Combining Art & Technology

From Zachary Hardin, who did a directed study for 2016 May Term:

For this year’s May term, I had the wonderful opportunity of taking CIS-160: Intro to 3D Graphics. This class was amazing! I’ve learned so many different aspects about art and how it can be applied in a three dimensional form. I highly recommend it to all students who have a deep appreciation for art and technology. Unlike most art forms such as painting or hand-drawings, 3D graphics combines art and technology; it takes the best from both fields, and allows artists to explore a whole new world.

For my final project, I decided to create a pool table. My goal was to make it look as realistic as possible. It wouldn’t be easy, but I was up for the challenge, so I started right away. I used Cycles Rendered because it offers more advanced texturing, and it would allow me to achieve the desired look. Cycles Rendered allowed me to use and create realistic looking materials and apply them to the mesh objects. I also applied physics to the pool table and the billiard balls so that they could collide with each other. Capturing the realistic physics of the collisions was definitely a challenge, but it worked out in the end.

When it came to creating a scene and a theme, I wanted the pool table to be the main focus. I could’ve created an entire room to place the table in; it would’ve looked awesome, but I didn’t want the viewer to be distracted. My favorite motto is “more is less; less is more.” It’s the motto that I live by, and it essentially means that more isn’t necessarily better… so I decided to do less and it worked out really well. I created a floor for the table; placed some light fixtures above to illuminate the scene, and this helped display the pool table very nicely. As a result, this decision helped me create a calm and peaceful mood that keeps the viewers’ attention.

In the end, I am proud of this accomplishment. I spent a lot of time working on it, and if I had had more time, I would have liked to experiment with more textures and effects. I’m looking forward to continuing my education in 3D graphics outside of school. The possibilities with 3D graphics is endless and I can’t wait to see what I do. I hope you enjoy my very short video and thanks for reading. Cheers!

Six Simpson students present posters at the Midwestern Psychological Association (MSA) Conference

In early May, six Simpson students presented posters at the Midwestern Psychological Association (MSA) Conference in Chicago, led by Psychology Professor Sal Meyers.

Three of the students – Matt Stewart, Nicole Pridemore, and Cheyanne Godwin – had this to say about their experience there:

Matt Stewart: For the 5th and 6th of May, six of us presented our research at the Midwestern Psychological Association Regional Conference in Chicago. My particular research was on coaching style in athletics, and how that influenced concussion symptom reporting in student athletes at Simpson. I also examined the influence of concussion knowledge on symptom reporting. At this conference, I had the opportunity to converse with people from all across the Midwest about my research, as well as learn about the research others are doing. For example, I learned about how athletes respond to injury, and good coping techniques athletes should use during rehabilitation to maintain well-being and a positive outlook on life. This experience not only benefitted me professionally, but it was genuinely fun. Those who approached me to discuss my poster provided good feedback, and challenged me with additional questions. I made new friends, and surprisingly ran into some old ones. Finally, I got to experience a wonderful city and major civilization, the likes of which are not seen in Iowa. More Simpson students should consider attending this conference for the aforementioned benefits and experiences. It would serve to strengthen the reputation of Simpson, locally, regionally, and nationally.

Nicole Pridemore: Our research looked at the perception of instructor feedback on students who have fixed mindsets. In other words, these students do not believe they can improve on tasks like writing or revising papers, and we wanted to know how positive or negative feedback from instructors would further impact their motivation to write or revise their papers. Getting to present this research in such an elite environment was a new experience. We had the opportunity to learn about other research from undergrads like ourselves and the research of invited speakers and other professors. I loved having the chance to explain our research to those who were curious and even had further knowledge in the fields we were researching. They were able to add onto our own research with their knowledge and gave us pointers on how we could expand our research even further in the future. I think it’s fair to say everyone with a psychology major should look into submitting their own proposals to attend MPA. There is no experience that is more motivating than getting to share your research with other curious minds and getting the chance to interact with people who have shared interests in your field. It’s one thing getting to present your research, but it’s an entirely new experience getting to present your research to those who are actually curious and want to know more about your own findings.

