Friday, August 26, 2005

Orientation and teaching the basics

The Library was involved more heavily in New Student Orientation this year (incoming First-Years and Transfer Students). We had a longer session, 30 minutes, all to ourselves. Overall it was a great success, though we certainly had some mixups.

It always gets me thinking about better ways to teach things, and I thought up a good metaphor for explaining Boolean searching. This would come after the "technical" explanation of combining sets.
Three Boolean operators go into a restaurant (no, really, this isn't a joke), AND, OR, and NOT. They want to order dessert. Here is the desert menu:
  • Strawberry shortcake (strawberries, cake, & whipped cream)
  • Chocolate eclairs
  • Chocolate covered strawberries
  • Fruit tart with blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries
  • Banana split with chocolate sauce and whipped cream
  • Fresh sliced mango
AND is very precise and orders "Chocolate AND Strawberries". OR is a greedy-guts and wants everything with "Chocolate OR Strawberries". NOT is allergic to strawberries and so orders "Chocolate NOT Strawberries".

What does each one get? (Remember, this is a restaurant and two people can get the same thing, and each person can get more than one dish.)

  • AND gets Chocolate covered strawberries
  • OR gets Strawberry shortcake, Chocolate eclairs, Chocolate covered strawberries, Fruit tart, and a Banana split
  • NOT gets Chocolate eclairs, and a Banana split
Extra credit question: Can AND and NOT share a dessert?
What do you think? Does it help explain AND, OR and NOT? Or does it just make you hungry?


Blogger Joy said...


It works for me, but I'm not the primary audience.

I fully intend to steal this, so be sure to post when you have more experience using it.


2:26 PM, August 26, 2005  
Blogger Rebecca Hedreen said...

Steal away! If you try it, please post your experiences, too.

At least this will make a more colorful and interesting set of graphics than "cat AND dog". Though I've been tempted to use the Budget "Do not pack cat and dog in same box."

4:26 PM, August 26, 2005  
Blogger bentley said...

"Remember the Gin and Tonic!"

12:38 AM, August 29, 2005  

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