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Computing in Science Education

The project aims at including computing as a natural tool for science and engineering students. Photo: Colourbox

About the project

This project is lead by the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science. CEMO contributes by developing assessments of computational thinking.


The goal of the CSE-project is to include computing as a natural tool for all science and engineering students from the first semester of their undergraduate studies. Not as a substitute for more traditional approaches, but as an extension of the classical toolbox.

Computer simulation has become such a fundamental tool in research and industry that it should be introduced to students in the first math and science courses.

Surprisingly, the use of computers to solve mathematical problems still has little impact on university education around the world, particularly on bachelor level.

Given today's dominance of numerical simulations among professionals, we think it is paramount to integrate numerical tools at all levels in the education system.

Our focus is to teach students how they can attack mathematical problems by using numerical methods and programming, and how they can explore the mathematical models through experimenting with programs. The pedagogical benefits are three-fold:

  • Programming helps to increase the “understanding” of the mathematical methods
  • Simulation with aid of programmes moves the attention from possible intricate algebra with pen and paper to a greater focus on problem formulation and physical behaviour of systems, i.e., “physical insight"
  • Numerical solutions allow much more realistic and inspiring problems to be addressed, and give students a taste of what research is about

A particular achievement of the CSE project in Oslo is that we have managed to implement the computer-based methods by modifying existing science courses, in contrast to the more common approach where modernization is taken care of in new "computational science" student programs with separate courses.

To summarize, CSE is about bringing the modern way of working with mathematical models from the professionals to the students, and the beginning students in particular.


Computations have always been an essential tool in the natural sciences, and the digital computer was originally developed for the purpose of scientific calculations. At most universities, the first computers were therefore obtained for specific scientific calculations. Read more about background and history.

How we do it

The CSE project has involved development of considerable amounts of lecture notes and other teaching materials, and many discussions on teaching related challenges. However, most of this would have little or even negative effect, if not accompanied by a couple of other initiatives. Read more about how we do it.


The project is funded by NOKUT.

Published May 4, 2017 3:45 PM - Last modified Feb. 1, 2018 9:11 AM