frosci Archive



Written by

img February 24, 201511:38 amimg 1 Comments



We sent two baby Bwoggers to their 11 am FroSci lecture as they guzzled a bottle or two of the cheapest white wine International had to offer (−OH, ya feel?). Throughout the lecture, they managed to develop a drinking game AND learn about black holes (though we all know that their consumption induced them into their own black hole of drunkenness). Read about their experience and the innovative drinking game that you can now replicate (isn’t repetition a part of the scientific method anyway?). 

We walked into FroSci lecture yesterday morning (right past the security guards harassing other froshies for bringing in chamomile tea and Starbucks tiramisu lattes) toting two iClickers, a box of granola, two nondescript containers (a Minute Maid apple juice bottle and a Blue Java travel mug) filled with a bottle’s worth of pinot grigio, and a genuine love for science. The lecture started with the lecturer saying that they would start cracking down on cell phone use in lecture…but what about drinking?

We played at pacing ourselves–drinking games are great ways to do that, right? Predictably, the rule list got long enough after the first ten minutes that it was more a dash to the finish than anything else. Here were the rules:

Drink when…

  • Someone asks a question
  • Everyone collectively flips the page of the lecture slide packet they printed out
  • The lecturer describes the FroSci “team” as “data-driven”
  • The lecturer plugs the Twitter (@FoSColumbia #FroSci)
  • You have to use your iClicker (not nearly often enough for the $40 price tag!)
  • You get the iClicker question wrong
  • You get the iClicker question right
  • The lecturer describes a ridiculous scenario (like dropping your keys in an elevator to test if you’re in a building or in space?)
  • Some asshole gets up to use the bathroom and makes you pull in your legs
  • An athlete falls asleep

Read more about drunken FroSci after the jump!



Written by

img November 20, 20141:34 pmimg 4 Comments

They all sat on the side opposite Bwog because we're too intimidating.

Everyone sat on the side opposite to Bwog because we’re too intimidating.

As part of Columbia’s effort to revamp the Core science course, an open forum was held last night allowing for student input.  FroSci Fault-Finder Eric Cohn reports.

Last night, to a surprisingly sparse crowd, the Committee for Science in the Core held an open forum as part of its effort to formulate a new Core science course.  The committee was formed last September upon the recommendation of the Educational Planning and Policy Committee after a comprehensive review of FroSci in 2012.  The committee has been exploring alternatives to FroSci, which were discussed at the forum—albeit somewhat nebulously.

Two co-chairs of the Committee—Earth and Environmental Science Professor Peter deMenocal and Philosophy Professor Philip Kitcher—led the forum alongside two student members, Violet Nieves, CC ’15 and Ari Schuman, CC ’15.  At the beginning of the event, all four expressed their commitment to hearing student input to improve their ideas for a seminar-based course that would likely take one of two forms: the class would either be a chronological survey of the history of the universe, or it would focus on science’s “greatest hits” since the advent of the scientific method.

The “history of the world” version—tentatively known as “Humans in the World”—would consist of weekly topics broken down into very specific phenomena for scientific study to emphasize a particular way of scientific thinking.  Thus, whereas this form of the seminar would bring in the scientific skills along the way with the content, the “greatest hits” version—tentatively called “Scientific Inquiry”—would start with the skills as a foundation and then introduce the content.  Still, Nieves emphasized that the finalized version of the course could be an intermixture of these two proposals.

Nieves began—after a fervid assurance that the “Columbia bureaucracy” would not be staging a “coup” against students on the Core science front—by emphasizing that the committee wants to be in a “quite open” dialogue with students to create “not exactly transparency, but translucence.”  A student later rejected this claim, saying that there was very little transparency until now.  The committee did not revisit this retort, although the holding of a forum seems to be at least a step in the right direction.

Following Nieves, Kitcher—in his dapper purple shirt and beige suit—opened his introductory speech with an apology, anticipating the process to be rather slow.  The audience swooned over his accent and gladly accepted his apology, although I was somewhat disappointed that I may not see the fruits of the committee’s efforts in my tenure.

Midway through the forum, a student proposed that the committee write a list on the Schermerhorn chalkboard of the key components of a new Core science course.  By the end of the forum, the goals (though relatively nonspecific) included:

  • Getting students to think scientifically
  • Curing the fear of science
  • Creating a sense of wonder around the science discussed
  • Teaching scientific literacy
  • Giving students the opportunity to experience cutting-edge research

Read about the specific critiques of FroSci after the jump.



Written by

img November 18, 20142:17 pmimg 0 Comments


FroSci told me there would be more feathers

Birds, dinosaurs, and denizens of Columbia College, take note. On Wednesday, November 19, at 7:30 pm in Schermerhorn 501, the co-chairs and members of the Committee for Science in the Core will be hosting an open forum to discuss possible changes to FroSci, or alternatives to the class entirely. Our suggestions for alternatives include: Intro to Expressive Yodeling, The Art of Complaining Loudly, and Haberdashery 101.

Specifically, the committee is considering a seminar-style course similar to CC and LitHum. The committee has also released a report on Science in the Core, detailing the background, approaches, next steps and a timetable for the decision, which states that a pilot program of these seminar-style FroSci sections could begin next fall semester.

As one Bwogger notes, “a faculty member I spoke with vocalized that a number of faculty would rather get rid of FoS, because it’s expensive and students hate it.” Read Deantini’s invitation to the forum and get some names of professors/committee members you can contact with your questions, concerns or emotionally charged FroSci rants.

