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PostSubject: hello isci   Wed Jan 13, 2010 5:50 pm

hey guys prospective student over here with a few questions

So I finished writing the supplementary which I'm still going to edit a bit after high school exams are over and was wondering a few things

1. do you think you learn a lot more than people, say, in other traditional science programs, and how much of what you do is actually relating multiple disciplines of science
2. how much of an increase in workload should one expect/how many hours/days would you say it takes to complete a project, study for a test etc, i know that it's obviously a lot more in high school
3. is everybody friends with everybody
4. are the marks/class averages good considering the calibre of students entering? (this probably wont affect whether I accept iSci or not since it sounds like such an interesting program)
5. iSci >> Health Sci, while this is clearly a fact, as of now (will probably change numerous times over the next four years which is why i'm looking at isci) I'm interested in doing medical research of some sort. Do you think there are any limits to what you can do with an iSci degree vs. Life sci/healthsci/biomed etc. in terms of professional schools?
6. anyone know how many applicants there were last year?

anyways, hope to hear from you guys soon and possibly see you at Mac next year
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Wed Jan 13, 2010 7:50 pm

Hi There!

Thanks for being brave enough to make the first post; we really appreciate it!

So, to answer your questions:

1. In terms of what we learn, we learn everything that a typical science student would learn if they were student learning each of the areas we study. However, the way that we learn and investigate the content is vastly different. We do much more hands on type research, many more labs (rather than biweekly, we do up to 3-4 a week), and we complete "research projects", which are the cornerstone of the program.
Because we learn in these different ways, and because we learn things with more context involved, we generally learn more of the content, and gain a better understanding.
The real difference of what we learn is in the skills we obtain by learning in this manner. In our research projects we've made "scientific" presentations and posters, similar to what you would encounter in 3rd, 4th, or graduate years. Also, the small class size allows for more investigative learning and self-directed research, and our Scientific Literacy component is basically a class to help us develop our researching and communication skills.

2. The workload involved in iSci is much different than typical university programs, and university is much different than high school. In general, the average first year student in a typical program has anywhere from 12-24 hours of classtime/labs a week. You would typically have shorter classes, but there is a greater need to review and learn from textbooks. In iSci, if you are also taking one elective, you would have around 30-33 hours of class a week. However, you get a lot more contact time with professors, and some of your classes is actually time reserved for working on your research project. This year, most of have found the workload to be a bit more than necessary, but already they have been changing the way our time is used to benefit us. I suspect that next years class will have less class time or more efficient class time, based on what we have heard our professors have mentioned.

While we may have a lot of work because the program is so project based, I find it to be much more enjoyable and therefore easier to put more effort in. The way we get to learn is so different and so involved that the workload, in my opinion, is hardly a detract from the program.

3. Yes, everyone is friends with everyone. Of course, people will hangout with some people more than others, but I have yet to see any "iDrama" within the group. Because there is a lot of group work, you end up getting to know people pretty well, pretty quick, and overall, there is definately an iSci bond among us students.

4. Its difficult to talk about marks, mainly because we don't know how we would have done in other programs. In university, most peoples marks will go down significantly, and that often isn't related to how well you did in high school. I believe that most people are pretty satisfied with their marks, and most people outside of iSci that I talk to don't have marks that are as high as ours. My feeling is that marks are merely a representation of my progress, and even if I was not happy with my marks, the experience I feel I have gained is much more valuable.

5. I would say it is hard to compare iSci vs. Health Sci, because they are two very different programs. iSci looks to be more about investigation and research than Health Sci, which focuses mainly on aspects of health. Because we have more electives in upper years, it allows us to specialize in the fields we are more interested in while still giving us a solid foundation in the other areas of science. There are some iSci's considering things like med school or medical research, and there wouldn't be any restriction for you pursuing that field. The difference is mainly the experience you gain from either programs. iSci is also a bit more intimate, having a fraction of th students as well. In reference to Life Sci, we would cover all the same material in a more investigative way, and, like life sci, you can specialize, so there would be no difference other than the experience you would gain.

6. As for the number of applicants, for the ones that completed the application, I think there was a few hundred??? However, I think that this year is a lot different because the program is actually in place and there is more familiarity with the program. I have heard that there has been much more interest this year than last, but I would say that this year would be a different ballgame.

