I don't care if he's a nice person, this man literally assigned a take-home midterm due during the last week of classes. He is the epitome of one the teachers who thinks his class is the only class you're taking. The workload is lighter than average but without the TAs, you have literally no support. Again, he's a nice person and his love of science is endearing, but you cannot be a good professor if you think it's okay to skew your assignments towards the end of the semester -- none of us know what our grade really is in this class
I had David Helfand for this class last year, and I'm still thinking about it. To echo literally everyone else, WHY DOES THIS MAN NOT HAVE A GOLD NUGGET?? He's the most brilliant person to grace this campus filled otherwise with uptight academic hacks. He's available literally like 24/7, plans his lectures out with immense care and thought, and grades everything for a class with 90+ people by himself to ensure it's fair. I will say he can be intimidating, but if you get over that, he's really quite approachable. I am not a science-oriented person, but still found the material fascinating, and it was presented in a way that made it possible to understand if you put in the work. I took the class P/F, and am very glad I did because it would have wrecked my GPA if I hadn't. But that's because I'm really terrible at science and math. If you're at all decent at these things, don't concern yourself with the grade. It's no easy A, but you'll be fine if you care.
The lectures are extremely dry and you would better spend your time reading the textbook.
This is supposed to be a class designed for non-science majors and is instead an intro to Astrophysics. The material is ridiculously complex. Very math intensive. If you are weak with numbers like I am, do not take this class. Find another science class to fulfill your requirement. His style of teaching doesn't make sense and he bulldozes through so much work in class you will get lost. He doesn't stop or pause to see if we have questions or to explain it again slowly. He assumes you know the material already and that is how he instructs the class. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU FIND ANOTHER SCIENCE CLASS.
I am not sure why David Helfand does not have a gold nugget. He is the best professor I have ever had. He is incredibly captivating during lectures, and is always available if you need him. Not kidding always available, he only does office hours by appointment so it is one on one and he can focus on your needs. He is incredibly kind and funny, and makes a complicated subject easy to understand. The work was challenging, but it was one of the most rewarding classes Ive ever taken. Everyone should take this class. On a side note - probably the coolest guy ever, look up his ted talk he started his own university.
I love Professor Agueros and I love this class. I'm a Barnard psych major taking astronomy to fulfill my outside science, and the kid inside me that loved learning about the solar system in elementary school is completely satisfied. Professor Agueros is really engaging and thoughtful. His lectures remind me a bit of high school courses: he encourages questions, takes time to explain things repeatedly, and uses real-world examples to get his points across. He does a lot of think-pair-share/vote-think-pair-share activities where you consult your neighbor to answer a specific question, and he also loves assigning lecture tutorials, where you spend a portion of class working with a partner to answer a worksheet. He carries the partner theme onto the actual exams: you take the exam individually, turn it in, then take the exact same exam with a partner. The grades are averaged if they help you, and the partner exam is ignored if it hurts you. It's a really nice, albeit strange, grading style. My only gripe is that there was no syllabus until halfway through the semester.
Earth, Moon, and Planets - meets 2x a week Helfand is a great professor, lecturer, and person. I learned a lot in his class, found lecture pretty entertaining (he has some great demonstrations), and the work load was not bad at all. The problem sets can be tricky but you can work in groups and if you go to OF he explains everything. Quizzes were all open note and not bad at all and you were allowed a cheat sheet for the midterm. You don't have to do the assigned textbook reading (even though its super manageable), all you have to do is listen during lecture. Overall 10/10, loved the class, loved the professor - he actually cares about his students and puts a lot of effort into his lesson plans, making sure he explains everything in a very clear, detailed manner. He was always able to answer any questions I had and in general is an interesting dude. TAKE THIS CLASS :D
He's teaching style is horrible! I took this class because I thought it was going to be an easy A, yea right...This is truly an organized Astronomy class if you have taken AP Astro or any prior astronomy course, and you ACTUALLY like astronomy, then I think you'll be fine, otherwise choose another professor unless you want to have a shitty semester. Because of this class my GPA went down, and come on, we ALL care about our grades and GPA's so trust me when I say this class is just plain crap.
I don't usually like reviews in which the first sentence is "DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS." And yet that is exactly how I and many, many of my peers felt during this course. Yes, it is true that his exams are just repeats of the problem sets, and that he doesn't give any homework. But these are probably two of the biggest problems of the class. You don't learn anything-- his lecture style is painful, doesn't follow a logical flow, and is mind-numbingly boring especially as the semester progresses. And this stuff is actually pretty complex: it requires a lot of visualization which he was not able to provide despite his rotations of magic 8 balls around his head. To get the hang of this stuff, you need at the VERY least a globe that can spin on a tilted axis. An projected animated image of the rotating planets would make it even clearer... but he gave us nothing. Therefore, when you need to repeat it on the exam, it is almost literal regurgitation. Even though all the answers are provided to you before hand, memorizing them when you never grasped them in the first place (despite attending all of his lectures) is almost impossible. Explanation is the only way to understand something, and is the best way to be able to do well on a test. I know most people who take this course don't care about the subject matter, but even if your goal is just to get a good grade, there has to be SOMETHING of interest in the way it's taught. Secondly, optional problem sets? Yes, there are some students who do them diligently for their own good. But the majority of us are not like that. Even if you are, you don't go over them in class; if you're interested you could probably meet during office hours to chat about the homework but otherwise all you have as a resource to know if you're understanding the problems or not is a hastily handwritten solution set made by Professor Applegate. There is a reason that homework is usually assigned and checked! If you are looking for an easy A, to learn a bit about astronomy, or even just to get through the science req--Do Not Take This Class.
