’s. I was greatly impressed by the archaic mathematical tools used by Kepler in observing that kind of motion through charts left by another great astronomer of old.
    Newton’s a genius!!!
    Elliptical geometry coupled by stellar bodies in motion is verrrryyy puzzzling!!!!

  28. The E says:

    Chuck Norris can make epsilon Chuck Norris can make epsilon < 0

  29. The E says:


    Epsilon less than zero then

  30. Reg says:

    I do that all the time :D

    Well used to, because now our school is back to the old-school method :D

  31. laila says:

    Your physics anecdote was hilarious.. Aghh.. Can’t stop laughing!

  32. Lauren S. says:

    Good story. I’m jealous of the snow.

  33. Bassil says:

    Looks like you lucked out on that homework assignment. Working under time restraints must be boss!

  34. Tom Tseng says:

    MIT is the best university in my heart.

  35. Judy Hao says:

    Talk about last minute work smile

    LOL, and then find out it’s extended for one day.

    That happens to me alot. I’d do a whole English paper and then the due date is pushed back for a week. Well, leaves me more time to begin my other large assignments early. raspberry

  36. Grace '11 says:

    haha chris, do you mean synonym or acronym? and omg no thanks to 8.01 for sending that almost 2 hours after the deadline!

    yay bts!

  37. Joyce says:

    hahhaa that was funny, that happens quite a lot in my current high school. I can’t wait to see snow!! it’ll be a much welcomed change to the hot climate here in malaysia.

  38. Vytautas says:

    Snow is really cool. We have this thing here(Lithuania) every year, but last few years really had a lack of snow. Last year it actually didn’t snow until the middle of Jan, so we had a snowless Christmas, but then again, it was snowing in Easter :D
    And to speak about last minute physics, I could say only one thing(Homer tone): Mm… Physics

  39. bah…i missed first place by 9 hrs. 25 mins. and 1 day.

    **§ßÞ ™

  40. Ruth says:

    Wow! Escape velocity haunts me again. Today, during Science Bowl practice, there was a question involving escape velocity, and we were all like, “Huh?” The question involved halving the distance between blah blah blah… and the answer was 1.4 m/s and we thought, “How’d they get that answer?” and then someone pointed out that 1.4 was approximately the sqrt(2). Siiigh. I guess I should go find out what that is now, since I’ve seen it twice today.

  41. Lian says:

    lol…I just finished studying escape velocity in AP Physics and I’m just taking a break from a lab about Kelper’s law…hmm…I guess I can’t excape physics after all…

  42. Lian says:

    *escape, sorry…

  43. Anonymous says:

    death to snow that doesn’t cause snow days
    they havent cleared the sidewalks yet and the ice is slippery

  44. Aditi says:

    I live in a tropical country where it NEVER snows… *sigh*

    i want snow! :(

    TEAL sounds insane. but fun.but insane raspberry

    chris now i’m wishing i had your luck with the multiple choice questions on the SAT2

    i WANT to do physics for the truly insane :D

  45. @ ADITI
    by the way adi….r u frm HINDUSTAN ????????

  46. Aditi says:

    @*ninGa | DoDo ™ { rEincArnaTe]) } : yes i AM from india. why do you ask?

  47. Concerned says:

    Good luck to everyone

  48. Anonymous says:

    More snow today!!

  49. Rohit Mishra says:

    TEAL sounds fun, great (not so much for ppl planning 2 doze though!)I don’t know how old proverbs like “do ur work as soon as u can” keep proving correct. prblm being that we realize it after the time has passed,

  50. Kathy '10 says:

    YAY i’m on your blog!! and so are my garlic noodles! I’m famous smile

  51. Joy says:

    LOL that physics episode is absolutely hilarious!

  52. … i’m after the spam comments…

    but yes, your critically-acclaimed (yes it’s THAT good) Taiwanese azuki bean soup w/ rice balls was indeed AMAZING!!! thanks for giving us the leftovers (we finished it in… about 5 minutes, seriously!). hope you’ll be able to make it for the ATS lunar new year banquet. ::pokepoke…pokepokepoke:: haha.

    just stumbled upon your blog… you’re doing a wonderful job! keep it up. =D