If you have more questions, please feel free to ask them. Also, if there were any questions that you didn't want to put publicly, feel free to pm one of us, or email iscisociety@gmail.com, which is the email for our society executive, which I am a part of. Hope this helped & hope to see you next year!
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Thu Jan 14, 2010 1:04 pm

Just to add another perspective on your questions (as everything in iSci is about looking at issues in different perspectives),

You do learn more, and you do work more, compared to other programs, and everyone is pretty chill with everyone, it's not like HealthSci where there's mad drama. All of us get along so it's pretty cool but you also don't feel forced to be best friends with everyone (although it does tend to happen), I really think it's a good balance in that regard. Marks will be there if you work well, perhaps it is a little bit harder (it's really tough for any of us to compare as this is the only uni program we've really been in for the long haul), but this by no means should be a deterrent.

If you're into inquiry, critical thinking, and you have your heart set on being a doctor right now, I would probably recommend Health Sci over iSci (which is definitely a great program too). However, if you really want to explore science, and love labs and research, iSci is the better bet. (People on this forum will be a bit biased, I'd definitely recommend contacting Health Sci students if you're interested in their program).

And over 320 people applied last year, however more are expected this year! I would expect a rise in applicants in every successive year as this program continues to gain more media attention and Canada-wide coverage as a unique interdisciplinary program.

Thanks, and if there are any more questions, post back!
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:15 pm

Prateek Gupta wrote:
it's not like HealthSci where there's mad drama.

Prateek Gupta wrote:
(People on this forum will be a bit biased

especially like the above member
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PostSubject: Great to see some interest!   Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:25 pm

one of the best aspects of iSci is the supportive community created by having such a small program which spends so much time together. you will quickly learn to love the iStudy because there is usually quite a few fellow iScis who you can work with or ask for help. also i am sure that your fellow upper years will be more than willing to help. being able to have a bunch of other students doing lots of work along side you really helps with the above average work load. just be sure that you are willing to work on your off-subject(s) because the load is pretty evenly distributed among the different streams.

EDIT: also, in grade 12 I was SURE I wanted to go into health sci and be a doctor, and now I am more interested in mathematics. so I would say you should apply to both Health Sci and iSci, but know that choosing iSci will have NO effect on your eligibility for professional schools.
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PostSubject: hello isci   Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:05 pm

thanks for all the responses! I understand where you're coming from in terms of yours answers, and how you really have nothing to compare iSci to. I get the gist of what you're trying to say, and I must say I'm quite impressed, and will probably be even more so if I have the pleasure of actually getting accepted, which seems like it will be really difficult. i can only think of two more questions for you guys

1. i read somewhere in the FAQ for isci of the possibility of a 3rd/4th year abroad? any more info on that like where you may be able to go/do?

2. think your library floor is big enough for 60 more Razz ?

oh, and lastly, to whomever it was that said they changed their mind from healthsci/doctor to math, what do you think changed your mind about it, and what's your ideal career after isci? just to get another perspective. I really don't want to narrow my perspectives in science and might end up hating learning mostly about health, but I'll be honest that I'm getting ahead of myself here and should just wait to [hopefully] get accepted!

again, thanks for your quick responses and insight, it's really appreciated
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:41 pm

Hi,
I will throw my opinion into the mix and try to answer your most recent questions. If you are worried about getting in, the most important thing is the supplementary application. As you are already working on it, you seem to be on the right track. As for opportunities abroad, this falls into the category of many projects the isci staff are working on. Summer internships, leadership certificates, scholarships, and a 5th year masters are all potential options for students that are in the works. All of them require lots of administration work, and pursuing all of them immediately would be unrealistic. Ultimately, it comes down to student interest. Multiple members of our class are very interested in going abroad in 3rd year, so there's a good chance it could happen. It would most likely be to a similar program that has been established in the UK for much longer. With each successive cohort, more of these options are likely to be available by the time they reach that stage. Renovations in the library were actually delayed, so we were not able to move into our space at Thode library until several weeks into the school season. For this reason, we intend to exclude next year's class for an equivalent period, to allow us to recoup the extreme difficulties of not having a specifically designated space on campus. A more truthful response would be to tell you that there is definitely lots of room here, and we all look forward to meeting next year's class of iscis. As for the isci vs. health sci problem, both are good programs and have the potential to prepare you for med school. Isci definitely keeps more options open, but health sci would have more content that would be directly applicable to a career in the medical field. You could make up for this by selecting specific health-related courses in upper years. One of isci's main advantages is the interdisciplinary approach (obviously). The skills of bringing things together and making connections, through applying concepts from different branches of science to a problem present an opportunity that you can only get from isci. Ultimately, you will have to decide what you are most interested in. The friendly and numerous responses to your queries provide a good indication of the atmosphere within isci. Best of luck in applications, and we hope to see you next year.
Solomon Barkley
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:04 pm