I took this class because I thought it would be interesting and an easy elective. Turns out it's more of an introductory physics course than astronomy. We could have easily covered many of the same topics without the intensive math. The class is advertised that anyone with a basic high school understanding of math can be successful - and that may be technically true. I assumed that meant that there wouldn't be a whole lot of it. Instead, it was extremely math intensive and I was overwhelmed almost immediately. The one exam we had that wasn't math-based was graded harshly, so I was bummed about that. But he did warn us ahead of time that he cares about the details. Applegate is a great professor. If you like science and you are GOOD at mathy stuff, then take this class. Attendance is very optional, the knowledge is interesting, and Applegate is very funny. The mathiness killed me, but you may fare better in that respect. There were no surprises in this course.
This class was fairly easy and the exams were pretty much exactly the problem sets. I felt bad because people kept leaving halfway through the lecture but to be honest attending really is optional. To his credit, Applegate is HILARIOUS and his humour will either make you cringe or burst out laughing but either way you'll look at the person next you awkwardly. He drinks seltzer out of a coffee thermos and is wonderful. I recommend this class to those trying to fulfill their science requirement. The workload is completely manageable and there is no homework.
Applegate is by far the best professor (besides Frits) I've ever experienced at Columbia. He hands down completely knows what he's talking about and how to explain it. That, and if you don't get it, he is completely approachable and has no problem explaining all the material to you AGAIN. Seriously, people just need to stop being so lazy and just do the reading. You do the reading, and go to class (not only will you explore some incredibly interesting material and LEARN SOMETHING) you'll get an A or an A+. Applegate wants his students to understand his class, and the material, because unlike most professors at Columbia, he's not an arrogant jerk with his own agenda. He'll take time to meet with you, help you, etc. He really digs astronomy, and it shows. You'll leave this class with immense background knowledgde, and easily a good grade. Definitely worth taking. This class was the deciding factor in my major choice of astrophysics... this stuff is mind-boggling. Take it.
Arlin P. Crotts. Say that name out loud. Doesn't it sound... unfortunate? I hate to be mean, but wow. Professor Crotts clearly loves astronomy. He just hates teaching it, especially to hapless art and humanities majors. (Although my TA had nothing good to say about his graduate level courses, either.) I felt like I was being taught by the "uncool professor who just doesn't get kids these days" from an ABC Family show. Actually, that's pretty much it - think of a way less understanding, relatable, and fun Mr. Feeny and you have Professor Crotts. (Right down to the tweed jacket and glasses. Though, where Mr. Feeny had a costume designer, Professor Crotts just has himself. Not as good.) So now you know Professor Crotts. What about the course, you ask? Well, it's pretty much what the previous review say. He blasts through the slides, which have little relation to the homeworks and quizzes, and yells about laptops. (Or, as he called them at one point, "electronic rectangles".) On the off chance that someone actually has a question, he will take far too long to answer it, if he answers it at all. (My personal favorite: A guy in the front row asks a question. Professor Crotts responds, "Well, that's really complicated and I don't have the time here to answer it, but...." and goes on to explain the answer for 15 minutes. When he is finally finished, he turns around. The guy who asked the question has fallen asleep.) Overall, take this class if you're good at math (because all of the homework is math), you need to get your science requirement out of the way, and you really can't get another astronomy lecture to fit your schedule.
I took this course due to a recommendation from a friend, and ended up regretting it. The sad part about this is that Professor Agueros seemed to be a really nice guy with a genuine interest in improving his class and soliciting feedback and also making lectures entertaining enough to come to. Unfortunately, he seemed to falter a little bit in the actual content of the class. We meandered for almost three classes on the meanings of 2012, which was momentarily interesting-- but also seemed like a colossal waste of time. In addition, we focused with great specificity on seemingly random things. Rather than coming away from this course with a good general knowledge of Astronomy, I feel like I now am in possession of a semester's worth of Snapple Facts. Often, you were better off reading the book and not showing up. The quizzes are also surprisingly hard to do well on-- primarily due to random point deductions. Both the quizzes and the homework suffer from a humanities-melded-with-astronomy ethos, which I really didn't feel was successful. Usually, you would get points off for not mentioning something a question didn't ask for or failing to understand a subtle trick within the question. There was almost no quantitative reasoning in this class, every quiz usually had 1 problem that involved numbers. To his credit, the final was very straightforward.
I agree with the reviewer below. Professor Agueros really cares about astronomy and therefore kept the course engaging and interesting. I was taking this class to fulfil the QUA requirement and never thought astronomy would interest me; after this class, I am definitely considering taking another astro course (but I'm not sure many other professors could make it as funny and interesting as Prof. Agueros did!). I certainly laughed a lot in his class, but as the person below said, ended up learning quite a bit in the end. In terms of the class itself, the topics covered are just enough to give you a good understanding of the universe, physics, and ratios/scales. Anyone can understand it if you pay attention. Yes, the quizes can sometimes throw you for a loop because he expects you not only to know the material from the text and lectures but also how to apply them in other ways--taking the formulas and laws and using them to explain astronomical happenings in your own words, essentially. Overall, great class and professor! (and not that much math, for people wanting to take this to fulfil Barnard's QUA!)
Marcel is a great professor, his lectures are super funny and are always enjoyable to go to, I highly recommend him if you actually want to learn about astronomy. He seems very interested in 2012 and the end of the world. There are only 4 homework assignments which are pretty easy. His quizzes are pretty tough if you don't go to lectures or study. You need to read everything from the book. The midterm and final were quite easy as long you put the work in to study. He is a really nice guy and he is always available to answer questions, and his sense of humor is great. This class isn't easy, but at the end of the course you actually feel like you learned something useful.
