professor
Laura Kay

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

Nov 2019

This class is easier to get an A in than any other science class I have taken in high school. Laura Kay is very pragmatic about what is going on in the course and never leaves you guessing about anything. She also drops the lowest quiz and homework grades. The midterm is extremely difficult but is graded on a massive curve. On our midterm, a 88/125 was an A. On quizzes you can bring in any notes you want including the text book, yet the average score on these quizzes is always pretty low. This is because about half of the class decides to pass fail and then checks out early, which just makes it easier to stay about the average. The average on quizzes is usually around a 14/25 and if you consistently get around 20/25 your overall quiz grade will be an A. On the midterm we were allowed to bring in one sheet of notes and people basically brought in the whole course on size 4 font. She didn't care, and actually encouraged this. The information is also very interesting and if you actually pay attention to the content of her lectures instead of checking out (checking out is fine and won't affect your grade negatively) you will probably be entertained.

Dec 2017

This class is meant for humanities majors who need to fulfill their science/math/maybe lab requirements. Laura Kay is very aware of that and tries to structure her class with that in mind. The class is difficult and most people end up P/F/D ing it. If you haven't taken physics or calculus, it will be difficult. Just stay on top of the notes and you should be fine.

May 2014

Professor Kay is a pretty good teacher. I mean, she's not exactly overly enthusiastic, and it's not like I looked forward to going to lectures every week. Most concepts were pretty self explanatory and plenty of people took this class and just turned in problem sets, sat for quizzes and exams. Which is fine and she knows this. I always sat in the front but it's something to look at how few people show up most days. I think the day before Spring Break, it was something like 30 people showed up (over 100 are registered for the class). Which is fine, I don't judge. If you're looking for that kind of class, definitely take this one. That being said, if you do show up for lecture, I don't think you'll regret it. She DOES post PowerPoints online but she uses much more detailed ones in class. She usually shows cute space clips in class, too, though their usefulness varies. If you have to skip a lecture, I wouldn't sweat it (I did) though I felt that lectures helped me digest information better and made the book unnecessary. She only makes casual reference to the book, and I only used it a few times. As for math, this class is pretty much plug and chug or really simple algebra problems. You may have to do some unit conversion (like parsecs to light years, or days to years) but it's literally nothing to worry about if you took FroSci or even high school chemistry. As long as you know what each formula needs you can get the problems done. There are also ratios, though they are much more common in Life in the Universe than Cosmology. Rest of the class is concepts that you can simply memorize. Nothing too difficult and she lets you use a notes sheet for the exams, and all quizzes are open note. Quizzes and exams were something else, though. Often questions were vague as to what they wanted. I remember one particular quiz. I incredibly messed up a relativity question, which I got almost full points on. The next question was a very simple one which I got literally no credit for because I did not mention very specific things (which were not at all indicated in the very open ended question). She always tells us to ask if a question needs calculation -- but the doubt usually comes from how much detail (or what details) she wants. Odds are you'll do fine -- most of them are decently written. But odds are you WILL kick yourself over not including a detail you knew. Since the class is mostly Barnard students P/F the course, the curve is generous. Average is about a 65%, curved up to a B/B+. If you have any aptitude for math, then you'll likely do really well without much effort. This class was not remarkable by any means of the word. That does not mean it was terrible, however. She is a nice person: she makes some witty comments once in a while, brings by candy for exams and little aliens for quizzes. She even once gave out a United Airlines club pass (whatever they're called). That being said, her lecture style is pretty bland. Not great but not terrible. If you have any interest in astronomy, 1753-4 are great classes to take. It's really just a standard lecture course that you'd find in any college, which is really all we can ask for.

