One of the unique aspects of MIT's academic calendar is that in addition to our fall and spring terms, we assign the month of January its own separate term known as IAP (Individual Activities Period). The purpose of this is to encourage students to step back from the classroom for a second and go pursue some individual activity like focusing on research, seeking out an internship, studying abroad, et cetera.
I am very happy to have spent my senior year IAP with the Global Teaching Labs (GTL) program in Italy. I was placed with a host family in Casalecchio di Reno, a town in the suburbs around Bologna and connected with Liceo Leonardo da Vinci, a secondary school where I'd be teaching physics to final year students for the month.
I had three weeks to teach about 160 students special relativity and electromagnetism in an educational system that was foreign to me with students who would be seeing this material for the first time in a second language. Needless to say there were plenty of challenges here but this was one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life, and I was so grateful to all the amazing students, professors, and staff I got to meet in my time here.
In addition to the invaluable time I spent living with my amazing host family, picking up the language, and adjusting to life in Casalecchio, I also got serious experience refining my teaching habits and preparing lessons across cultural and linguistic barriers. I had been asked to prepare lessons on special relativity and electromagnetism, which are already two difficult subjects on their own. However now I had the additional challenges of teaching students these concepts for the first time in a second language and without the very formal math I had learned to study these subjects for the first time.
Thankfully my students were not only capable of following with these concepts but excelled in their material, and I was very grateful and surprised by how much progress we were able to make together in such a short amount of time. Additionally, I saved and compiled the lecture notes I prepared for these courses and I've included them below some of the photos from this program. Hopefully they'll be fairly decent resources for anyone attempting to learn more about these very foundational subjects in physics, but without a lot of the more rigid math requirements that's typically expected for these classes.