Professor Crotts' class will remind you of that painfully awkward presentation given by the nerdiest kid in high school. The kid may have had a cool topic, may have been incredibly passionate about it, but had zero delivery skills. His lectures are disjointed, hard to follow, easy to sleep through, and advisable to miss. Take this class if you want a chance to get a good grade - he's fair about his grading and often dropped a quiz the entire class bombed. The tests often have difficult questions that we didn't cover in lecture. Then again, nothing was covered in lecture that is at all relevant to the tests - mostly math/physics-based but not too challenging if you study the homework.
After taking two Astronomy classes with Applegate, I strongly suggest this class to anybody wanting to boost up their GPA. There is absolutely no homework, but it is vital that you just SHOW UP to lecture. Applegate writes all the notes you need on the board, so you don't even need to listen to him, just write down what he says and pay attention when you are interested. There is absolutely no homework, don't even bother buying the book. His midterms are literally his problem sets, with one or two added questions. He is a very charming man, and his jokes start to grow on you. TAKE THIS CLASS IF YOU WANT AN EASY A.
This was a super easy and relax class. Professor Applegate's humor always made the class laugh, though usually just because we sympathized that his humor was so awkward. His tests were really straightforward- they were taken directly from his problem sets, so as long as you memorized the problem sets and understood the basic concepts, you are good to go. I skipped tons of lectures, memorized the problem sets and got an A. His final was surprisingly difficult, but I think he curved the class. As long as you pick up the problem sets, everything is great! I am just sad that I can't take his class next semester, as well, since now I need another semester to complete my lab requirement...his class is definitely a good way to get rid of science requirements. easy and painless!
I almost completely agree with the last review of Duane. I just wanted to add how ridiculous it is that he expected us to write papers with our lab partners. None of the other labs had to write papers. It was such a waste of time and it happened around midterms for my lab. We mostly just sat inside and did lots of math. Also, I think he chose favorites and he could be rude to some of the students. He didn't explain things wells and would go back and forth about his thoughts. He seems nice at first, but as the semester wore on, I couldn't stand him and he became more temperamental.
I thought the last review was very kind to Crotts. I was in that same class and would describe it as one of my worst experiences at Columbia. He is definitely an intelligent man, but he is not a good professor. I am surprised more reviews have not been written about him. At first I thought that he was just so nerdy and so far removed from normal social interactions that he did know how communicate with people. However, sometimes he just seemed rude. He could be so impersonable and cold that it was beyond social ineptness. I felt uncomfortable talking to him at any time. He was rude before class, after class, in office hours, through email (if he ever chose to respond). A number of students said that he never responded to emails. This is true. If I or anybody went up to him in person and asked about the email, he acknowledge receiving it, but never provided an explanation or apology for not emailing back. I guess it was his way of forcing you to go to class... In class, he just went through the packets and avoided eye contact with the class. Then he gave us problem sets that were primarily math-focused. However, he never covered any math in class. So it was up to the students to learn it on their own; for some that was easy and for others not so much. The text does provide the formulas and basic applications of them, but sometimes Crotts' problems were more involved. There was no TA to go to for help and the professor didn't seem interested in anything involving that class. Then, half way through the semester, after the midterm, he told the class about the help room hours run by the grad students. The grad students are great; they offer help to all astro classes for an hour twice a week. The course is not that hard, but some people just are not suited for astronomy especially when it is taught by someone who is so distant and uninterested. If you can avoid this class, do so. I hear Applegate is much better. On the bright side, Crotts seems to be a fair grader. Unlike most classes, the final exam is not most of what your grades depend on. He weights the exams, quizzes, and hmwk reasonably and there are a lot of opportunities for extra credit.
Such a great professor! Although his sweater-vests were abominable, and his jokes even worse, Applegate definitely knows his stuff. The class was easy enough, but it's definitely recommended that one attend his lectures. The key to success on exams is taking the problem sets and attending the review sessions, where he explains EVERYTHING he'll be looking for. There are no surprises, and the exams are very straightforward. He also provides interesting insight into the field, especially for non-science majors, with him having been a scholar in astronomy for a long period of time. No more advice can be given- go to class, get the problem sets, go to the review sessions. It's that simple.
Every single class, Prof. Crotts hands out his powerpoint in a stapled packet, then presents it. 100% lecture here, 0 class involvement - which is fine for me, but some of you might not like that there really isn't much chance to participate unless you raise and wave your hand around and beg for a question/comment. I actually thought Crotts was sorta funny, but since this is probably your basic level science requirement class, you have a loooootttttt of people who a.) don't EVER come to class b.) just check their email/Facebook on their laptops. The hilarious part about this, is that Crotts would get LEGITIMATELY angry when people would have their laptops out for the last month of class or so. What made it funny, is that the people checking mail etc. would shut it, but the people who actually took notes via their computers would feel guilted into shutting their screens down because of Crotts "rage!" The lectures aren't particularly exciting, but I always thought there were a few interesting points brought up in each lecture... Crotts is basically the guy getting credit for pinpointing where ice is located on the moon by NASA, so say what you want, but he's obviously extremely intelligent. Unfortunately, I don't think he's able to articulate this intelligence in lecture that well, but he knows what he's talking about none-the-less. 80% of the homeworks (7 of them) and quizzes (~3) were math ONLY. Basically, he used what we had "learned" in class as a medium through which to give us physicsish problems that weren't usually too hard to figure out if you thought about them. So, going to class was of no difference. Those who were good at math did well, those who weren't struggled. Everything is handed out/announced in class, and Crotts did not announce/use his email for anything except a couple of changes about a homework/quiz. I sent him 3 emails this semester, and all fell on deaf ears. This method of giving HW/quizzes is his indirect way of forcing you to class... that is, if you don't have a buddy to join you. I had to go to every class just to make sure I didn't miss an assignment or anything, but those who knew others in the class were able to skip and just get the info from his/her friend. I know most of this sounds negative, but it's just the objective side of the class. Subjectively, I thought he was a good guy who you could talk to, although it would be slightly intimidating, I would assume. Aside from the homeworks, I never found it necessary to work outside of the class. Even the quizzes/tests didn't require more than 30-1hr of prep., because again, they were math based. Soooo, the work level is low, and not very difficult. I would say that last sentence is the most important for those who just care about banging out a req. painlessly. Take it: If you want a class with a curve, that you don't reallllly have to go to everytime, and that doesn't require much time outside of class. If you're good at math/analytic thinking. Don't take it: If you really looooove in depth astronomy and discussion of it... or if you can't deal with lectures for the entire class. Or, if you really struggle with math conceptions/application.
