Le cinéma français, Simpson Style!

Did you know that many popular American movies are actually remakes of French films?

The French 353 Comparative Cinema class, led by Professor Sharon Wilkinson, has been learning about cultural differences between France and the United States by comparing some of these pairs of films. And what better way to show off what we’ve learned than to try our hand at adapting English-language short films for a French audience?

french-film1The students’ task was to analyze the cultural elements of this short film (such as the choice of sports, the choice of stereotypes, and the type of ending) and then to find a way to adapt these elements to a French audience.

The students worked in groups of three to produce their remake. They interviewed our French Fulbright teaching assistant, Rosa Bathia, to find out what kind of changes would make their version more “French.”

They learned that individual sports such as judo, biking, or even ballet, would be more typical in France than badminton. Some groups adapted the stereotypes of parental roles to be more French with a demanding, strict mother and an understanding father, according to Rosa’s advice.


All groups adjusted the ending of their film to be more realistic, ambiguous, or tragic, in keeping with the examples studied in class. Then they wrote their script, filmed their story, and edited the footage, making use of special effects and music.

Check out their work on our YouTube channel and below.

Not bad for a budget of $0, right?

What a great way to put cultural learning to work and have fun at the same time!

Students can be Heard Through Communication & Media Studies Opportunity  

Amy Frakes and Austin JacobsWhether it’s popular culture or conservative politics, KSTM 88.9 FM radio — known on campus as The Storm — gives Simpson College students the power to run their own radio station.

KSTM is Simpson’s student-operated radio station that broadcasts live over the 88.9 FM channel in and around Indianola and online here. http://kstmonline.simpson.edu:88/broadwavehigh.mp3?

“KSTM is a non-commercial low power station. It started as part of the Student Affairs Office years ago and was moved to the Communication & Media Studies Department to bring it into the academic experience of students studying journalism,” says faculty advisor Mark Siebert. “In 2013, KSTM moved into a new studio in the Gaumer Building.”

All students get some training in FCC rules to ensure the station is in compliance. Station manager Abbie Benge is in charge of monitoring the material and keeping the station up and running.

“I have already gained a lot of knowledge since becoming station manager,” says Benge. “I learned all about the FCC guidelines, I learned how the station runs and how to control it and fix it if something goes wrong.”

Benge says she’s used her experience with KSTM to further her career goals.

“I was an intern with Cumulus Media this summer, so I came in knowing a lot about how to promote a radio station and what types of things to incorporate into shows to make them more appealing to listeners,” she says. “I’ve also developed a method of how to teach the process to other students.”

Junior Austin Jacobs hosts a conservative political show on The Storm, and he says his experience is something from which he can benefit in the future.

“Two of my friends had a show last year and had a good time so Amy [Frakes] and I figured, why not try it out!” he says. “So far it’s been a great learning experience. I do plan on putting it on my resume. It shows my wide range of skills, and I see that as a plus.”

Not only can having a radio show impact a student’s campus life, it can also help develop those key skills needed in any future field of work.

“Most students who participate do not continue on to careers in radio,” says Siebert, the KSTM adviser. “Most will work full-time jobs in another field and perhaps have a radio show on the side covering high school sports or something similar. The skills developed are applicable to a number of different fields.”

The Storm is an outlet for a range of views and outlooks on lifestyle, politics, sports, popular culture and an endless number of possible show topics.

On the dial for this semester includes a liberal political show, a conservative political show, “geek news” for those interested in comic-book culture, local and national sports reviewing, Latino lifestyle coverage and other great shows provided by Simpson students and fostered by the Communication & Media Studies department.

It’s easy to get involved on campus and make your voice heard when a free radio opportunity is located within the college. Don’t be afraid to make noise at Simpson and foster future career skills through avenues like KSTM 88.9FM — The Storm.

Business and Communications Career Fair

Are you looking for an internship?  Are you graduating and looking for a job?  Attend the Business and Communications Career Fair tomorrow.  Several companies that hire mathematics and actuarial science majors will be participating.

Wednesday, October 29 | 12:00p.m. – 2:00p.m. | Kent Campus Center Hubbell Hall

Macy Koch – Alumni Update

Macy Koch recent wrote an interesting article about how she uses mathematics in marketing.  Click here to read the article.

***If you graduated from Simpson College with a mathematics or actuarial science degree and would like to write an graduate update for this blog, send it (along with a current picture) to debra.czarneski@simpson.edu.  We would happy to post it.***

Iowa Section of MAA (Mathematical Association of America)

Debra Czarneski, Associate Professor of Mathematics, recently presented a talk about student presentations in Calculus II at the annual meeting of the Iowa Section of the MAA.  This year the conference was hosted by Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa.

Deb just finished her third year (of four years) in a leadership position for the Iowa Section of the MAA.  During 2013-2014, she was the chair of the organization and led the Executive Committee Meeting and formal business meeting during the conference.  During 2014-2015, she will hold the position of past chair.

