HSSP Fall 2008
Course Catalog

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Computer Science Hobbies
Liberal Arts Mathematics

Welcome to the Fall HSSP catalog! MIT students are fairly last-minute with their planning, so this catalog will be changing through September 7th. We expect to end up with about 18 subjects.

In the meantime, please sign up for any classes you are interested in; you can sign up for more than one course per time block, and indicate your order of preference by adding your favorite class first.

Note: Pre-registering does not guarantee enrollment in a class. By adding a class to your schedule, you're indicating your interest in that class. We will do our best to put you in the classes you want to take, and you will receive a schedule on the first day (Sep. 13) reflecting the classes you are actually registered for. Then, if you find a need to switch classes, you may do so by asking the directors in person.

Computer Science

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Scratch - An Introduction

Make games, stories, and animations using Scratch, a programming language for kids. No programming experience is necessary. The goal of the course is for you to make a project of your own that you are proud of. We *may* use some experimental features of Scratch that other users haven't used before.


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Blogging with Authority
Teachers: Ben Henry

Turn your interest in a subject or hobby–whatever it may be–into expertise with a topic-specific blog. You'll get a blog up and running, learn how to attract readers, and transform what you have to say (and how you say it) into a recognizable brand.

(Computer access will be required outside of class.)

Introduction to Photoshop Fundamentals and Techniques
Teachers: Vincent Lee

Photoshop is one of the most used graphics programs out there for everything from simple photo editing, to interface design, to scientific imaging, and on. However, many people find it very difficult to absorb all of the monolithic program which is Photoshop, understand every tool and effect, and learn its secrets. That is where this class comes in.

This class will cover numerous techniques and genres of Photoshop (art)work, starting with navigating around Photoshop (CS, CS2, or CS3), applying simple transformations, effects, and filters, creating composite images, hand-simulating effects, and will end with more advanced topics like interface design, heavy composites, and design ideology.

This is not a basics class, and will become quite advanced, but beginners will be able to follow the lessons.

A moderate understanding of how to use an end-user computer app. I would suggest bringing in your own laptop if possible, but doing so will probably not be needed. Other than those, simply a creative mind and an eager will to learn!

Creating Your Techno-biography
Teachers: Clement Chau

In this course students will explore a variety of new media tools and develop an interactive and visual biography of their lives as creative media makers.

Learn to develop remixes and mash-ups, design avatar characters and take your characters across platforms such as social-networking sites and the blogosphere. Make cool visualizations about your hobbies and neighborhood. Each week we will explore a different tool and use that tool to add to your techno-biography.

There are no pre-requisites for this course. I will include some pilot curricular activities that are being developed at CMS. Students will be invited to participate in a research study to provide feedback and share work with the instructor so that activities can be refined for future use. With permission from students, an observer will be present periodically to observe how these pilot curricular activities are being conducted and the results of these activities.

Magic: The Gathering

Learn how to play the oldest trading card game in the world!

Students will learn to play MTG through getting their own preconstructed deck

Star Wars Miniatures
Teachers: Graham Rogers

We will start by discussing the Star Wars Universe, and then the gameplay and mechanics of the Star Wars Miniatures Game. Students will learn how to play the game. Each student will receive a custom squad of miniatures to play with and keep, built around their favorite characters/faction (Rebel, Imperial, etc...) from the Star Wars Universe.

Experienced players may come, but will need to be patient as everyone else learns how to play.

Liberal Arts

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Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics
Teachers: A L

We do experience it all the time whether composing effervescent prose, talking with friends or framing political issues, the deep connections between linguistic structures and cognitive structures. We'll discuss a basic overview of concepts (such as prototypes, frames, conceptual metaphors and mental spaces) that elucidate these connections and try some applications.

The Chinese Artistic Experience
Teachers: Joan Chen, Fan Wei

Chinese art is not simply made up with brush painting, calligraphy, poems, and all those components you can name. It is, in a sense, one whole and unified experience--poems and poetic imagery worked into different forms of expression.

Please come with us to work on this project: to complete your own piece of Chinese brush painting complete with calligraphy along the side. Your work of art will be inspired by Chinese poems we will read in class. No Chinese language experience is required.

In this class, students will:
* experiment with Chinese paintbrush and watercolor
* read translated Chinese poems
* learn basic pin-yin (Chinese phonetic) and read a Chinese poem
* learn a few basic Chinese characters and write with a brush
* experience how different artistic forms come together in Chinese art


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Game Theory and Mathematical Puzzles
Teachers: Jacob Steinhardt

We will look at various games and other mathematical puzzles and come up with methods for solving them. Along the way, we'll develop various mathematical tools, including an introduction to rigorous proof (for example, to show that a given strategy that we think is best is actually the best strategy). Topics to be covered: Nim and other "take-away" games; proof by contradiction and strategy-stealing; introduction to graph theory; student-chosen topic.