In retrospect this was the perfect class to take for your science requirement. Most of the time I didn't understand what he was talking about, mostly because I hadn't unwrapped the textbook and hadn't reviewed anything until 3 days before the final, but partly because he talked a lot about things that wouldn't be on the exams, like history or minor details by which I was very intimidated. Everything that will be on the exam is actually very basic and straightforward and the textbook explains very clearly, so open it and read it and do the problem sets to test your understanding before the exams. In my opinion, the textbook was very easy to read and helpful; I only studied from the book right before the final. The second half of the semester is heavily math-oriented but there are only a few difficult questions. Basically, you just need to plug numbers into a simple formula. Trust me, my math score on SAT was 500 and I loathe math and I was supposed to fail, but the book helped me understand fundamentals and was still able to get a B in the end. If I opened the book sooner and studied for midterms, I could have gotten an A for this class.
Many people complain about this class. It really is not that hard. Here is how you get an A in this class: 1. Read the chapter thoroughly. This is not hard because there is not a lot to read. 2. After you read, attend class. Professor Applegate explains things very well and is actually pretty funny. Sure, the lectures are kinda boring, but stick it out. Go to class! 3. Then, do the problem sets. These are an excellent tool because they are pretty close to identical to the tests and they come with solutions, so if you mess up you'll know it. You don't have to turn them in, but do them! 4. Kick butt on the tests 5. You got an A! The problem here is that a lot of people don't go to class and have never opened the textbook. You won't understand the problem sets if you don't do those two things. If you don't understand the problem sets, you can't ace the tests.
Nice guy, horrible teacher. All other sections of this lab got to look at the stars...considering it was a nighttime astronomy lab, I don't think it was unfair to believe that was what our section would do, too. However, we just ended up doing physics labs all the time. They were poorly taught, the math was explained so horrendously I almost had panic attacks during our quizzes, and he was just not a good teacher overall. Even the assistant TA agreed with us that he wasn't doing a good job.
You can tell that Prof. Applegate is actually a really nice guy, and he can be really funny. But this past semester there were some serious issues in his class. The lectures were fairly boring, and even though I was interested in the class, I had an EXTREMELY difficult time staying awake during them. That being said, the lectures were really helpful for the midterm and final. Originally, we were supposed to have two tests and a final, but he sort of stopped coming to class for a few weeks, so we didn't do the second test. He gave us problem sets with the answers to review with for the midterm and final, and they were straightforward tests. The problem sets were basically the questions. He had office hours, but I never needed to go to them. I tried to e-mail him for my midterm grade once (after not getting the grade for well over a month) but he never responded.
For those expecting slides of pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope and Star Trek style lectures about space being the final frontier this class will be a disappointment. It is an introductory astronomy course which means a lot of theory with a sprinkling of math. Professor Applegate isnâ€™t going to hold your hand through this course. If youâ€™re looking for coddling go home to your parents and find it there. He presents the material clearly, and in an engaging style, but it is up to you to do the work to learn what he offers. Memorization wonâ€™t help you in this class. He teaches concepts and expects you to apply them. Those who want to regurgitate their notes and expect an A will be disappointed. That said, Prof. Applegate is extremely generous with his time. He schedules multiple review sessions before each test where he is willing to answer any questions you have and he is very accessible during his office hours. He expects you to be an adult and take responsibility for your education by actually studying the material. Shocking! If youâ€™ve paid attention, looked over the review problems he hands out, and gone to at least one of the review sessions then the tests will be easy. He never tries to trick you. Itâ€™s not an easy A, but itâ€™s not a hard one either.
This class is for those, like me, who hate science but are forced to take science classes anyways. I found this class to be fairly easy, very little work, just like 3-4 problem sets which he gives you the answer for and doesn't collect, the tests are basically just like the problem sets. With only 2 tests worth 25% each and a final worth 50% each, you can't really bomb them, but this is fairly easy stuff. The lecture, though, is tediously boring, so use it for naptime or other work.
The previous review is spot on. Avoid taking this class with Patterson! From reading other reviews, I assumed it would be challenging yet doable Â… I was quite wrong. The problem sets were really difficult and time-consuming. The exams were mostly multiple choice with some medium-length response questions, and are nothing like the problem sets, so itÂ’s not like you can practice or anything. When asked for some sample problems he gave us a ton of practice questions from the textbook and said Â“These are much easier than the exam questions will be.Â” He wasnÂ’t kidding- the practice exam was really simple, and the midterm looked nothing like it. Well Â… thanks a lot Â… but whatÂ’s the freaking point then? He was also extremely vague and unhelpful when asked what to know for the exams, making it stressful to study. Yes he hands out notes but they barely help with problem sets, and even less for exams. So what does help you prepare for tests? Lecture? The Textbook? Nope. Even though he can be Â“funny,Â” he mostly just rambles on Â… clarity is not his thing, and he tends to spend lots of time on things we donÂ‘t need to know for exams or homework. He spends lots and lots of time on formula derivation, so one would think that understanding the formulas and being able to apply them will be important, right? Wrong! The book is decent as far as textbooks go but does not really help for problem sets and exams. Before the final, he made a big deal out of extrasolar planets, saying many times that even though we had not covered that material in class we should read the chapter in the book wellÂ… so of course I read the chapter very carefully, and am able to answer the ONE multiple choice question on the exam on extrasolar planetsÂ… Past reviewers who have said not to worry, even if youÂ’re lost this class is easy on the gpa Â… are quite simply, wrong. Yes there is a curve but there are people who manage to do well, thanks to previous physics background and perhaps previous knowledge of astronomy. I was really excited to take this class at first, but now I regret it. Take it with a different professor, Patterson is not worth the aggravation.