May 2014

Professor Kay does not a good professor. She is not enthusiastic in class, is a boring lecturer, does not explain concepts well, creates bad exams (she is not clear in her questions what she wants the answer to be), and does not accommodate students with disabilities well (for quizzes, if they are unable to come to class early to get their extra time, she has them sit in the hallway and miss part of the lecture to finish the quiz). This being said, Stars, Galaxies and Cosmology is a very easy class to pass. She drops the lowest homework and quiz grade, the quizzes are open notes, and you get one page of notes for the midterm, and two pages for the final. She also offers an extra credit assignment (paper 3-4 pages long about an exhibit at the Natural History Museum or a book on astronomy). And, because so many people take this class to fulfill the quantitative reasoning or lab science requirement, and are just looking for a pass, the curve is HUGE. She also posts the power points from class online beforehand, so you only need to take notes on any extra or clarifying information she says in class (but she does not always post them ahead of time, and not all the information from the in-class powerpoint is the a same as the one on courseworks). But if you're actually looking to understand the concepts, you need to put in a lot of extra work on your own, go to office hours, and I would recommend taking the lab. If I had not been in lab for this class, I would not have understood many of the concepts as well as I did. Also, a physics or math background (which I have) is extremely helpful, as she does not go over how to use the equations in class. If you want a sample math problem done out, you need to go to office hours.

Nov 2013

Are you a SEAS junior or senior with some time on your hands and want 2 easy A's (possibly A+'s) to boost your GPA? Are you interested in Astro? Then these classes are the classes for you- minimum amount of work for maximum grade return. Here's some back story- I found myself starting 2nd semester junior year just having gotten the lowest GPA I had ever had. I had literally hit rock bottom. I needed some A's to neutralize the bad grades I got and my major courses weren't helping, so I decided to take this class and what a great decision it was. Yes, they fulfill literally no requirement, but they also factor into your GPA, and 6 credits of A isn't insignificant. As a SEAS junior or senior in an intro Barnard science class, let's just say it couldn't possibly get more stacked. I literally never went to class except for exams and to hand in homework. Just printing and reading the powerpoints posted online for maybe 10-15 minutes a week is more than enough to learn all the material in this class. The homework is so easy that it becomes almost enjoyable to do them. As a SEAS junior, I'm used to looking at a pset and thinking, Crap, I have no idea how to do this. As a result, just being able to understand all the work at first glance makes me feel accomplished since I'm so used to getting completely pwned by work. Quizzes are also easy as pie. Never study for them- just print the powerpoints and use them in the open book quiz. The questions are real straightforward, just plug and chug. I found myself consistently the first to finish. Midterms and the final, while not open book, are similarly easy and require a minimum of studying. Heck, you even get something you will never ever hear about in a SEAS course- extra credit. In the spring it was a book report- something I hadn't seen since elementary school. Just a few examples of how easy the course is- the textbook (which is online by the way), literally teaches you ROYGBIV. And in the powerpoints, Kay actually reassures you that there isn't much math and to not panic when logarithms are introduced, as if those would make someone bat an eye, much less drop the class (oh wait...) In the end, I aced nearly everything and got an easy 6 credits of A with almost no work at all. And to boot, I also got an awesome boost in self esteem and confidence from being easily at the top of the class- something that hasn't happened since high school.

Nov 2013

I want to rush in and defend Prof. Kay - this class can be work-heavy and does have traces of math that are not fun for the non-mathematically inclined, but Prof. Kay does care about the material; she is not some dull-eyed expert reading off of her power points. She sometimes goes too fast for me, but overall the content feels relevant and interesting. I am rarely bored. I suppose the grading curve can be annoying, but she encourages people who are uncertain about whether to P/F to take a moment and check in with her: she will let you know where you stand and there are no hard feelings either way. Most classes, in addition to content on orbits or elemental composition or global warming, include a short sci-fi movie clip which highlights cultural misconceptions or where movies get the science wrong. Again, she wants us to be curious about the material. If you are looking for a simple P/F class with less work, the Columbia version of this class, Earth, Moons, and Stars (or something like that), has a midterm and final and none of the quizzes or home-works that force one to pay closer attention throughout the semester.

