Monday, May 28, 2007

ECS tutorials follow me into my sleep.

My SCOPE team was watching Gallimore present to a bunch of collared-shirt-and-glasses types in the back of a room that looked like AC109. He was doing very well. I was getting very restless. Most of the audience seemed to be following the presentation, but the front row was made of 6 kids (aside from them all speaking English, they were the most diverse group of kids you could imagine) around the ages of 10-11 years old who were utterly lost. Too many abstractions in the presentation for the NDA's sake. "I'm Vague-Man! I work at the store! I do things!" I wanted to burst in and whisper to Eric that dude, the kids didn't get it. But that wasn't the point of our presentation; they weren't our customers, so he was giving the right kind of talk.

So when it came my turn to talk, I ignored the collared shirts, hunkered down in front of the kids, and gave the example of using our system to control... a Lego motor. And the scene gradually shifted into an ECS tutorial. A motor materialized at my elbow when I turned around, and when I turned from drawing diagrams of torque on the blackboard it was not surprising to find it hooked up to a DAQ, which was plugged into a laptop chugging MATLAB which had definitely not been on the table before...

We talked about Ohm's law (again) and I found myself thinking, for completely unrelated reasons as the kids pretended to be electrons, that I should really pick up a book on semiconductors afterwards (I should). It wasn't until a towheaded boy piped up about the nonlinearity of various components that I realized it was odd for 5th graders to understand the differential equations associated with viscous damping. How are they asking these questions? I thought in wonder. Oh! I'm dreaming!

Gosh, I should add this stuff to the textbook!
I thought, and found myself staring at the side of a digital alarm clock, followed by a slight wave of disappointment that I wasn't actually teaching.

Lots of thinking to do. And lots of work. I just need to be at my computer long enough to do it. The family's been doing a good job of keeping me away from my laptop, but I'm going to tell them that today, after lunch, I really need to get work done now.

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