Cheyanne Godwin: Attending MPA 2016 was a wonderful experience. Not only was I able to present my research project during the poster session, I was also able to collaborate with other attendees and get ideas for how to improve my project and I was able to listen to talks about research projects I had no idea were going on over topics I had never even considered. I presented a poster over my project investigating predictors of procrastination. Presenting this was a great experience. MPA gave me the opportunity to gain experience talking in front of people, allowed me to inform others of what I found, and to gain input on what I could do to improve my research or presentation. Listening to the talks was also extremely informative. One talk that sticks out was a presentation on memory, specifically eyewitness testimonies and what increases or decreases people’s perception of the believability of eyewitness testimonies. The findings suggest that if a witness says “I’m pretty certain” people are likely to believe them, however if witnesses qualify this statement with why they are certain by saying something such as “I recognize him” or “his chin is familiar” then people are less likely to believe the witness. The believability of witnesses also decreases when the witness and subject are not of the same race.

Congratulations to all those who presented and a big thank you to Professor Meyers for encouraging students to participate in these professional activities!

Spanish is a bit different in Argentina….

By Brooke Westphalen and Tania Perez

Now that we are half way through our semester in Rosario, we have gotten used to the Argentine dialect. The Spanish spoken in Argentina has many differences from the Spanish we use and learn in the United States. The Argentine dialect was influenced by Italians and Spaniards, the biggest groups of immigrants to Argentina.

One of the biggest differences we have had to learn has been the voseo tense. Instead of using the second person pronoun tù, Argentines use vos and do not have a stem change. For example instead of conjugating the word poder (to be able to) as tù puedes, it is vos podes.

A clear Italian influence is the pronunciation of double ll’s and y’s. For example instead of pronouncing me llamo with a y sound, it is pronounced as me SHamo in Argentina.

The following are only a few of many examples of differences in the vocabulary between the Spanish we use and learn in the United States and the Spanish in Argentina.

Choclo- maize (corn)
Fruitilla- fresa (strawberry)
Nene- bebe (baby)
Boludo- idiota (idiot)
Zapping- changing the channel
Che- hola amigo (hey pal)

We have enjoyed the past couple of months learning this unique dialect and being immersed in the culture. We are looking forward to learning more about the country, culture, and dialect in our final weeks here in Argentina.

A week in the life of a wannabe Argentine

couple tango in shopping areaBy: Amanda Evens and Olivia Anderson

So we’ve been here in Rosario for about 2 months now. Living in another country is definitely a shock, but we have gotten the hang of things now and time is just flying by! Some people may think that people who study abroad don’t actually study and pretty much just spend their time exploring, traveling to other countries, and trying new food. We can’t really deny the fact that we’re having fun, but, Mom, Dad, and President Simmons, I promise we’re still studying down here!!

Monday through Friday we have classes at our university UCEL. Most of them start at 8:30 am, which I promise you are no easier to get to than an 8:00 am class at Simpson. The biggest adjustment with classes has been how long they are. Our grammar classes are 2 hours long, the history class is 3 hours and 45 minutes long, and the oral and written communication class is 3 hours long. Luckily we usually only have 2 classes a day, but sitting through a grammar class at 8:30 in the morning for 2 hours was definitely an adjustment!