Jun 2013

Do not take this class. If you’re anything like me, you’re a non –math or -science major looking for the path of least resistance to fulfilling your science requirements. This is not that path. To be fair, this class is some of the things you’re looking for: absolutely no attendance is required save the midterm, final, and quiz days, nor would it benefit you – of all the bored people with glazed eyes that fill the lecture hall, Professor Kay is by far the most bored of all, her eyes glazier than any. Kay stands up front, reads her Power Points verbatim, and then posts them at the end of class for everyone to download – I can genuinely say I sat through not one full lecture. And it wasn’t for want of trying; each month I’d recommit to attending class and being participatory, and each time that I tried I fled the lecture near the halfway point, re-outraged and re-in-disbelief that all the professor does is quite literally stand at the front of the room and read her bloody slides. Frankly, I am qualified to teach this course. And please don’t misunderstand me: it’s not like I wasn’t interested, and I’m not allergic to science or anything. Rather, the class is structured in such a way as to wholly eradicate anyone’s interest in the cosmos; it’s an inferno for even the slightest hint of interest or passion you might casually harbor for the subject of stars and the like. The six homework assignments and five quizzes ensure that something is due every week, and the vast majority of the work is math based. The math is by no means difficult, but the concepts necessary to understand the correct application of the given formulas is also never taught, making the process of figuring out what to do with which pieces of information a real bitch. What’s worse, the grading system is really just one big fat curve that doesn’t get applied till after the final, so basically you spend the entire semester getting 16/25 on this quiz and 14/20 on that homework, and stressing frantically about how this stupid class is going to ruin your GPA and wondering whether or not you should cover it up and if it’s even too late to do that, and then, lo and behold, two and half weeks after the semester ends SSOL tells you *Your grade has recently been submitted here* and you click the hyperlinked ‘here’ and there’s a decent grade sitting in the box next to Stars, Galaxies, and the Cosmos. Please don’t get me wrong – I’m not an embittered student seething about a poor grade, or an angry Gender Studies major vexed I had to sit through a class where someone made us use the ‘Cos’ button on a calculator. I got an A, and I was very interested in the material going in. That being said, I spent the entire semester under the pretty-understandable delusion that I was getting a C, I resented every single homework assignment that asked us to apply formulas to complicated concepts that were absolutely never discussed in class, and I reviled the quizzes that seemed a deliberate attempt to conceal what form the answer should be in – often times I would get 7 points off a 20 point quiz for giving a numerical answer when a verbal one was required, and I was far from the only one. Ultimately, I went through the entire semester feeling ignorant of and combative with the material, and the fact that I ended up on the good side of the curve only deepens the farce, indicating how poorly everyone else must have done. In a word, I can only say that this class seems wholly and perfectly designed to suffocate any interest you may have in astronomy, and to demoralize and discourage those of us silly enough to hope we might enjoy an introductory course in a subject unrelated to our major.

Jan 2012

If you are looking *only* to PDF the course, fullfill your QUA or Lab science as painlessly as possible, and you're weak in math or science, don't waste your time on squeezing into psych lotteries or the intro environmental science course. While I was initially wary about the math, and while the problem sets aren't necessarily easy, they are fairly straightforward and the math portion of this non-majors course is kept to a minimum -- no more than 30%, I'd say, and the rest is more essay-based (knowing the phases of the moon, climate changes, planets, etc). This is definitely an easily manageable course as long as you read the notes, which Professor Key posts on CourseWorks. She also drops the lowest quiz and offers an extra credit opportunity. However, I was also pleasantly surprised by how fascinating this class is -- a class I would never ever have taken otherwise. I actually started to pay attention to moon phases and the appearances of certain stars and plants. Professor Kay brings in documentaries, history, old space movies, and current events into the lectures and her personal stories are pretty interesting as well. So go for it!

Dec 2011

Life in the Universe was not my easiest or hardest class, but I would recommend it to anyone. It's kind of like watching NOVA videos except it's a class. The material is cool, and you will learn about navigating with the moon and stars, global warming, the hugeness of the universe, why earth is habitable, the psychology behind UFO abductions, and much more. I really didn't enjoy the first part of the semester which focused on basic astronomy, but I grew to love the class. You don't have to show up for class, but I think it helps. You don't have to buy the textbook, but it helps with the homework. Some people really hated this class, but I thought it was a great way to get the science requirement done. Laura Kay is a great professor. She's funny, sarcastic, and seems genuinely interested in what she teaches.

