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I really enjoyed this cluster - I'm an art major and my NSA suggested I shouldn't take a cluster, but I'm so glad I did. The professors are kinda weird for this class but the TAs are generally really amazing - I had Aaron Walker and Amanda Robin - they were SO kind and helpful. The discussions/seminars were SO fun and interesting, highlights of my week. Professor Jewitt is insane and literally sympathized with Nazis during class it was insane, so be warned. The other lecturers were really great though however which was... refreshing. I really really enjoyed the material of this class, as I've always been interested in astronomy and evolutionary biology. I think if you're not really interested in these topics the class might be a little dense with not as much reward, but honestly I think it's impossible to not find this course incredibly interesting. The quizzes were a little annoying, but they weren't horrific and ultimately didn't weigh a ton. In the end, I really enjoyed the content and it was really nice to get my science units knocked out, I think this class is totally worth taking.
Super interesting class. Petigura is clearly very knowledgeable about the topics covered, and does a pretty decent job teaching the content. I would highly recommend this class for any incoming freshmen, especially if you are a humanities major and want to get your science GEs out of the way. The only tricky thing about the class is the quizzes, but if you pay attention in lecture and study a bit for them every two weeks you should do well.
Fall 22: Jewitt/Petigura/Friscia
Petigura's lectures were not the most interesting to me, and didn't make a lot of sense when I studied, but I eventually was able to understand it. He is a good lecturer and his quizzes are pretty easy once you study. Petigura's lecture on extrasolar planets is also especially interesting because of his involvement in it.
For full review of class plus more on Petigura, see my doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/15vILblHwWrnV7KnB-sOFzTRnQE2QPA7nmHxj4gdNKBU/edit?usp=sharing
My Cluster 70A and 70B professors were Petigura, Jewitt, Friscia, and Brown. This was my favorite class all three quarters. The topics of the evolution of the universe/galaxies/stars/planets/life/ecosystems were SO interesting. I would absolutely take this class again in a heartbeat. It has upended my life plan because now I am debating pursuing a career in astronomy/biology/ecology. Petigura was such a king -- we all loved him. He was SO intelligent and taught the toughest (conceptually) parts of the class. Somehow, he made the physics of the evolution of the nearly 14 billion year-old universe easy to grasp. There was astronomical/physics math involved for his quizzes, but if one pays attention in class, one can perform well on these quizzes. I would take this class again in a heartbeat.
I would highly recommend taking clusters for a number of reasons, but especially this one if you can. As a freshman in the quarter system, clusters (at least for the first two quarters) can help you find a strong group of friends in class that will stick even beyond the first few months of college, unlike many other classes at UCLA where you'll only meet some fleeting acquaintances. Also, completing this cluster series knocks out all your science GEs with almost no math involved! Petigura is a fire lecturer, and his subject matter (astronomy and the history of the universe) was some of the most interesting of my first year at UCLA. Be warned though, that some of the quizzes can be difficult, even if they are open-book. The quizzes also got harder once Jewitt started lecturing in the second half of the quarter. He's an eclectic and slightly weird professor himself, so be prepared for that when interacting with him. The final essay isn't too difficult, and you get all quarter to work on it, so no sweat there. However, grading of the paper each quarter depends on your TA, so get one you like and try to stick with them through the whole year. There is an annoying amount of busy work in 70A & 70B, but otherwise, I loved this class and you should take it if at all interested!
This class was great at the beginning because the material about the universe was very intriguing. However, as the quarter went on, the lectures became faster and faster paced and the quizzes became more math-heavy. In my opinion, some of the grading on the free-response part of the quiz was quite unfair due to their questions not being clearly asked/stated. I took this class because I am a non-stem major and this fulfills all of my requirements, so if not for this fact that I get 4 credits for 3 quarters, I would not continue in the cluster. The largest problem with this class was my TA. He was very unclear and had very specific, unrealistic requirements (that the other TAs did not have) for the large paper writing assignment that was 30% of our grade. He wasted much of the discussion class time talking about irrelevant material thus leaving us no time for the labs or discussing lecture material.
The material was pretty challenging as someone who does not care too much about science. I was able to manage to get an A but it took a lot of additional time to understand the material and comprehend what was going on. The labs were somewhat helpful but I felt that there was quite a bit of busy work especially with the readings.
70A was really fun! Topics were a little difficult to understand at first, but I got them once I rewatched the lectures on CCLE afterwards to prepare for the bi-weekly quizzes. Profs stayed behind for office hours after each lecture which was really helpful in understanding what we just learned from the lecture.