In grade 12 I really wanted to be a research doctor because I love to learn and wanted to help people, I wanted to work on curing disease whether it was cancer or diabetes or AIDS or w/e. but what I realized in the latter portion of grade 12 and the 1st year of iSci is that biology is inherently a statistical science, and that cures are found by educated guesswork and years of clinical studies which eventually turn into T-tests to see if your cure is statistically significant. the issue with following this career path is that I want precision, I love understanding formulas and interactions which have a definite outcome. Biology and medicine are on too large a scale to get that, and in order to apply my type of thinking to medicine I would need to understand the entire body from the atomic level upwards, which is inherently flawed. Not to mention that practicing medicine is kind of repetitive and reminiscent of a skilled trade because not a lot of new material is learned. (a lot of people STRONGLY disagree with that statement, but I stand by it) I also came to two realizations (they seem somewhat conflicting but w/e) other areas of science can help people more than medicine and helping people as a career is vastly overrated (I apologize if anyone finds this callous or even immoral but it is how I feel) your life should be about you, you should do what you have fun doing and shouldn't do anything that you do not want to do unless it is a necessity. (apologies again for the tangent) but anyways, I chose to go into iSci because I wasn't 100% sure what I wanted to do, and I am still unsure. I know I want to learn and hopefully do research and probably teach but I don't know what. iSci not only allows you to defer that decision, but helps you decide what you truly want to do by exposing you to every science and even lends new perspective on science as a whole, and how it works, and how all science comes together. the greatest thing I have learned from iSci so far is that it doesn't really matter what stream you choose you will be exposed to the others, and they WILL influence your stream.
if you are interested, I am probably going to specialize in mathematics next year, and aspire to become a professor. I am interested in so many specific topics (extra-dimensional geometry, quantum mechanics, astrophysics, neuroscience and many more) that it is impossible to know what I will pursue in mathematics in the future, but whatever all that matters is that I am enjoying learning now. (i'll come off my proverbial soap box now)

isci isnt perfect, certainly not compared to health sci which is a great program, but it allows you to learn everything you want to and more on top of that.

P.S.
I apologize for the length of my response, but you caught me in a ranting mood. also please ignore all fragments, misspellings, and anything that doesn't make sense. I didn't proofread.
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:11 pm

Again, I apologize for my slight bashing of bio/medicine, I am biased.
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:40 am

Scot:

Is not the foundation of science and mathematics based on educated guesswork? Any ideas that we know as facts today must have branched from some form of hypotheses that underwent testing to confirm or disprove their validity. Even stemming back to some of the greatest physicists and mathematicians we know today, they had to relentlessly come up with numerous mathematical theories, based on evidence in front of them, in order to produce formulas that best explain evidence that is known to be true. While you say that biology and medicine are on too large of a scale to get a definite outcome, I feel that the circumstances are too different to make that statement. Mathematics can go at whatever pace you make it go at, especially with the advantages of computers. You don't have to wait several generations to find out that your family has a certain genetic discrepancy or 30+ years to find out that a substance that was used daily turned out to be carcinogenic, or have to battle social/cultural/religious opposition on certain theories before you can get to some sort of outcome. I think of the human body as a big mathematical problem with many unknown variables, but I think it is a much more manageable feat than, say, attempting to figure out the mathematics of our entire universe. I believe a factor that is proportional in some way to the amount of knowledge we know about each field is time and that it isn't valid to say that one is generally more precise than the other. If you want to get philosophical about it, how can we guarantee the precision of anything for that matter? Aren't we the ones who defined "precision"? ... alright, now I'm rambling. =)

Also, while I can somewhat understand why you may think that medicine is a reminiscent of a skilled trade, I don't think that it's something it always is or always has to be. Hopefully iSci, and other similar university programs, will produce passionate individuals that are concerned with the advancement of medicine.

Now, onto a question I originally planned to ask =P
Ultimately, I understand that there is an emphasis being placed on the supplementary application and its contents. Just out of pure curiosity, approximately what grade averages did you have when accepted into the program? Also, what types of questions were on last year's applications and what sort of responses were provided? This isn't a coy for answers, I've written up nearly all of my application already. I'm just curious about what set your answers apart from everyone else's.
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:00 am

Tatjana, with a response like that I am sure you are gonna get in to iSci and you would fit in very well. my average was 93% i think, but that doesn't really matter, it all comes down to the supplementary application. on last year's application, my personal favourite question was "If you could be an element on the periodic table, what would it be and why?" my answer was zinc because it is generous (shares electrons) and protects it's friends (galvanization). it is durable and positively charged etc... the main purpose of the questions is to get a little bit of insight into who you are and what makes you tick, it is not a test and there is no right answer. the iTeach are not looking for cookie cutter people, they want you, they want someone who questions things and thinks for themselves. I hope that helps. once again from your passionate response to my ragging health care, I am almost positive you will get in.