Nov 2011

I disagree with the review below. (Not to mention it was written far too early in the semester) Yes, the homework takes a few hours to complete but she assigns the homework at least a week, usually more, in advance so there is plenty of time; the homework is also easy and very doable; just look at the powerpoint notes she posts online. The first assignment proved difficult and the math was tough to but you can get through it; if not, she has office hours twice a week and holds a little class in which she basically reviews all the homework and essentially gives you the answers for the work. She really wants her students to understand the material. The final and quizzes are problems taken directly from the homework, which the answers for are directly on her powerpoints. The class is not without effort but it's more than doable. The class is graded on a huge curve, which is also very nice.

Sep 2011

I and every person I know who have taken this class have dreaded it. If you are trying to fulfill the science requirement easily, this is NOT the way to go. Laura Kay is an incredibly woman who is sweet and funny and does make an effort to amuse you in class. Despite her efforts, I usually find myself sleeping... The homework sets ALWAYS take a good couple of hours and are not always covered by the class material specifically. If you work hard, you can get a good grade. But do NOT be fooled!!!! This class is not for the light hearted!

May 2011

Are you an art or humanities major? Do you need to fulfill your science requirement? Didn't get into a psych lab? Don't like the idea of environmental science? Like stars? Maybe this class is for you! Yay! This class was fine. I wish I could give a rave review or brutal critique, but it was just so blah. Professor Kay has a genuine interest in the subject, is clear and organized, and occasionally makes some funny (if incredibly geeky) comments, but somehow, none of that helped. I think the class lacked energy because so many of us were there to fulfill a science requirement, and Professor Kay knew it. And she was very open about it. I have never had a professor tell me it was OK that I was pass/failing her course, or that getting a C was enough. It's upsetting to me that she didn't care. If she had come into the room with the goal of convincing us that we should be astronomy majors, I feel like the class would have had been much more engaging. On the other hand, she knows who her audience is (English, Film, Theatre, Art History, Philosophy, and Architecture majors), and teaches accordingly - lots of pretty pictures. One lecture had absolutely no math, but tons of political issues and whatnot. About half the class only showed up for the midterm, quizzes, and to turn in homework. Professor Kay puts all the PowerPoints online, and if you purchase the textbook, you're set for the all of the homeworks. Somewhere around spring break she started showing a lot of videos every class, mostly melodramatic documentaries/interviews with astronomers with Morgan Freeman narrating. Oh, last but not least: On the first day of class, she ok'd food and drinks, but banned laptops. By the end of the semester, there were usually about 3-5 people on laptops in every class. Just something to note.

May 2011

Prof. Kay is great; she's pretty funny, brings in toys during quizzes, and shows a lot of movies. She posts the powerpoints on CourseWorks so you can easily get away with missing a class, but I found myself hardly every wanting to skip her class. Life in the Universe is particularly interesting towards the end of the semester, when she covers alien abductions and UFO sightings. Stars, Galaxies, and Cosmology isn't too hard and it covers some of the same material as Life in the Universe so some of it is just review.

Apr 2011

I took this class for my science requirement and got an A+. Seriously, THE MOST GENEROUS CURVE and grading system ever — and on top of that it's not a painful class and can actually be fun. I would highly recommend it to any humanities major looking to fulfill their science requirement! If you're completely, totally, 100% "math-phobic," as Professor Kay calls it, then be aware that there is some math involved in Life in the Universe, though it is usually just remembering which equation to use when, and then plugging and chugging. However, the way Professor Kay structures the class makes it very easy to do very well: - Four quizzes, ALL OF WHICH ARE OPEN-NOTE. If you take decent notes in class and print the lecture slides, you will be good to go on these. Oftentimes on the quiz there was the exact same problem she used as an example in class, just with the numbers changed. Very simple. And she drops the one with the lowest grade. - Six problem sets, mostly very manageable. The math questions were just using equations she gave us in class, and the written-response ones I just googled. Again, she drops the lowest. - The midterm is quite reasonable and you are allowed a page of notes. The final is also reasonable and you are allowed two pages of notes. For both of these she gives a review sheet beforehand — if you just study all the topics on it and base your note sheet around it, you will be good to go. - She offers an extra-credit paper where you just go to the Museum of Natural History and visit the Hall of Meteors and write about it. The Museum of Natural History is awesome anyway so for me it was just an excuse to go! Being motivated to come to class and take notes isn't hard because Laura Kay is a pretty good lecturer and sticks little anecdotes and jokes in. You also watch a lot of movies. And at the end of the semester you learn about people who want to colonize the moon and people who claim to have been abducted by aliens. And then there are questions about them. On the final. Best. Class. Ever. TAKE IT.