Professor Patterson is a nice guy with a cute sense of humor, but he doesn't lecture well at all in terms of clearly communicating information. The objectives of the lessons aren't clear, and it's difficult to distinguish what is actually taking notes over. He gives out handouts for most of the topics, but these are sparse at best and don't really reflect what you need to know for the exams. The lectures aren't useful, and he doesn't clearly define what he wants you to learn from the book. The subject matter isn't inherently difficult, but the presentation of it on the exams is often unclear and convoluted. Bottom line -- he's a really nice guy, but not the person that you can really learn anything relevant from.
DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS IF YOU VALUE YOUR GPA!!! Everyone says that this is a total blowoff, easy A kind of class. NOT true at all. Patterson is a nice guy but he doesn't teach at all. His lectures are nothing but meaningless babble, with a few songs here and there. His problem sets are hard and have little to do with the notes or book. Also his midterm and finals have almost nothing to do with the book and have absolutely nothing to do with the problem sets. Basically, nothing is related to anything and he rambles instead of teaching the material. This is NOT an easy course and one could find a much better way to fulfill their science requirement.
I definitely agree with the previous reviewer Â– take this class with someone else! During lectures, he alternates between rambling about whoknowswhat, muttering under his breath, and laughing at himself. Did he do any teaching? Not really. The problem sets were really difficult, and they count for 30% of the grade. We were pretty much on our own. It's been a really aggravating experience taking this class, it's just not worth the mediocre grade.
Yeah, Professor Patterson is the friendly, father-figure sort of guy. He is very easy-going and approachable, and at first I liked him a lot. As of now, however, I am thoroughly disappointed with the turnout with this class. Although it's mostly true, he thinks that everyone in the class is only there for the science requirement, and therefore treats the class as a joke. It's a huge waste of time. I rarely skip classes in general, but this one I find myself making excuses to not go. His problem sets are stupid, and I feel as if I haven't learned anything beyond the phases of the moon. I discourage anyone from taking this awful lecture class. Even the candy doesn't make it worth it (and that's saying something).
oh boy. i'd have to advise you not to take this class with this professer. patterson comes off sounding like he is going to be the easiest teacher ever, but the class isnt really that easy because you dont really learn anything from him so its hard to do anything on the problem sets, midterm, and final, even if they aren't all that hard. they only require a little bit of knowledge, but he doesnt give you any. the hour-fifteen lecure consists of him rambling about small, simiple things for way too long, him getting sidetracked, him making dumb jokes and laughing to himself, and him slowly working out equations on the board, doing all the math in his head (estimating very roughly). he doesnt teach you much in these lectures, but then you have to perform on the problem sets, midterm and final based only on these lectures, because nothing with this class follows the book. if you are goign to take this with him, seriously dont even buy the book. i'd say dont go to the lectues either, but you have to go and try to get some small amount of info from them so u can go off of that for the problem sets, midterm and final. ugh.
He's the nicest guy you'll meet. His class is an absolute blast (he sings, reads original poetry, and spends a lot of time showing slides of his own photos). Considering how much fun it is, you actually do learn stuff too. Most of the actual material you pick up while doing the problem sets (if you go to him during office hours he helps you through them step-by-step) and everything is graded pretty fairly. I had some physics background, which helped, but it really wasn't necessary. He holds nighttime viewing sessions (optional but fun) and gives everybody the chance to do a big extra credit project. Overall, easy on the GPA, a source of some cool info, and a lot fun.
HORRIBLE. Every single time I sat through this class I felt like I had done myself a disservice. His lectures are boring and redundant, and they are littered with his juvenile and pathetic attempts at jokes/wise cracks. It is incomprehensible to me that anyone would enjoy his course. It is bad on all levels and you would be much better off teaching yourself the material out of the textbook. STAY AWAY.
Jim Applegate was by far the WORST PROFESSOR I have ever had at Columbia in my opinion. Not only is he boring and dull, like the other reviewers said, but he treated me with no respect whatsoever. I attended every class and there wern't that many of us so he must have known who I was. Sometimes I would ask him questions about the tests and what the answers "should have been". He would automatically assume that I was trying to fight for a higher grade and dismiss me. I never once asked him to raise my grade, I was only interested in finding out what my mistakes were because all of this information would be on the final. He would never look directly at me or place his full attention on my question, no matter what it was. By the end of the semester he was plain rude to me. His attempts to be funny in class were pathetic. Nothing he said ever came close to being funny or interesting. I basically had to learn the material on my own with the help of my lab instructor because Applegate is a horrible professor. I I wanted to teach myself everything I wouldn't be paying to go to Columbia. I think he is a weakness in the Columbia staff and should be fired. He is a bitter person and a horrible professor.
I don't know what the past reviewer is talking about. This class is made for non-math people. I got a 1 (1!) on the Calculus BC exam, did not study for the midterm or finals, and came out with an A. Fritz is great person and always willing to help out if you do run into any math-related difficuly. All and all a great way to get rid of one semester of the science requirement with little effort.