Hope to see you next year! Razz
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:13 am

and in response to your first statement, no mathematics are not based on educated guesswork science is based on mathematics and guesswork. by focusing on mathematics I can deal with the exact and provide the tools you spoke of (computer modeling, discrete mathematical models etc...) for the people who are experimentalists. mathematics is the purest form of logic and the primary building block of theoretical science, the only difference between theoretical science and mathematics is that the axioms which science relies on are empirical, where as the axioms of math are very basic conceptual truths. and with regards to precision, theoretical science is much more precise than experimental because theory is a prediction before observation where as experimental is the fitting of a description to experimental results which can be confounded. theories can be outright disproven by experiment and must be entirely reconstructed conceptually, where as confounded results will simply shift constants in an empirical formula regardless of sound reasoning in some cases.

P.S.
I apologize if this is unclear, my sentences are not well constructed...
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:24 am

Hi Tatjana,
last year, the cutoff average was somewhere between 91% and 92%. However, due to the nature of the program, and the fact that we have a sample size of one, this provides no indication as to what the cutoff will be this year. As for the questions, most are quite similar to last years. I actualy had a hand in developing this year's questions, and I can tell you that most of the changes were simply to clarify meaning or emphasize different parts of the question (for example: "what subject area outside the sciences" was changed to "what subject area outside the maths and sciences"). Rather than choosing a celestial body, we each chose an element. And the group roles question wasn't there, but we students felt it would important to mention teamwork on the application because it is so important to the program. Other than that, it's pretty similar. Personally, I feel that your year's responses will be more usefull, becuase we have an extra year of experience writing questions. As for our responses, we will be happy to share them with you next year. Sorry, but I don't think it would be appropriate for us to post information about our answers on this forum, even if you aren't specifically looking for ideas. The important thing is just to show who you are and why you want to be a part of isci. As it says, there are no particular correct answers that we're looking for. Sorry I can't be of more help.
Good luck and I hope to see you in September!
Solomon Barkley

ps. I apologize for the bold: I just wanted to make sure other current iscis see it.
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:46 am

Scot:

I appreciate the response! You have an interesting viewpoint, and I can't say I disagree on your view of mathematics.
Wasn't Einstein's introduction of a cosmological constant to suit the theory of a static universe confounded, as well? He had a theory, it was disproved by observational data and then adjusted to suit that data, too. By your definition, it could be said that this situation is an example of both theoretical and experimental science, making both confounded/contradictory. Either way, I think that there are always exceptions that are unavoidable at this point.

Solomon:
Thank you! Your response was very informative =) I completely understand and respect your reasoning. Showing who we are is something I've heard a lot up to this point, from you guys, your professors, and the website, so I've grasped the importance and I hope it's reflected in my application. Your information was helpful, though. No doubt =)

Thank you again!
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Wed Jan 20, 2010 8:15 pm

Hey Tatjana! Thanks for your response. You seem like a great fit for iSci (although admittedly, it seems like it's difficult to determine a select 'fit' for the program). It's nice to already see involvement from potential students! If you have any specific questions, feel free to start a new topic for discussion. Everyone here is very knowledgeable about the program, res life, campus life, how the program is structured. And I guarantee you'll get quick responses as well!

Prateek

And PS nick, health sci having mad drama isn't a bias, it's an irrefutable fact Razz haha
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:53 pm

well, you would know prateek tongue
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Thu Jan 28, 2010 6:05 pm

"my average was 93% i think, but that doesn't really matter, it all
comes down to the supplementary application."

I'll have to respectfully disagree. Marks remain very important for entry into this and other elite programs at McMaster and other schools. Marks are the first cutoff, even before the supp apps are reviewed.

It is the combination of great marks and the supp app that leads to an acceptance.
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Thu Jan 28, 2010 9:32 pm

Marks are definitely a factor for being accepted into any university program. The great thing about iSci is that it is not solely based on marks. The supplementary application makes acceptance into the program about who the student is, not just what marks they were able to achieve in high school.