Dec 2010

I took this course to fulfill my science requirement, and kindof dreaded it since I'm not a science person. As much as I tried to hate it, I actually ended up enjoying the class in the end. You don't just do astronomy, but cover bio, chem, environmental science, and psychology as well, so it's more of a general science course, even though it's all related to astronomy - like for envi we talk about global warming on Venus, and for psych we talk about alien abduction stories. Laura Kay is interesting and adds quirky little facts into her powerpoint lectures. There's a textbook for the class, but she covers the material well in lecture, and I only ended up using the book to look up factual information that I could have found on the internet. It's not super easy, but it's one of those classes where you know what you have to do to get a good grade. Also, if you're worried about the math - Professor Kay basically assumes that everyone does not understand the math. She explains everything briefly in class, and is more than happy to explain further in office hours. I didn't take any high school physics and did well in the class. Also, this class could probably be renamed "Astronomy through Film," - you watch movies literally every other class. Which is awesome. Overall, it was a really good course, and I would definitely recommend it.

Sep 2007

Take her class. It's the easiest class for a science or math requirement. She posts all her lectures. We watch movies. The quizes and tests were slightly harder than i expected but there was always a great curve. I must agree her personality is confusing, very nice in class, but when I tried to go to office hours for help two different times she seemed annoyed. So ask questions in class she's more helpful then. She doesn't go over the math enough in my opinion, she kind of assumes we get it a little faster than we do. Overall take the class it's not bad and almost always interesting.

Aug 2007

I love Laura Kay! She's funny, interesting, and takes her class seriously, even when most of the other students don't. Her power points were useful, especially to bring to the quizzes or to fill out the "cheat sheet" for the final. I wish I had taken my first semester with her instead of Patterson, but thankfully I had enough sense to switch over spring semester. Stop debating and DO IT!

May 2007

She would post all her notes online, and in her class she would just go through them. Some classes were super-interesting and some very super-boring. The problem sets are easy beyond imagination, but her tests are amibigious and too general.

Apr 2005

If you expect a science class at Columbia or Barnard to be easy, you're in for a surprise. This class is not easy. But it's not orgo. She covers a lot of material but all of her lectures are on powerpoint. It really is up to you whether or not to go. I suggest that you go simply because she is a funny funny teacher and she's a good teacher. Even if you aren't particularly interested in the evolution of the earth and the solar system, the lectures do become interesting. If you aren't amazed at the fact that you are essentially composed of spewed out matter of exploded stars, then maybe you should take bio instead if you need to fulfill a requirement. Take it this way, I thought I was completely incompetent in science and I came out of that class wishing I had more of a scientific and mathematical background. There are five problem sets and five quizzes. Quizzes are open notes but sometimes that doesn't matter because quizzes are a reflection of what you learned from the homeworks anyway, which she reviews in class. *hint hint* lowest quiz score and hw score are dropped and there is an extra credit assignment if you want to pick up your grade. Do you need to read the book? Not really, she gives thorough notes although you can get some bonus points for adding in more detail in your exams, some which are open-ended explanatory questions.

Apr 2005

Don't take this class!!!! Prof. Kay's lectures, exams, and quizzes are unrelated to the textbook. The problems on the quizzes don't really test your knowledge of what is taught at her lectures. Her lectures are interesting enough, but do not help when it comes time to prove your knowledge on her exams. There is a curve on the exams as well as extra credit, but overall they don't help much. This course was much harder than it ought to have been. Also, towards the end of the semester we spent more time listening to guest speakers and watching films about misc. things. The films were interesting enough, but the setting of the lecture hall puts you to sleep. If you need to fulfill the science requirement with an easy science course, take Earth, Moon, and Planets instead of this class.

