Simpson wins MICS Programming Contest!

Students from Simpson College won the programming contest at MICS (Midwest Instructional Computing Symposium), held at UNI, April 22/23. MICS is a 2-day conference attended mostly by small Midwest colleges. The conference involves students presenting their research, a robotics contest, and a programming contest.

Simpson has been participating in MICS since 2010, and we’ve always done well. In the programming contest we’ve finished in the top 5 every year since 2011. We got 2nd in 2012. But we’ve never won before.

In the programming contest, teams of 3 students are given 8 problems to solve in 3 hours. The problems are very challenging. The winning team is the one that solves the most problems correctly. Teams solving the same number of problems are placed based on penalty points determined by how many incorrect attempts they made.

We took 12 students (4 teams) to MICS this year. The team of Nate Hayes, Christopher Hanson, and Will Roberts took first place, solving 7 out of the 8 problems! This is an outstanding achievement. One other team, from St Olaf’s, also solved 7, but had more penalty points.

The competition was very exciting. Our team was in 3rd place for a while, moved into 2nd with 30 minutes to go, and took the lead with only 12 minutes remaining. Our other teams finished 9th, 12th, and 36th. There were 59 teams in total.

Nate Hayes’s robot finished 3rd in the robotics contest, also very impressive, especially since this is only the 2nd time we have competed in the robotics contest.

More details about MICS 2016 here.

Pickpocketing: The Thing You Never See Coming

Coming from a small town one may not be accustomed to keeping a constant eye out for their personal belongings.  For instance I leave my keys in my car and during the day my family leaves our front door unlocked.  This is not a normal thing you would do in a bigger city especially Rosario.  So coming from a small town to a huge city this was a big change for me!  It took me a while to understand that you literally have to be on guard all the time!  I was doing really well when I first got here with keeping an eye on my things, but around the third week here I went to the bathroom in my university and left my backpack outside the bathroom stall.  The next thing I know is that I am trying to find my debit card in my wallet and it is nowhere to be found!  I ended having to call right away and cancel my card because I knew that in those couple of minutes that I had left my backpack unattended with my wallet in it, was when my debit card was stolen.

About a week later I was walking with a friend to go look around in a few stores on a busy street with my backpack on.  I had my phone in my backpack because it’s safer to do that than to carry it in your hand.  We were having a good time seeing all the new stores and looking around.  As I was walking home I stopped to put my water bottle in my backpack and noticed that my front backpack pocket was unzipped.  My heart fell into my stomach! I knew right away what had happened and had a mini breakdown in the middle of the sidewalk while my friend re-searched my bag to make sure I wasn’t overreacting for no reason.  I was not overreacting, my phone was long gone.  At that moment I had no idea what to do besides cry.  I have definitely learned my lesson on how to be more careful and not so trustworthy.

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So some tips from me to you when you are in a big city or a crowded area:

  • Keep your belongings on you! Don’t ever leave your bag unattended!
  • If you use a purse and make sure it’s in front of you at all times!
  • If you just have your backpack make sure your things are not easily accessible and I know this looks stupid but if you are in a crowed area wear your backpack on your chest not your back (I thought I would be able to feel someone going through my bag, but if you are distracted enough the lil’ shi** are good at their “job” and will steal it without you noticing).
  • If you’re a man keep your wallet in your front pant pocket
  • If you decide to go out at night take the minimum possible! Think, do I really need my phone tonight?
  • If you are going out ladies don’t keep all your money in one place. If you have a purse and it’s stolen it’s always good to make sure you have money somewhere else on you!
  • Just always be on high alert and watch out for the watchis (a person who pickpockets)!

Soccer: The True Love of Argentina

The majority of people know that Latin America is crazy for soccer and that this includes Argentina.  Before coming here I was excited to experience a culture in which their favorite sport is soccer since it is my favorite sport as well.  Before leaving the States, one of my host brothers messaged me over Facebook and told me he would take me to one of the games if I wanted to.  Of course there was no way I could say no.  The game was on a Friday night and the stadium is in a massive city park in Argentina.  My host brother took me to meet his friends and we got to the stadium just before kickoff.  We were in a section where there were no seats, so therefore you stood and sang the whole game.  Fans from the opposite team are not allowed in to avoid conflicts and the atmosphere is indescribable.  It is nothing like a game in the United States for any sport with the fans here all singing, waving massive flags, lighting flares, and shooting off roman candles from their hands the entire game.  Keep in mind the home team, Newell’s Old Boys, is one of the worst in the league, yet their fans do not seem to support them any less.