Since our classes start so early, they also end in the early afternoon, which means that we have the rest of the afternoon to ourselves. After we first arrived, we obviously went to all of the must see sites like the National Flag Monument and drank mate near the Riverwalk. When the weather was really hot we went to the beach or to the park to soak up the sun, but now that things are starting to cool down, we’ve visited museums and explored many of the boutiques Rosario has to offer. There are also cool events going on in Rosario that we’ve been to like the Saint Patty’s Day festival, a tango class, and a Food Truck festival. Even though we are in a different country, we are still college students who enjoy a good nap and the occasional Netflix movie.Rosario Riverwalk

Evenings usually consist of finishing up homework for the next day and dinner time. Saying dinner is in the evening might be a lie though because most of our families don’t eat dinner until about 8:00 or even 10:00 at night, yet another cultural adjustment. My favorite time of the day is actually right after dinner because I get to talk to my host mom and see how her day was. These after dinner conversations are called sobremesas and are really important in the Argentine culture. It’s a time to be with friends or family and to just talk and have time together.

After the sobremesas the nightlife of Argentina officially begins! Most college-aged people here in Rosario head to the local bars or boliches (clubs) on Friday and Saturday nights. Since dinner typically starts later, people will be out until 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning either bar-hopping or dancing cumbia at a boliche. Overall, the day-to-day life here in Argentina is very different than good ol’ Indianola, Iowa. Regardless, we are all having a blast – enjoying every moment of this truly life-changing experience.

A Weekend Away in Uruguay

Colonia panarama picBy Ashley Sims & Zoe Carlson

If you’re interested in time traveling, we suggest taking a semester abroad. The 28th of April marked our eighth week in Argentina! For the majority of us, time is going by fast and we can’t believe we have less than two months left in this incredible country.

Last weekend, we took a mini getaway to the beautiful town of Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay. Our journey started Friday afternoon where we hopped on a tiny bus for a four hour drive to Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires. From there, we boarded a ship to Colonia and spent about an hour on the river. Right away, we could feel the hospitality and friendliness of the town. While very culturally similar to Argentina, we could see the big city versus small town dynamic. The locals would wave to us on the street, and we were followed basically everywhere by what I can honestly say were the friendliest stray dogs in the world. We arrived to our hotel, got settled into our small, yet cozy, rooms, and headed out to a nice dinner as a class.

We scheduled a city tour for Saturday morning. Even walking to our bus stop was a beautiful adventure. It was only a few blocks, however the architecture, street art, and nature of Colonia was breathtaking. On the tour, we were able to get off at designated stops and explore the city. Many of us stopped at the rivers, the Plaza de Toros (abandoned bullfighting ring), and the fería where there were many beautiful hand made souvenirs and crafts from Colonia. It was really nice to have a tour where we were able to stop at places that fit our individual interests. Saturday night, we headed out to another delicious dinner as a class.

Colonia bayAfter dinner, a few of us decided to find out what the Colonia nightlife was like. Even though Colonia had a small town feel, the boliche (nightclub) was packed! We had a great time dancing and meeting some people from there. It’s always obvious that we’re not from South America, so often times people come up to us when we’re out and get really excited when we say we’re from the United States. One girl even kept screaming “IOWA!” the whole night when she ran into one of us. We got home around 5am, (which, believe it or not, is considered early around here) and rested up for the next day.

Sunday, we were able to do more exploring of the city on our own. In the oldest part of the town, Colonia has a beautiful lighthouse that overlooks the city. Many of us had the opportunity to climb to the top and see from a different perspective just how beautiful their community is. That night, we headed out to yet another beautiful, elegant, and delicious dinner. The restaurant was so small that with our group of eighteen, we had essentially booked the entire place, complete with candlelight and a live guitar player.

Monday morning, we packed up and said goodbye to the beautiful city of Colonia. The trek home was another interesting one. Aside from some very cranky immigration workers who didn’t seem to want to let us back into the country, our bus broke down just outside of Buenos Aires and we had to sit in the cramped van for about an hour. Despite that little hiccup, we made it home perfectly fine and got to enjoy the rest of the day with our host families. Colonia was an extremely beautiful and peaceful place, which we would definitely recommend to anyone who is looking to get away for a while!Colonia small

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.

brenda soto_1

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:

MarissaBelau2

 

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.

MarissaBelau1

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