Jan 2005

I took this class to fulfill my science req, and because i was genuinely very interested in the subject matter. While Kay is a nice person, her lectures were very dull and dumbed-down. We learned generalities, and then were shown random formulas. While the overwhelming majority of the material taught was conceptual, we were rarely if ever tested on it. The tests and problem sets consisted entirely of number-crunching math problems based on the formulas. However, I found this approach highly frustrating because many problems were not of the intuitive, straightforward, "plug and chug" variety, and thus extremely difficult to do because they had never been explained or introduced in class (or in the textbok for that matter, which contains no math) Frankly, i felt like the lectures, the textbooks, and the problem sets and quizzes dealt with 3 completely different and unrelated areas. Professor Kay is also just a *little* obssessed with aliens, and while learning what factors might make a planet habitable is very interesting, having questions such as "If aliens landed on the white house lawn on inauguration day, what would happen" is useless and pretty lame. (though i must say....that question did garantee a large giveaway of points on the final). Fortunately, the curve is generous, and though i basically stopped going to class (they were pointless, and both stupid and stupifying) after the midterm in october, i ended up doing very well.

Dec 2004

I signed up for this class expecting it to be very easy with little work. Though there is not much work if you do it along the way, there are graded homework sets and quizzes throughout the semester. They are pretty hard but although I thought that I was struggling throughout the course and semsester, I actually ended up with a good grade. So if you do a good job on the homeworks and study hard for the mid term and final, with the curve even if you do not do a lot of work, you can do well. The classes are not that interesting but Profesor Kay is really nice. She posts her lecture notes in advance so you can print them out and follow along during class. A lot of people never show up to class but wind up with a good grade.

Dec 2004

Professor Kay is really a very dedicated teacher. The class isn't too easy, but isn't super hard either. The homework sets are rather long and are a bit harshly graded by the TAs, but the quizzes are fair and are graded by her, and she is significantly nicer a grader than the TAs. The exams are a bit tricky though. It was an interesting class for sure.

May 2004

Professor Kay is a very kind woman who is very dedicated to astronomy. The class was interesting because there were a few dorks who would shout out stupid things which they assumed would be funny, but nevertheless, the overall class experience wasn't bad. The quizzes weren't too easy but they weren't hard. The homework sets are very long though. The midterm was easy but the final was harder. Not a bad way at all to fill the science requirement.

Jan 2004

This is a really decent class; consider it the "intro for humanities students" version of intro astro. I went into this class to satisfy my sci req., but found that the subject really grabbed me, and now hope to pursue some more astro classes. Prof. Kay is great. She is bright and laid-back, and really enjoys teaching the subject matter. She's really into sci-fi stuff so plan to watch some hilarious old sci-fi movie clips, and find tabloids and cartoons on her class website. Attendance, except for quizzes and exams of course, is not really necessary. Her lectures are posted on Courseworks, so you can just look at those or print them out ahead of time so you don't have to write anything during class. That said, you'll probably want to go anyways just to go, but dont feel bad if you miss a week or two. All in all, take this class. It's fairly painless, interesting, and a solid introduction to astro. (there's a big curve gradewise, too). In terms of prep., need basic high school algebra, and it helps to have exposure to high school chem and physics. A few notes: 1. You can def take this class out of sequence, (ie II before I), and in fact, I'd recommend it because once you've got II done, I is a breeze. 2. Nobody really knows whether to take Patterson's class or Kay's; I've heard people say conflicting things-- they are pretty equivalent though in terms of being intro for non-science people. Main difference is that Patterson's semester 1 is Earth, Moon, Planets, while Kay's is Life in the Universe. Second semester classes are parallel. 3. Lab (if you take it) is more in-depth/difficult than lecture and doesnt parallel the lecture, but its decent, too. 4. Labs are fine if you have to take them; there is no outside work, and there are no real graded assignments-- mostly its participation. That said, participation is key-- this is sometimes tough since all labs meet at night so youll be tired-- they meet at night so can use telescopes on the roof.

Jan 2004

I love Professor Kay. She is terribly sarcastic and amazingly intelligent. Her lectures are clear, to the point, and funny. They can be boring occasionally, but they're powerpoint so that's to be expected. She posts all of her lectures online, and will even copy her notes for you if you miss class. The subject matter is interesting, and if you're ever confused or just want to talk about something, go to her office hours. She's a bit hard to get to know at first, but then becomes very friendly. She's also led an amazing life--if you're ever curious, ask her about her time in Antartica, or her pilot's license, her EMT certification, and when she was so close to being an astronaut. The class itself is much more focused on theory and ideas than math or physics. If you're interested in more math-oriented astronomy, take one of the Columbia classes, because her math is pretty basic and she gives you all of the equations.