Jimmy Applegate is by far the most quotable professor you'll ever have. Whether it's about throwing virgins down volcanoes, complaining about his friends and coworkers, mocking people in the front row and the inexplicable people in the back that urgently leave in the middle of class, or sacrificing goats, his bizzare and endearingly dorky sense of humor makes the lectures worth going to. Besides the fact that this class is meant for the "jocks," the material does go into some physics concepts that can be relatively challenging even for relatively bright people. But don't worry too much, the enrollment is so filled with somewhat--thick-skulled people--that the curve is immense. Just don't expect to be star-gazing and learning constellations.
Applegate knows his stuff, but you'll soon find out that this is irrelevant. He is a master at pretending as though he is teaching you the material of the course thoroughly, but come test time you woefully discover that unless you have been reviewing your notes constantly and doing your own studying through the semester that you will have to haul ass to pass with a good grade. This class previously had the reputation of an easy A, so, just to clarify: an A is possible in this class, however, you have to be willing to cram or be self motivated enough to review the material on a regular basis.
Ok, Fritz is a really nice guy. Given. The subject itself, if your not a math person STAY AWAY. If your looking for an easy course STAY AWAY. Although hes a generous grader, his lectures leave alot to be desired. He has a low voice and a very indirect, vague way of explaining material.However, if math is your thing, formulas, planetary data, all that relativity mumbo jumbo, go for it. Paerels is really cool.
Fritz rules.... He's a good guy who wants you to succeed and get a good grade in the class. The problem sets can be hard, and you don't get much in the way of partial credit but he drops the lowest so it'll all work out in the end. Some lectures are interesing, some are not but all are optional no reason to go every week just drop in to make sure you're not too lost.
This class seems to have something for everyone. If you're just filling the requirement, you can download the lectures online and get by fine. But if you become interested in the subject, as I did, it can be a really great class.
The best thing about this class is that it is over. For some reason I managed to sit through each class which really seemed like a huge waste of time. The subject is actually interesting but it seems like you can catch up on all of it on your own or by simply going to the review sessions before each exam. Applegate likes to ramble a lot and repeats himself at the beginning of every class. I only took this class to finish my science requirement, so if you are looking for an easy way out I recommend this course. However, if you don't want to be bored out of your mind every class, don't do it.
I really don't understand what the majority of reviewers are bitching about. The class is not particularly easy for the art majors - ok. For the rest it should be a piece of cake. Prof. Aplegate is really adorable - explains everything clearly and with a great sense of humour. He really ENJOYS teaching the class, although it is far beneath his competences. Overall a great class and a great professor.
This class isnt an easy A in the sense that you have to do no work. You definitely do have to study for the exams if you want to do well on them. That being said, if you do study, it shouldn't be too hard to get an A. He passes out review sheets and answers and if you are confident with all of them you should be fine on the exams. The material is about half conceptual and half mathematical -- but he gives you the equations for the tests so you dont even have to memorize them. In the beginning of the semester I thought Applegate was funny/amusing/quirky and the class was not boring; towards the end it did start to get extremely boring. As other reviews have said he could have given the lectures in about half an hour. Its not a joke class, but it is a relatively painless way to fulfill the science requirement -- the material isn't incomprehensible and if you study it is very possible to get an A.
I highly recommend taking any class with fritz! He really knows what heÂ’s talking about, (if you bother attending the lectures). His lectures are available on courseworks, and skimming through them once prepares you for the problem sets and tests. I wouldnÂ’t recommend closely studying the textbook. You should get an A without working too hard if you have a basic knowledge of physics. There is no curve on the tests but they are easy and entirely open everything: notebook, textbook, even computer! He drops one of the five problem sets, but if you go to him or any of the TAs for help they will practically do the problems for you. Definitely take this class to get out of a science requirement. Fritz is the sweetest teacher and a great guy!
I feel like Jim Applegate was going through a rough divorce or something this semester, because he was hardly as carefree and funny as previous reviews stated. He did make the occasional joke, and could be sort of quirky, but he seemed like a battered dog or something. Aside from that, this class is relatively painless in that there is no regular homework. The only disconcerting thing for non-science people like me is when the class abruptly switches from conceptual information (like which phases of the moon you can see from the north pole) to physics (how large a planet is if something orbits around it at such a speed), which requires me both to have to somehow remember formulae and do high school math that I didn't do well in high school, and can hardly remember now. That's the difference between the first and second midterm. One is conceptual, and one is physics. Unluckily for people like us, physics is most of the remainder of the class - and you keep thinking it might go away, but it doesn't. Until after the second midterm, and then with the 3 weeks left of class, you have a conceptual/physics together block, that is comforting, cuz you get what he's talking about again. The final is cumulative. Its true that most people don't go to class (its funny to see how much fuller that room is on test days), but I went to every class, and still felt abused by the second (physics) midterm. I don't really know what to tell you. He says that he bases your final grade on how you did on the final most of all, but I can't validate this because, as a previous review stated, his is the only grade I haven't gotten back yet, while all my other grades were submitted A WEEK AGO. But Jim Applegate isn't a monster, but he isn't your best columbia professor either. I do think he's a guy doing his best who desperately wants to be liked, and is a nice man and kind of funny.
