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Details for MTH 312 Public Service Project

MTH 312: Public Service Project Information


The public service project is one of two extended projects that MTH 312 students can work on to demonstrate competence in the course. The primary objective of the public service project is:

Work with a small group of classmates to produce an artifact -- physical or electronic -- that teaches or informs the general public about one or more of the issues in the course.

This artifact could be almost anything. Here are some examples of artifacts that were created in past public service projects:

  • Comic strips and editorial cartoons about privacy
  • T-shirts about data security
  • Informational flyers about privacy concerns
  • 30-second TV commercials about wi-fi security

This project is all about creating, and creating something that teaches a lesson or makes people (that is, regular people who are not enrolled in the course) think.

Technically there is no medium that is off limits here, although you are encouraged not to simply write an essay about something. Be creative and make stuff! This is fun, remember?

Rubric for evaluation

The public service project is graded using the EMRF rubric described in the syllabus. The table below describes the criteria for these designations:

Mark Description
E The artifact has both a high level of quality and a high level of instructional value. It shows a distinguished level of impact, humor, cleverness, or artistic ability -- it's something that you remember, and whose lesson you remember, once you've seen it.
M The artifact is competently constructed and communicates a lesson or point clearly.
R The artifact is lacking in quality or the lesson or point being made is not clear.
F The artifact has not been completed.

Examples of "lacking in quality" could include the following:

  • In a video project, the audio is distorted or the video is blurry.
  • In a visual art project, the drawing is poor.
  • In a brochure or flyer, the ink is smudged on the paper, or the paper is damaged.

Please note that we are not judging the work on artistic quality as such. You are not expected to create a masterpiece; the webcomic xkcd makes brilliant points about many subjects, for instance, using only stick figures. We only want the final product to be the result of care and attention and not done by half-measures.

Timeline for completion

All of the following dates are on the course calendar; the descriptions next to them below give more detail as to what is supposed to happen on or before those dates.

  • Now: Think about an issue you'd like to address and a medium you might like to use, and talk with people you might like to work with.
  • Thursday, January 28: Select 1--2 other people in the class to form a project team. You will be working in groups of 2--3 (you plus the 1--2 other people). Groups of 4 or more are not allowed. Groups of 1 are allowed by permission only. On this date we will "lock in" the groups, and you and your group members should begin brainstorming ideas.
  • Thursday, February 4: Your team is to submit a short proposal (no longer than 2 pages) that describes what you plan on doing. You should talk about the medium you plan to use (a video, a song, a cartoon, etc.) and what your point or lesson is going to be about. You should also ask any questions you have, and if you have requests for things you'll need for your project (cameras, software, audio equipment, etc.) you should make those as well.
  • Week of February 8: I (Prof. Talbert) will be reading through your proposals and getting back with the team members with feedback and questions.
  • Week of February 29: Each team will be scheduling time to meet with me (Prof. Talbert) to discuss the progress of the Public Service Project. You'll be expected to have made some demonstrable progress on this project by this point. During this week we will also be meeting with teams about the Research Project, which is described in a separate document.
  • Week of April 4: Teams will be scheduling time to meet with me for a second round of progress check-ins on your projects. By this point it's expected that your team will be almost completely done with the project and you should have an early version of the artifact ready to show me. I will give some preliminary feedback on your work; the more you have to show me, the more detailed and precise that feedback will be.
  • Tuesday, April 19: Deadline for turning in the artifact that you are creating for the project. Your grade on the project will be determined before April 21; if there is an issue that would result in a grade of R or F, I'll notify you immediately and you can have until April 21 to make changes. However again please note that most serious issues can be avoided by having made appropriate progress by the second round of project report meetings.
  • Thursday, April 21: This is the last day of classes, and we'll take time to do a show-and-tell from each group about your projects.

Other Notes

  • Please consult the syllabus for information about academic integrity regarding both projects in the course. Some collaboration between teams is allowed, but only to a point. If you want to collaborate with another team beyond this point, talk to me -- in some cases this may be OK.
  • Generally speaking, you will not be allowed to change project teams or project topics once you have put in your group's proposal. However, life happens sometimes, and if you have a concern about your team or your project, please consult with me.
  • This project does not have a lot of rules governing it, and it would be preferable to keep it that way. So if you have a question or need clarification on anything, please ask.
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