Jan 2004

This was one of the most interesting classes I've taken. Professor Kay is a great lecturer. I'm not a "science person," but the class was easy to follow and she explained the concepts very well. The math that's required can be challenging, but it's definitely manageable. Prof. Kay uses power point for the lectures, which makes it easy to take notes. Since she posts the lecture on Courseworks the day before class, you can print it out and add your own notes as necessary. The reading from the text book is helpful for the midterm and final, but since much of it is covered in the lecture, it's probably possible to skim some parts. The course is graded on a curve, and she's a fair to lenient grader. If you attend the lectures, keep your notes in order, and do most of the reading, you'll be fine. (The lab course seemed more confusing, however, so I only took the lecture class.)

Jan 2004

She is GREAT! That's all I want to say. Take this class with her if you are interested in Astronmy or just want to satisfy your SCI requirement. GREAT CLASS!

Jun 2003

The biggest complaint I have is that she had an extremely arrogant attitude when I asked for help during the one time I went to her office hours. Thereafter, I got my astronomy/physics friends to help me out as a first option. She did turn out to be much more helpful via email so since I prefer email communication anyway, it worked out fine. She always replied promptly and even as late as 11PM. She definitely was available which is a huge plus in my book and that pretty much negates the rudeness factor. I did have some sporadic interesting conversations with her right after classes, but in my experience, she was fickle in friendliness when it came to talking to her in person. I most definitely recommend taking her classes, though, because her teaching method is excellent. She makes everything sound simple and easy (and she gives a high curve if you're worried about your GPA), she puts all the powerpoint presentations on her website, and the textbook was interesting and readable, not "academic". Just don't get upset if she's rude to you in person. A professor that teaches well, grades absolutely fairly, and does instant emails is worth any in-person rudeness.

May 2003

This class is really an enormously frustrating struggle if you're not skilled at math. The general concepts aren't too hard to grasp and demonstrate on exams, but the math is where it gets tricky - and there's a lot of it. Professor Kay really doesn't explain any of the math problems that you'll have to do on homeworks, quizzes, and exams, so you'll have to be able to pick it up yourself. Don't depend on being able to ask her questions either, she tended to be very cold and unhelpful in her office hours. But, even the math-a-phobics manage to survive - there's a big curve and an easy extra credit paper.

Apr 2003

Kay is a really sweet, really approachable professor. She likes her students, and she loves astronomy, and she talks about her cats. You totally don't have to do the readings because no one else ever does them either, discussions are a joke, and at least half of our lecture time was devoted to movie watching. Kay is a really easy going professor, and if you ever really want to talk to her about the subject she loves hearing it. Unfortunately, she can easily become a pushover and a lot of students find that she's a joke and don't bother doing the work. But you should, because if you don't you'll feel guilty--she's really, awfully nice.

Dec 2002

Despite the below, this was pretty much a joke class, and an alltogether easy way to get through the science requirement. If you took any physics in high school, along with some small amount of chemistry, you'll have no problem with the annoying little problem sets and quizes. I have no complaints about her teaching style or lessons, she's pretty on the ball and open to student input when scheduling tests and other due dates. All and all, go for it.

Dec 2002

This was a very interesting class, and Professor Kay is a good professor. But, don't take this class becuase you think it's an easy way out of the science requirement...it's not. This is by no means a joke class and there's a significant amount of work. But, the material is genuinely interesting, the professor good, and the curve even better. I definitely reccomend the class.

Jan 2000

Easy class. Six homeworks, five open note quizzes based mostly on the homework with the answers to the homework in front of you. She's very nice and helpful during class, but can be a bit rude if you ask her a question one-on-one.

Jan 2000

She is very passionate about her subject. Classes are interesting, and if you pick up on most of what she says, you'll have an easier time on her quizzes. She is also willing to help students outside of class and is very flexible if you miss class due to holidays, etc. In fact, if you ask, she'll photocopy her notes for you.