It's true, there were not any acceptances given to those with averages below 90 this past year. However, there is a fair range of acceptance averages in iSci; not very many of us had those crazy high marks (like 96+).

Not to mention, I've heard of (and met) a number of people with higher marks than mine who didn't get into the program, presumably because of their supplementary application. And honestly, the marks people had in high school don't necessarily correlate to their marks in iSci ( or even university in general).

If I had thought that this would be an elite program, based mostly on marks, I probably wouldn't have applied. That would have been unfortunate, because I love the program and I feel that I can contribute positively to it.

If you do have good marks, you should apply, and not worry about all those others who have marks higher than yours. There's always going to be someone with a higher mark, but if you have an application that shows you are a good candidate for iSci, that could be the deciding factor.

Also, you never know if you don't try Smile
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:41 pm

Quite right. I just didn't want it to sound like marks don't matter. They do, but as you say, they are only one piece of the puzzle here. And, yes, it's wonderful to have something else to evaluate a candidate on - there's far too little of that in higher education.

You don't need to have the highest mark, just high enough that it makes the initial cut.
Having said that, it's always worth applying, because you never know where the cutoff will be.
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:47 am

Hey Darren here
First time posting on the forums.

A lot of people seem to be concerned about marks. But i just want to say that marks ain't everything. Just try your best and apply and hope you get in, thats just the way applying for university goes.
Believe me, the iTeach team (the isci profs) are very well educated and they can tell who is really interested in this program.
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:11 pm

One very last minute question, before I click send... How strictly enforced is the 150 word maximum for the application questions? I have a couple responses that exceed the max by about 25 words but are able to say everything I want to say.
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:16 pm

I am not 100% but I believe it will just cut your response to 150 words, so I would recommend keeping it to 150 or less
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PostSubject: Supplementary Application   Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:47 am

Hi there.

I'm having a debate with a friend that i hope you guys will be able to clarify. We are both applying to the iSci program and we have a question concerning the supplementary application


SECTION C.

What subject area outside science and mathematics particularly appeals to you?

we were wondering if you consider geography... specifically environmental studies to fall under the science category of that question. please respond ASAP. Thanks!
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:59 am

hmm that's a tough one...environmental studies probably integrates both scientific and nonscientific aspects of that issue, so its probably a fringe type of thing; i don't see a problem with writing about it as longa syou stick to the non-science part of it and why it appeals to you. remembe rit's only 150 words, not that much you can put into it. good luck with your application though.

nick
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Fri Feb 05, 2010 1:37 am

hey, "unknown" haha, we like names here on the isci forum for the future. Razz

Here at McMaster the School of Geography and Earth Sciences, as well as Environment Studies are considered under the Faculty of Science.

However, the question asks about 'what subject area.' If you feel that environmental studies is distinct from science (in terms of a more social aspect), feel free to write about it. Just be honest in what really does appeal to you.

If you are still concerned, I'd recommend you to send a message to a member of the iTeach team expressing your concern: http://www.science.mcmaster.ca/isci/faculty
Specifically, Dr. Symons, Dr. Eyles, or Dr. Harvey would likely be able to clarify your question if need be.

--Prateek
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:31 am

Since tomorrow is the last day to submit your supplementary applications, I just wanted to wish you all the best of luck!

Having to wait a few months for people to read/select your application can be stressful, but don't worry too much. Things will all work out in the end Wink
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Fri Feb 05, 2010 3:54 am

Thank you for the prompt reply, it was very helpful. And sorry about that typo don't know what's up with that.

I will be sure to use 'a' name the next time i have a question Wink... but for now i think I'll stick to Unknown.

Care to expand/elaborate a little on the 'social side of environmental studies'?

Does the iSci program look at 'enviro' or is it more geography based?...if even at all. It seems like its more the three sciences plus math and astronomy thrown in the mix?
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Fri Feb 05, 2010 11:52 am

If I were to think of the social side of environmental studies, I would think that would involve policy making, human effect, etc. If you think what you have to say about environmental science/studies is more sciency, then that would be an area under science, wouldn't it.

The main pillars of iSci are Math, Bio, Chem, Physics, Scientific Literacy, and Earth Science. We have a little bit of astronomy thrown in with some of our projects, but that fits more into physics.
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Sat Feb 06, 2010 1:44 am

woot! supplementary applications are actually over! SWEEET!! =D
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:01 pm

Now we wait =)
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PostSubject: Re: hello isci   Mon May 31, 2010 8:58 pm

did you not get in?
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hello isci
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