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As the game wore on, I felt like I was in a dream and could not believe what life had brought me to at this point.  The passion of the Argentine culture could be seen in this stadium and soccer was not just a game anymore.  If your favorite team lost, you would not get over it for days, and if they won, your team was going to be the champions by the end of the season.  It was a serious topic and everyone has their favorite team.  There are two major teams in Rosario, and both are historic.   Messi’s first team was Newell’s, while Rosario Central is currently first in their division.  This rivalry is unlike anything I have ever seen, and wearing the wrong shirt on the wrong day may lead to some unkind words being shouted in your direction on the street.  Overall, it is an incredible place to live if you enjoy soccer or any sport in general.  To see the passion the fans have and the dedication of the players is something that would amaze anybody.

“Because you can’t pass up California in January”: Senior Marissa Belau presents at professional psychology conference

Simpson Senior Marissa Belau recently had the chance to present her academic work at a professional psychology conference – twice!

Here is what Marissa had to say about her experience:

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At the end of January this year, I boarded a plane for California and said goodbye to Iowa’s winter weather. I wasn’t running from the snow and cold, however, I was running toward an opportunity that, thanks to the support of Simpson’s Departments of Psychology and Undergraduate Research, I had been lucky enough to be afforded – I was going to present research at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Conference in San Diego.

Earlier this fall, as I began finalizing preparations to wrap up my senior research project, I was approached by Dr. Sal Meyers of the Psychology department, who suggested that I submit an abstract for consideration to present my completed project at the SPSP Conference in January. Upon finding out my project had been accepted, I was ecstatic; no Simpson student had presented at this conference before, and being able to break into this level of academia as an undergraduate was a phenomenal opportunity. Additionally, I had been invited to not only present my own research project, but also a project another student and I had assisted Dr. Meyers with the semester before! I would be presenting twice in San Diego! MarissaBelau3

The original project I took to the SPSP Conference investigated gender-related workplace biases by examining college students’ evaluations of hypothetical male and female employers. I had hypothesized that (a) the same professional biography would lead to more favorable evaluations if attributed to a male than a female employer, and (b) perceived role congruency would mediate these effects. In other words, when students read a potential employer’s biography, they would rate it more favorably in terms of likeability, competence, overall leadership ability, etc. if they were told the potential employer was a man instead of a woman. My results showed that while females were more likely to report they would like to work for a male employer than were males, and that these participants preferred communal leadership qualities over agentic (while male participants showed no preference), in most cases, college students did not evaluate male potential employers more favorably than female potential employers.

The second project I helped present at the SPSP Conference was one I had worked on with Dr. Meyers and Tayler Peterson (’15) during our Psychology of Gender class in the spring of 2015. This project investigated the relationship between conforming to masculine and feminine norms and endorsing “hookup culture.” Our results indicated that norms of masculinity were positively related, and norms of femininity negatively related, to endorsing hookup culture. In other words, the more a person conformed to masculine norms and rejected feminine norms, the more likely he or she was to also endorse hookup culture.

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Participating in this conference was one of the best experiences I have had at Simpson. Not only was this an amazing opportunity for me to present research to a high-caliber audience, but it was also a chance to network with graduate students, professors, and other professionals in the field I hope to someday enter. Indeed, while participating in a conference session, I was able to speak with a woman who currently holds my dream job (psychological non-profit consultant), as well as the Director of the Center for Ethical Leadership in Australia about future internship and research possibilities. In addition to forging these connections, I was also able to observe a number of professional presentations and engage with others about complex research topics, both of which are skills I hope to continue to develop in graduate school.

Had it not been for the support of my advisor, Dr. Meyers, I would not have felt confident submitting my research to the SPSP conference. Had it not been for Simpson’s support of Undergraduate Research, I would not have been able to afford this opportunity. And had it not been for this experience, I doubt I would feel as prepared as I do today to continue my education this fall by pursuing a Masters of Applied Psychology from the University of Southern California.

