I currently live in Boston and attend second year at Northeastern School of Law, with a path towards environmental law. However, I majored in physics during my undergraduate studies at Columbia University. Go light blue! My first physics classes came in middle school, and I continued to take and enjoy them throughout high school, with an inspiring first teacher. Outside the textbooks, first attempts at physical experimenting came during high school science fairs, in which friends and I signed up to build a wind tunnel -- sturdy enough, but also severely underpowered by a living room fan, which would at top speed manage a breeze. In another year, we watched many compressed air and water-powered (empty, 2 liter soda bottle) rockets fizzle and refuse to lift-off before we had a few important things figured out. It was fun.
I am looking forward to working with students who are also studying physics and math and applying themselves. Though this is my first formal tutoring experience, I hope to be able to learn from others as I go, and to continually get better at it. However, I do have some informal experience tutoring calculus. My younger sister, who is now a sophomore in college, is a competitive tennis player, and she decided to finish her high school by doing senior year online, so she could dedicate more of her time to tennis. For part of her calculus course, when I was around at home, I was her assigned home tutor. I hope she would give me good marks. I learned a lot from it (and hope she would say that she learned a lot, too!)
I am grateful for the opportunity I had in college to take so many courses with great friends, colleagues, and professors, both within the physics department and beyond. In physics, I primarily enjoyed classical mechanics (closest I got to engineering...) and thermodynamics. But I also enjoyed quantum mechanics and introduction to general relativity (though I'm still trying to figure out it really meant!) I equally enjoyed the experimental and laboratory side.
Part of my interest, and the most abiding one, in physics relates to flying and airplanes. I have been interested in airplanes and how they fly since very young. During college, I was a member of a small group of students, primarily from the civil engineering department, that annually designed and built a remote-controlled, scaled-down airplane, according to specifications for a Cessna/Raytheon competition for college students in aeronautics. After graduating from college, I was fortunate to jump aboard a cool remote-sensing project in Panama (where my parents currently live most of the year). The project entailed using a small Cessna airplane to take vertical photographs of a section of the Panama Canal watershed in the months following a major rainstorm in order to make a geographically-correct, digital map. From the map, we were able to find and catalog the visible landslides, in the mostly-rugged terrain, that occurred during and after the storm. We also had enough matching data for the area to in the future the landslide incidence, and their sizes and locations, relate to hill slope angle, land cover, the direction the slope faces, elevation and rainfall.
I grew up Nicaragua and Honduras, but I was born in Wellesley, MA, just outside Boston. My father is from Detroit and my mother from Boston, but they moved to Nicaragua in 1986 to pursue careers teaching and researching sustainable agriculture systems in the tropics. Currently, my mother and father own and run a medium-sized, certified organic and shade-grown (under native and diverse canopy trees, and therefore friendly to migratory and native birds) coffee farm just south of Managua, the capital, in the Sierra de Managua, at around 2,600 feet. My interest in pursuing a science-oriented career in environmental law I think derives from my parent's background and my experiences in efforts to further conservation of species and natural resources.
Columbia College - Bachelors, Physics
Northeastern University School of Law - Current Grad Student, J.D. expected
GRE Quantitative: 166
GRE Verbal: 156
GRE Subject Test in Physics
GRE Subject Tests
High School Physics
SAT Subject Tests Prep
What is your teaching philosophy?
My best teachers have always had a passion for what they were teaching, and they showed it to us in the classroom. They also cared pretty deeply about whether, and how much, students were getting what they could from the learning opportunity. Of course, they also knew their subjects well enough to be able to adapt how they taught it; they weren't constrained by any one approach.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would probably ask him or her to point out were their trouble spots are (and hopefully they aren't the same as mine!). I would also ask using actual, practical problems (maybe from a recent exam or problem set), were they were getting stuck or making a wrong move.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I think that inspiring an interest in a subject like physics or math can be super important. With that interest, maybe beyond simply completing an assignment or achieving a certain grade (though not unimportant goals, too), I know I have been motivated to practice and learn on my own.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I think it would depend on the student. But for each I would try to show how much progress had already been made and were that fit in to the larger goal at hand. I would also keep stressing were the student was doing well and improving rapidly. I think it is hard to stay motivated if there is not much progress behind them or achievement in sight ahead, so continually reminding them of both might serve well.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would try different approaches to it. Maybe by explaining it using a real-world experience or pointing out different ways of doing a same problem.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I have found being able to explain what I am doing to be a good way of measuring how much mastery I have of what I am actually doing. So, having a student explain to me the material in their own words would help be sure that they have ownership of it.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I have found helpful to come prepared, with a game plan of sorts, to the session, especially the first ones, so that the student doesn't have to worry except for coming ready to learn. That said, I also find it helpful to ask the student what specifically they are working on/towards, and if they have any assignments to complete. I also have found it helpful to let students work through problems on their own -- even if they make mistakes and are not sure -- after getting a bit of introduction. Going through the process of recognizing their own mistakes, as they made them, I think helps in gaining confidence and ownership over their own work. Finally, having a student explain to me their work I think helps them take ownership and get excited about it.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Especially for math and physics, tying the subject to real-life and common examples and phenomena (and the wonders of it) helps engage students.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Allowing students to work through problems/questions on their own -- with enough of an introduction and example as a good starting point -- and make mistakes and correct them from experience, I think helps boost confidence. It seems that most students feel like they take ownership of the material, and see its nuances, when they make their own corrections and catch their own mistakes.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Diagnostic assessments, especially in the case of high school math, helps pinpoint specific areas that might need a bit more practice and polishing. I have also found it helpful to ask students to not be shy ever to ask any questions whatsoever, at any moment, while we are working through problems. This is very, very helpful in identifying where a student feels like there is something she or he is not quite comfortable yet with.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
In the past, if a student needed more guidance and help in problem solving, I would try to recognize that and lead them through step by step and through detailed solutions. If a student is at the stage where she or he feels comfortable tackling problems/questions, I will just provide back-up and encouragement, and verification that what they are doing and practicing is accurate and is a good habit.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I find the AP physics B guide (and its practice problems) helpful for high school physics. I also find it helpful when students have specific and particular problem sets from class on hand -- especially if they are actively working on them as an assignment or in review for tests.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I haven't had to deal with reading comprehension too much, since I mostly tutor math and physics. But if I would, I think I'd do what I have found helpful with physics and math problem-solving -- let students feel comfortable recognizing the mistakes we all make all the time, and try to allow them to feel comfortable in taking ownership of their learning process (and hopefully enjoy it too).