Simpson Promotes Math Modeling Contest at Iowa High Schools

With the 2014 High School Mathematical Contest in Modeling (HiMCM) fast approaching, the Mathematics Department at Simpson College again is making every effort to promote this competition throughout the state of Iowa.  This 36 hour international team competition is sponsored by the Consortium of Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP).  For this competition, participants work on real world open ended problems.  Recently visits have been made to the high schools of Sioux City North, Norwalk, and Central Academy in Des Moines.  Visits are scheduled for Cedar Rapids Prairie, Ottumwa, and Lincoln High school in Des Moines.  At each visit, there is a presentation given that prepares teachers and students for the competition.  This presentation was put together by Simpson College mathematics faculty and students that participated in the Mathematical & Interdisciplinary Competitions in Modeling (MCM/ICM), also sponsored by COMAP.  For ten consecutive years, Simpson College has fielded more teams in the MCM/ICM than any other institution in the United States.

As part of these promotional efforts, faculty member Rick Spellerberg and North Cedar High School mathematics teacher Vicki Hamdorf gave a presentation on the HiMCM at the Iowa Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM) annual meeting at Iowa State University.  North Cedar High School was one of the first schools in the state of Iowa that started participating in the HiMCM due to the promotional efforts of the department.  Since then North Cedar has participated in the HiMCM competition on a yearly basis and fields ten or more teams on a regular basis.  Both the HiMCM and the MCM/ICM provide the participating students strong evidence that a background in mathematics will afford them a large and exciting number of career opportunities.

Simpson College Mathematics Department
Website: simpson.edu/math
Like us on Facebook: SimpsonCollegeMath
Follow us on Twitter: @SimpsonCollMath

Crêpes and conversation: French language tables!

The students in Simpson’s introductory French class, Professor Sutton’s FREN 110, have been attending French Language Tables over the course of this semester. The tables are run by our talented Fulbright Teaching Assistant, the très chic et sympathique Rosa Bathia from Paris.


Rosa and some of her FREN 110 Language Table students










Rosa has been offering some very entertaining and challenging Language Tables. One session was all about tongue-twisters! As one student reported:

We worked on the different sounds the vowels make. It really allowed me to better understand how pronunciation works. I liked that we focused on one general theme and kept it simple. I feel that this allows us to retain more of the information presented. We did little tongue twisters to learn the sounds which I feel were a great way to practice in a fun way. I think that my pronunciation and flow of my French improved greatly over the half hour. I would like to continue working on things like this during future language tables.










This week, Rosa held a Language Table where students were able to feast on crêpes and Nutella while Skyping with one of Rosa’s friends from France. This kind of interaction with a native speaker can be really nerve-wracking — but it is so worth it! And the food helps as well…

As one student told us,

I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Rosa’s friend. We introduced ourselves to each other, and I told her what classes I was taking and what my major was. She explained how they don’t have majors until graduate school. I had also prepared questions to ask her. One was “Do you enjoy reading?” and the other was, “what time do people in France eat dinner?” Her responses contained words that I wasn’t too sure on, and I had to ask Rosa what a lot of the words meant. It was very informational and pretty fun.













Language Tables en français - part of the unique Simpson College experience! Merci, Rosa!

Intercultural communication in Mexico: When “sí” can mean “yes” or “no”

As our Intercultural Communication (IC) students well know, sometimes there is no direct, one-to-one translation of a term. In fact, it might even be the rare exception!

One example is the word “no.” Easy enough, right? Well, no.

As we read in this blog post, “Five Things Mexicans Say to Avoid the Word No,” it’s essential that we know how to communicate not only in a language, but also in and between cultures.

The article cites the following words that say one thing but can actually mean no, depending on the context:

– Sí (yes)

– Quizá (perhaps)

– Gracias (thank you)

– Estamos en contacto (we will be in touch)

– Ahorita (right now, just now)

As you can see, these words have other meanings as well, and so it’s not enough to be able to speak Spanish–it’s essential to be able to communicate interculturally! Luckily, that is exactly what Simpson College students get to do all the time in their Intercultural Communication (IC) classes!





Happy Halloween from Math Club

Yesterday afternoon, Math Club members carved mathematical pumpkins.  They are currently on display outside the north entrance of Carver Science.  You can also see pictures from the event on the Simpson College Math Department Facebook page (and you can like us while you are there)!


Thank you to all the carvers for attending this fun annual event!

Our next Math Club meeting is Monday, November 24 at 3:20pm in Carver 340.



Videos: Teaching Veterans

What Learning Activities Help Student Veterans Succeed?

Simpson College has an increasing number of students who are veterans transitioning back to civilian life.  After viewing this video, you’ll be able to implement learning activities to help student veterans succeed, understand and explain the differences between military and academic decision making and communication, and help student veterans learn how to reflect and write for an academic rather than a military environment.

How Do I Accommodate Student Veterans with Disabilities?

This video will provide you with an idea of what it feels like to have a variety of different cognitive disorders.  More importantly, it will teach you how making simple adjustments to the way you teach face-to-face will make it easier for student veterans to succeed.  You will learn to recognize the impact acquired disabilities have on students, discern the difference between associative and cognitive tasks, and understand the impact of acquired disabilities on learning.

How Do I Design Courses to Enhance Student Veterans’ Success?

After viewing this video, you will be able to redesign your courses to support success for student veterans, use course design to help student veterans make the most of their strengths, adapt everything from course objectives to syllabus design to support student veterans, use classroom technology to improve course design and delivery, and improve educational opportunities for student veterans by implementing the basic Principles of Universal Design.

To view any of these videos and/or access the supplemental materials, click on the question of interest above.