Congratulations again and best of luck with your graduate studies, Marissa!

Weekend Getaway to Buenos Aires

It’s official! We have been in Argentina a little over a month now! Time is flying and each week seems to go by faster. Last weekend was our first trip together as an entire group. The whole Simpson crew traveled by bus to Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, and we had a fantastic time.

We stayed at a beautiful hotel located in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires. From the hotel there was an amazing view of La Recoleta Cemetery, which is one of the city’s largest tourist attractions. It is an incredible above ground cemetery that contains the graves of notable people from Argentina, including Eva Perón. Evá Perón was a well-loved actress and politician in Argentina. She served as first lady from 1946 to 1952 when she tragically died from cancer. If you care to catch up on your Argentine history, there is a musical version of her life on Netflix. You may recognize it by the song, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.”

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On our first night in the city we got all dressed up and headed to a tango show in Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires. Before the dancers came on stage, we had a fantastic three-course meal. Once the show started, we couldn’t take our eyes off the stage. The show and the dancers were mesmerizing. The tango originated in Argentina and has influences from European and African culture. The dance itself is very sensual and the audience can sense a strong connection between the dance partners. Attending a tango show in Buenos Aires is a must!

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After the show, we took a crash course in tango. The dancers came out and taught us the basic moves, and at the end of the lesson we all received certificates of achievement. But don’t expect any of us to be transferring to Juilliard any time soon.

The next morning, we took a tour of the city. Buenos Aires is huge! It is made up of several neighborhoods, including Recoleta, Puerto Madero and our favorite La Boca. La Boca is a really cool neighborhood with Italian influences. Caminito, the main street in La Boca is lined with beautiful buildings painted using a rainbow of colors. We also saw the Boca Juniors soccer stadium known as La Bombonera and visited La Casa Rosada, La Plaza de Mayo, Catedral Metropolitana and Floralis Genérica. The tour ended at La Recoleta Cemetery. It was a full day of sightseeing!

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We ended the weekend with a group dinner and a little Argentine nightlife adventure. We danced the night away in a boliche and returned to Rosario on Sunday afternoon. Now we are all still catching up on our Z’s after being in the city that never sleeps for the weekend.

Thank goodness Buenos Aires is only a 4-hour bus ride away because we would all like to visit again soon!

By: Rachel Hoffman & Mikayla Wilson

Parting Thoughts

As our semester is coming to a close, I’m starting to think about the most eventful parts of this trip. Everyday I add more to my mental list, and I’m realizing how much I want to stay in here. A few of the students in our group are counting down the days, but I can’t stand to think about going back home. Although there are a lot of things that I’m looking forward to when I return to Iowa—my friends and family; cheap American foodnot finding ants in my food, bed, or clothes; less humidity, etc.there are so many more reasons why I don’t want to leave Tahiti. 

Besides the jaw-dropping views of the ocean, mountains, and nature in general of French Polynesia, I think one of the things I’m going to miss most about being here is the people. Everyone at Le Foyer de Jeunes Filleshas been so friendly and positive every single day, always offering our group fresh food and asking how we’re doingStrangers that I’ve met with my host family have welcomed me into their houses, offering me everything you could think ofeven the food off their plates. I attended the birthday party of a new friend’s grandmother, and the entire house of guests went out of their way to serve me food andsit down and talk with meThe grandmother shared her philosophy with me, explaining that everyone was welcome in her home, even people off the street. Hospitality here is so unique from what I’ve noticed in the U.S., and it’s something that I honestly love about Tahitian culture. I’ve learned numerous life lessons here, but what I’m taking away from the people will remind me everyday of the effect you can have on someone you don’t know. 

It upsets me that I’ll eventually have to leave behind all the incredible people I’ve met in Tahiti, but I’m so grateful for the impact they’ve left on my life. I’ve already noticed changes in myself due to all I’ve learned from them and my experiences here. Making friends here has been difficult because of the language barrier, but it’s pushed me to be more outgoing and have a bit of confidence in my French. Little things, such as waiting over an hour for the bus, have improved my patience, and I’m much more open to being adventurous and trying new activities because I’ve seen how they can end up being the best experiences. Overall, Tahiti has shaped me in ways that I didn’t expect but definitely needed, and although going home will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, there are parts of this journey that will stay with me for the rest of my life. That being said, Mauruuruu/Merci/Thank you, Tahiti.

