Oh dear, first quarter of sabbatical over. That went fast. What did I do this month, besides the usual meeting with students, answering e-mail, etc?

  • Went on a 1-day school field trip with my kid which was aimed at trying to get the students to practice the French they have been learning. Most of these students have only been taking French for a year or two, and while some of them had a great time, others were extremely uncomfortable with not understanding what was going on. I think there may be an important lesson there in teaching science-for-non-scientists..

  • Finished off and submitted my NSERC CREATE Letter of Intent for the university’s down-select. If it goes through this step, it then has two more hurdles to jump and something like <20% chance of actually being funded, so it is probably nuts that I spent as much time as I did making contacts, doing background research, and actually writing the thing. But I did learn a lot.

  • Proposed for funding to do part of the CREATE project separately through a grant for “technology-enhanced learning” from Western’s Faculty of Science. This was rejected, at least partly on the grounds that it only applied to astronomy students and some of them would be outside Western. Fair enough. Plan is to re-use some of this in a proposal to the Ontario Online program, for which the call is expected in the fall.

  • Went on a winter vacation, staying offline for an entire week. It was very nice but I think a week of doing very little is about my limit.

  • While on vacation, contemplated whether to apply for the chair position in my department. More to say about that later.

  • Attended one of the townhall meetings for the Canadian Astronomical Society’s Mid-Term Review of its Long-Range Plan for Canadian astronomy. More details here and here.

  • Did some work on a very interesting consulting job. Unfortunately can’t say much about it at present (non-disclosure agreement).

  • Talked with some grade 4 and 5 students at the Thames Valley Science & Engineering Fair about black holes; did the balloon activity from this webpage. It went pretty well and we made quite a fun mess.

April and May will feature meetings, travel and other fun stuff; lots to write about coming up.