I feel like I should warn people, because many kids probably read all these reviews and think that this really is going to be a joke class, and thateveryone will get an A. Well, remember, there can never really be a class where everyone just gets A's, especially in a class with about 200 students (or more?). The whole reason there is that gigantic curve is because half of the kids fail the final miserably, so that the kids who thought they might just get B's end up getting A's. And the reason that half fails is because most of the students never go to class. Really, MOST of them don't go. Applegate even acknowledges this. He likes it. He said once in class that he's glad, because the classroom can only fit like 100 students. So you really CAN'T have everyone go to class all the time. It's just ridiculous that they would even set up a class like that at Columbia, where you really are expected not to go to the class. The problem is, it's really hard to just learn the stuff on your own, even if it's not exactly rocket science. But you can't go to class all the time. The seats all fill up and then the overflow people have to sit on the floor. It sucks. That's if you even muster up enough motivation to go to class, which is very tough for a lot of people because it's so boring and stupid. Like some of the other reviews said, the only real information he gives out in his lecture takes about 25 minutes. The rest is just bull crap. Really. You almost can't believe it. The guy paces back and forth in front of the room, whether he's speaking or not. He reaches one wall and then does and about-face and marches right back to the other wall, over and over again. Sometimes there is just dead silence, while he's thinking of some stupid, inappropriate joke to say. So it's basically torture to sit through this one hour fifteen minutes class, for 25 minutes of information about basic astronomy/physics. And the reason that it's so hard to teach yourself this information is that, even though it is basic, it's very _specific_ stuff. You have to do the formulas and everything the way HE does them. So even if you are a science major with exceptional math and science skills you still couldn't just walk in and do the stuff. But apparently that is what Columbia expects of half of the students, the half that probably AREN'T science majors because they're just taking this class for an easy A to fulfill the science requirement. But there still aren't enough seats for this half of the class to actually attend the lecture, even if they will themselves to put up with a full class of torture for about 20 minutes worth of information. Fair warning to all--this class is not a joke. A LOT of people get A's, but that's mostly because a LOT more do terribly on the midterms/finals. It's better to take a science class that may be a little harder, but will be more interesting to you than astronomy with some strange professor, so that you might actually go to class sometimes AND actually have a seat to sit in when you go.
Fritz couldn't be any nicer! He is a wonderful person, but his class is beyond boring! I have to admit most of the class is there simply to fulfil their science requirement, but he does not teach this class as if it is an introductory one. The text of the book and his lectures have nothing to do with what the problem sets or midterm, and im assuming final will be about. In short, very nice guy, but not so interesting as a teacher! (most days about 1/4 of the class shows up to his lectures)
this class is absolutely perfect for non science maors who want to get a fairly easy A-- sadly, i really have not learned anything, bc you really dont need to go to class (at any given time, only about 1/4 of the clas shpows up)- the problems sets are not easy, but you work in a gorup-- and you can go to him anytime and hell basically give you the answers-- hes awesome- he wants alll the students to do well, so he'll help you out as best he can (also on the midterm! which was open book, open notes, open anything)
Applegate is not the sweet, bumbling professor that many of the other reviewers descirbe -- rather he is extremely crabby and though quirky not very amusing. He doesn't seem to like teaching this class much and it shows. THIS CLASS IS CRAP. If you are interested in astronomy and wanted to learn interesting stuff about our planet and the galaxies and the moon and so on then DON'T take it. The class is basically a review of high school physics and 8th grade algebra - but who remembers how to do physics and algebra?? I didn't do any work for the class -- most people didnt even show up to the lectures -- except for cramming before the exams, which was such a shag. Absolute bollocks.
Prof. Patterson is great. For me, the most challenging aspect of this class was the math, which was limited in any case. It's generally not a difficult class and it's heavily curved, which makes up for the sometimes challenging problem sets. I really enjoyed going to class just to hear Patterson's hilarious stories and jokes and make sure not to miss his singing, which was amusing and great fun. He's a super professor and always available outside of class. Take this class!
This class is sort of a mixed bag. Patterson himself is a great lecturer (although his self-composed songs were a ridiculous waste of time), ensuring that you won't fall asleep in class. The beginning of class to midterm is reserved for basic astronomy (what can be seen when) and physics, both of which should be easily mastered by even an english major like myself. The second part of the semester is reserved for particulars. All of it very interesting, although not very hard. If your looking to fulfill a science requirement easily, take this really interesting class. Otherwise challenge yourself a bit more.
Patterson is a very fun lecturer. He mixes his class with poetry, stories, slides, songs, props, and so forth. Notes are negligable as he passes out handouts that are nearly replicas of what he writes/draws on the board. Don't be fooled by the entertainment of the class though. When it comes to problem sets, midterm, and the final, you will see things that have never been presented in class save for a quick peek that is easy to overlook. When the pass/fail date came around, a good portion of the class excercised this option. Unless you have a feverish interest in astronomy and are willing to take every detail into account, do not take this class.
If you're looking for an easy and fun way to fulfill your science requirement, then this class is definately for you. Joe P definately leads an interesting class, mixing the regular lecture with frequent humor and experiments. He makes astronomy fun and exciting, and it's a really low-key class. Sometimes he's kind of vague, though, and he'll go off on tangents about his amateur photography or sing a song he composed about entropy - so he can get off topic, but it's still fun. The problem sets can be kind of difficult and some questions look bizarre and deceptively simple when in reality he's asking you to do more thinking than is apparent. He doesn't really flesh out what he expects. But overall, a good, interesting class. And make sure to participate in some way - even though it's a large lecture, he still wants to get to know people through office hours, etc.
professor patterson is wonderful and brilliant. i loved taking this class and i usually don't enjoy science classes. he's really smart and has obviously had an interesting life and he tries to make the lectures really interesting. he writes songs and sings them in front of the class and tells jokes that are usually really funny. he's got a lot of office hours so make good use of them and ask questions in class because he loves answering them and sometimes he'll give you candy
Professor Patterson is a really nice guy. You really can't have him and not like him. He has this really dry sense of humor, the only kind of humor I can take in a professor- he doesn't laugh at his own jokes, and he often makes the class laugh. For example, the other day he said "You can actually smell ozone. pause. It smells pretty good, in fact, you can get kind of high on it ... But don't try this at home! He is always available and loves it when you come talk to him, and he is extremely helpful and friendly. As for the class, don't make the mistake I did and think it is just going to be an easy class where you talk about the earth, the moon, and the planets... Believe me, there's more. To be honest, there isn't THAT much math, but to me any math is too much math, so I griped about it alot. The problem sets can be pretty annoying, and you may find it difficult to actually attend class, especially when you are always really tired and he constantly turns off the lights to show slides of constellations. Astronomy-wise it's pretty cool, and he arranges for viewings and whatnot. I took this as a non-science major trying to easily satisfy the requirement, and I have to say it's a little more effort than I wanted to put forth. But maybe this is as easy as it gets! Anyways, bottom line: Professor Patterson is great, it isn't his fault people are lazy and hate math, and it's an okay class considering we are forced to take science.