Part-time Head Men’s Golf Coach

Simpson College seeks a part-time head Men’s Golf for the 2016-17 season. The coach is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the program which must be designed to meet NCAA, IIAC, and Simpson College rules and regulations.  Responsibilities and duties include: recruiting and the planning and management of practice and meets.  Bachelor’s degree required, two years of coaching experience preferred.

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, their resume and contact information for three professional references to:  Director of Human Resources, Simpson College, 701 North C Street, Indianola, IA  50125, or by e-mail to employment@simpson.edu.  Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

To learn more about Simpson please visit www.simpson.edu It is the policy and practice of Simpson College to provide equal educational and employment opportunities for all. We specifically encourage applications from women, minorities, persons with disabilities and individuals who are bilingual (Spanish).   The entire Simpson College Notice of Non-Discrimination can be found at: http://simpson.edu/employment-opportunities/

Posting Date: 4/11/16

Part-time Men’s Golf Coach

Simpson College seeks a part-time head Men’s Golf for the 2016-17 season. The coach is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the program which must be designed to meet NCAA, IIAC, and Simpson College rules and regulations.  Responsibilities and duties include: recruiting and the planning and management of practice and meets.  Bachelor’s degree required, two years of coaching experience preferred.

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, their resume and contact information for three professional references to:  Director of Human Resources, Simpson College, 701 North C Street, Indianola, IA  50125, or by e-mail to employment@simpson.edu.  Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

To learn more about Simpson please visit www.simpson.edu It is the policy and practice of Simpson College to provide equal educational and employment opportunities for all. We specifically encourage applications from women, minorities, persons with disabilities and individuals who are bilingual (Spanish).   The entire Simpson College Notice of Non-Discrimination can be found at: http://simpson.edu/employment-opportunities/

Posting Date: 4/11/16

Students teach Boy Scouts about Robotics

On April 2nd and April 9th, Simpson students taught Boy Scouts how to build and program a Lego Mindstorms robot to run through an obstacle course.

The Simpson students were taking a class called “Project Management.” This class covered the ten areas of knowledge outlined by the Project Management Institute.

Part of this course requires students to apply what they learned in project management with an actual project. This year two teams from the class worked together. One team worked on the robot build, and the other team worked on the robot programming.

Below are photos from the event, and a video showing a robot running the course.

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Overcoming the Language Barrier

Before I came to Tahiti, I barely knew how to say 3 sentences in French.  I was not too worried about this because everyone was always saying that French was not really necessary here.  This caused me to not take my French courses at Simpson seriously enough because I did not expect to continue learning French after my time in Tahiti ended.  I regret my choices made at Simpson, but I feel like I have made up for my slacking here in Tahiti.

Beginning to study French at our language specific school was terrifying.  Our first class there, the professor introduced herself and explained some things in English, but five minutes later she was speaking French.  This was not the introductory class type of French speaking I had assumed it was going to be.  She talked to us like we knew the language fluently, and hardly ever stopped to explain anything in English.  I was very disheartened at first, but I stuck with it and put forth a good amount of effort.  Week after week I felt like I understood more and more, and with some extra work writing hundreds of words in my notebook, my vocabulary, pronunciation, and fluency improved tremendously.  After learning different tenses and a bunch more words, all I need to do now is practice more.

Practicing French here is difficult though.  Often times, once you say “Bonjour” to someone, they realize you are American by the way you sound or the way you look.  They immediately switch to English almost every time.  This makes it difficult to practice sometimes, but if you simply tell them you would like to practice French, they oblige.  Through speaking with people here in Tahiti, I learn new words and fix a lot of pronunciation issues I have.

French has become much more real after a few months here.  I find myself admiring the language and wanting to learn more of it.  I have now decided to pick up a French minor because the language is so fun, interesting, and challenging for me.  I am excited to show my professors how much I have learned, and I am ready to get back to Simpson’s French program!