Your official invitation awaits you after the jump



Written by

img April 07, 20141:32 pmimg 2 Comments

Strange things happen in Frontiers of Science. Today, in the spirit of the Biodiversity section of the class, five avid pupils decided to dress up in animal costumes for class. Our wildlife photographer captured images of several giraffes, an owl and a dinosaur. One of the perpetrators said of their bold statement, “We’re biodiverse!” Clearly they haven’t been actually attending class: if they teach you anything in frosci, it’s the disappointing fact that dinosaurs actually had feathers. Get some more accurate costumes next time!



Written by

img February 19, 20135:12 pmimg 38 Comments

HughesYesterday, Professor Hughes began Frontiers of Science’s three-lecture physics unit by playing Lil Wayne, changing clothes on stage, and displaying 9/11 and Nazi Germany footage. Various news outlets (Slate, TIME, NY Daily News) have picked up the story, and here is some of the known coverage for today:

  • Fox News’s The Five at 5 pm
  • ABC Eyewitness News at 5:30 pm (Channel 7)
    • Update: here’s ABC, featuring Bwog Daily Editor Sarah Thompson, CC’16!
  • Fox News’s Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld at 3 am

Also, Columbia released the following statement saying that faculty members bear “corresponding responsibilities” and that they are “reviewing the facts” of the lecture.

Universities are committed to maintaining a climate of academic freedom, in which the faculty members are given the widest possible latitude in their teaching and scholarship. However, the freedoms traditionally accorded the faculty carry corresponding responsibilities. Columbia’s Faculty Handbook states that “In conducting their classes, faculty should promote an atmosphere of mutual tolerance, respect, and civility [and] should confine their classes to the subject matter covered by their courses.” While one must exercise caution in judging excerpts from a lecture or short presentations from an entire course outside of their full context, the appropriate academic administrators are currently reviewing the facts of this particular presentation in quantum mechanics.



Written by

img February 18, 20132:00 pmimg 113 Comments

He undresses

He undresses

If you think Frontiers of Science is a boring, useless class, think again—the Core’s most infamous class went wild today.

According to our reports, the first class of the physics unit was running a bit late when the lights went out. When they came back on, professor Emlyn Hughes was in the spotlight.

Then Snoop Dogg’s  Lil Wayne’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” started playing in some sort of weird combination with deadmau5, Billy Joel, and Die Antwoord (UPDATE: we’re pretty sure this is what was playing) and he started to undress and put on a hoodie and sunglasses. After that, he curled up into a fetal position in his chair as images of 9/11, terrorists, and Nazi Germany started playing on the projector.

Finally, the show was interrupted by ninjas who appeared and smashed puppets onstage.

But none of this was as offensive as the fact that he proceeded to display a Big Bang Theory clip in a “Science” class.

We shit you not. And it makes no sense to us either.

Here’s the video:

FroSci Gone Wild from Bwog on Vimeo.

Update, 2/19 4:30 pm: The University has finally released a statement saying that “appropriate academic administrators” are “reviewing the facts of this particular presentation.”



Written by

img October 26, 20111:00 pmimg 4 Comments

A tipster noticed the following provocative midterm practice question:

What's the frequency of a great tit?

Because, you know, as the sole creatures in the world that emit sound, the Blue Tit and the Great Tit are the only two animals that could haven beeen used for this question. Nice try, FroSci.



Written by

img January 23, 200710:28 amimg 10 Comments

The Core has frequently inspired as much acrimony as intellectual curiosity, and no one class has borne so much controversy as the disproportionately-loathed Frontiers of Science. From amid the tepid grumblings of the meekly subjected, however, comes the roar of the freshman class, taking a stand – where else? – on Facebook. Sports, science, and general “file under S” categories correspondent Christopher Morris-Lent reports from the front lines of first-years’ quarrel over David Helfand’s brainchild.

Few topics outside the quality of food at John Jay can arouse the sort of passionate vitriol or resigned apathy amongst freshmen that Frontiers of Science does. With half of Columbia College’s Class of 2010 already subjected to the insidious doctrine of climate change, astrophysics, and other infinitely complicated concepts such as bar graphs and standard deviations, the CC ‘10 Student Council has devised another way to pretend that it does something constructive, creating under the guise of a Facebook “event” a sort of forum where the disillusioned can air their frustrations and the contented can defend the third nipple of the Core, either on the wall of the event itself, or by sending mail to Academic Affairs.

Barely four hours into the proceedings, a lively rhetorical boxing match has already began to explode on the wall, with those who thought Frontiers bit the proverbial big one comprising one side, and those who thought it was merely mediocre forming the other. The administrators, composed of the aforementioned CC ‘10 apparatchiks and a groupie or two, are collectively playing the roles of both the impartial referee and Don King.

A blow-by-blow, after the jump!




Written by

img May 08, 20069:49 pmimg 9 Comments

This year’s second crop of freshmen should be finishing up their Frontiers of Science exam right about now, which Bwog learned was administered on 18 single-sided pages per test taker (not including Blue Books). Those familiar with Frontiers will bear with us for a little back of the envelope calculation:

There are approximately 1,000 students in the freshman class, so figure 500 taking the exam. 18 pages apiece = 9,000 total sheets of paper. At 8,333 sheets of paper per 40-foot, 7-inch diameter tree, that exam by itself took the life of a larger-than-average lodgepole pine. Pretty great for a course that talks so much about how global warming will see us underwater in a few centuries.

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.