If you want to learn about how to drop projectiles from tops of buildings onto Columbia College Deans' heads, this is the class for you. In the 75 minutes of this class, there is about 25 minutes of lecture, and 50 minutes of stories about how he subverts authority or humorous anecdotes (particularly humorous to him). I think the man just likes to hear himself speak.
Great professor who really cares about his students. He is very well respected in the astronomy community, and his fuzzy beard says it all. He makes every effort to make sure his students understand the material, which itself is interesting. The problem sets and quizzes are meant to make you think and he gives you all the equations and constants, and you can even bring notes to the exams. A great course to fulfill the requirement and make you like science again.
This is an EASY class. Any one at Columbia could get an A in this class with no sweat. The lecures are amsuing, but you don't need to attend religiously to still get high marks. If you are looking for a low-strees way to get a science class in this is the way to go.
just a word to the wise...if you'd like to get your Fall semester grades back before you start your Spring semester, avoid this professor. 1-21-03 and I still have no clue how I did in this class or what my GPA for last semester is. That said, Applegate is a smart fella with some REALLY quirky teaching habits. If you can put up with Mae West and Buzz Lightyear quotes and the fact that you won't know whether you're discussing planetary rings or global wind patterns, go for it
If you took AP physics in high school and did well, this class will be a breeze for you. For those of you who are not into science, it is still manageable. Applegate is a little odd, but he repeats things so many times that you almost have to learn them.
Prof. Appelgate epitomizes wilson from Office Space to a hysterical degree. The class is boring as hell until he gets going on a story, or some sexually vulgar tangent. The average IQ in the class is less than that of a turtle, but if you can deal with it, it should be a VERY VERY VERY easy A (if not A+).
Incredible professor, incredible class. I signed up thinking science was, like the swim test, a three-semester waste of my time and realized within the first five minutes of class how incredible science can be. Without a doubt the best lecturer I've had at Columbia thus far, and the only science course I've heard of (or sampled) that makes me want more. Take this class.
DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. Out of the 100+ students who took the class, an average of 50 showed up, understandably so. Applegate treats the class like it's a blow-off, which makes staying awake damn near impossible. I did, however, get lots of homework for other classes done. If you're looking for an easy yet EXCRUCIATINGLY boring A, take this class. Personally, I don't even think its worth it.
Professor Helfand is incredibly condesending toward his students and their abilities in understanding science. I am a physics major and I found his class belittling. The problem sets are not so much mathematically challening but rather confusing and he provides little outside help.
Helfand is a great and dynamic prof. He really cares for his students and tried his best to make the class into a discussion session too. The matter can be really interesting at times when he talks about cool stuff like black holes and space-time stuff. However, this class can appear to be a bit random at times. On the whole, a good way to complete the science requirement!
Professor Applegate is one of the favorite professors i've ever had at columbia. as for the previous review, that he never took attendance in class, it is a ONE HUNDRED person LECTURE. as long as one understands how to do the problem sets (by going to class- much clearer than the textbook), one should be fine on the midterm and final. Applegate is kind, a bit screwy and very understanding if one should have problems understanding the work.
Helfand is an excellent professor -- engaging, funny, clear, remarkably accessible considering the size (nearly 100 students) of the class. The class itself is a mixed bag. Helfand sees it as an astronomy-tinged introduction to scientific thinking, and a few of the general-science topics (for instance, back-of-the-envelope estimations) are worthwhile. Most, though, aren't: the class went through basic chemistry and high school physics, which much of the class already knew. And if the difference between speed and velocity never managed to reach you, you're not about to suddenly grasp physics in two classes. As a result of this, the bulk of the midterm marks were either Cs or As: the science-phobic struggled, and those with some scientific knowledge cruised. All that said, when the course dealt with actual astronomy, it was consistently fascinating and well-taught. Recommended with reservations, but still recommended.
James Applegate was an uninspiring professor. He was a little quirky and made strange noises while pacing back and forth in front of the blackboards. He told odd jokes and tangential stories instead of teaching. What he did teach, he undermined by telling us that by the next semester we would learn that it was untrue. During class I copied notes off the board, and later I had to teach myself most of the concepts. The only thing I learned from this class was what I was taught in lab. In the three hour review session before the final, he retaught the entire class in its condensed form. I wondered why I had even bothered going to class at all, because he never took attendance anyway. On the other hand, it was a really easy A due to the enormous curve triggered by all the people who never came.
Professor Applegate is your typical college professor-- slightly nerdy with an oddball sense of humor that can be quite funny at times. He is genuinely interested in teaching the class (even though he acknowledges that most of us in there are humanities majors trying to fulfill our science requirement in the easiest way possible) and always willing to help. If you've taken physics in high school, this class shouldn't be too hard.
I have to agree with the other reviewer except for the workload. Class attendance is important because he discusses things that are not in the book but provides handouts that are helpful.
As a history major with a minor interest in science, this was the absolutely perfect way to fulfill the requirement. Professor Patterson was among the best instructors I've had at CU. He's funny and he made me like the subject a lot more than I thought I would. He also wears astonomically themed neckties, and invited students over to his house for a read through of Brecht's "Galileo." A lot on the history of Astronomy and not too much physics, thank god. Definitely worth taking.