Algebra I

The Fringes of Chaos
Teachers: Zandra Vinegar

The common theme throughout this class is dynamic complexity, or, in a word, chaos – the chaos of the Mandelbrot fractal, the chaos of the universe that increases infinitely with time, the chaos that marks the edge of the set of patterns comprehensible to the human mind. This class will be like none other you have ever seen, and I may as well have filed it under physics or liberal arts instead of mathematics. There will be many days when we are extremely rigorous — assignments which ask for mathematically presented proofs — and days when we can't be rigorous simply because the questions we will discuss are still unanswered by science and mathematics at large. We will cover, in depth, the concepts surrounding and intertwining between Fractals, Entropy, and Universal Symmetries. We will discover the connections between these ideas through lectures and projects which range from online mathematical applets to discussions about required reading material. Every week will be intense and will require the full participation of all students. Come with an open and inquisitive mind and the work ethic to support it!

The course has no real mathematical prerequisites but material does require significant mathematical maturity. Come prepared to think hard and abstractly! Also, this course IS a prerequisite for The Fringes of Chaos II class -- Computability and Continuum Systems, that I will be teaching this Spring.


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Special Relativity and Particle Physics
Teachers: Jacob Sanders

What does $$E = mc^{2}$$ really mean? Why can't anything travel faster than light? Is time travel possible? How are new particles discovered?

Following in the footsteps of Einstein, we'll embark on a careful study of special relativity. We'll cover time dilation, length contraction, Lorentz transformations, velocity addition, energy and momentum, and particle collisions. We'll discover that space and time are really weird, and we'll resolve many cool paradoxes. We'll then consider gravity, leading us briefly into general relativity and black holes. Finally, we'll conclude with particle physics; you'll learn the difference between bosons and fermions, quarks and leptons, and matter and antimatter.

I intend to be mathematically rigorous but, fortunately, a complete treatment of special relativity requires surprisingly few prerequisites.

Prerequisites: High-school algebra, trigonometry, and a physics course on basic Newtonian mechanics

For more information, including a syllabus, please visit the course website at <a href="http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~sanders/HSSP">http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~sanders/HSSP</a>.

MATLAB 101 -- Skills for the Modern Nerd
Teachers: Amrita Masurkar

MATLAB is a tool used by scientists and engineers to test algorithms, analyze data, and predict anything from fluid flow in a pipe to aircraft trajectories. In this class, you will acquire basic computer science concepts and write scripts to create models in several scientific areas including circuits, fluids, and biology.

A solid background in algebra.

Introduction to Classical Mechanics
Teachers: Lester Kim

Introduction to Newtonian mechanics: vectors, forces, energy, kinematics, dynamics, rotational motion, oscillations, gravitation, and various other topics

Knowledge of differential and integral calculus will be assumed. Other math such as multivariable calculus and linear algebra will be taught when required. Previous exposure to physics is not required.

Hands-on Observational Astronomy Full!

Introduction to hands-on astronomy. Learn about astronomical objects and find them yourself using 8" telescopes! Each class will consist of a classroom portion where you will learn about various astronomical topics, and an observation portion where you will learn to operate an amateur telescope to view objects in the night sky. Topics include: constellations, the Moon, planets, stars, star clusters, galaxies, telescope optics, CCDs, and how observation drives science in astronomy.

The course is currently planned for 3 hours on Saturday evenings (1 hour class, 2 hours observation). Precise hours will be scheduled on the first day of class based on student and instructor availability. The first day of class will be held at the regular scheduled HSSP time. There will also be an optional field trip to Wellesley observatory near the end of the term.

Algebra I and Geometry required. Knowledge of Algebra II (logarithms, trigonometry) useful but not required. Chief requirements: an interest in astronomy and a willingness to learn! Course intended for high-school students; advanced middle-school students meeting the prerequisites may contact the instructors to enter the class.

Biology and Astrobiology Full!
Teachers: Zandra Vinegar

Starting from the basic chemistry of cellular biology and the astronomy of stellar and planetary formation, I will, in class, build up the structure of life on Earth and the history of how it evolved. In parallel, I will introduce our best hypothesizes concerning the blueprints for life on planets with different properties than earth: more or less gravity, different atmospheric conditions, and/or exposure to different spectra or amounts of radiation.This research is know as Astrobiology: the interdisciplinary study of life in the universe, combining aspects of astronomy, biology and geology. Lecture topics will range from an introduction pf chemical biology (good for people preparing for AP bio) to the definition of life to types and life cycles of stars to the ecosystems found in high methane high heat undersea vents to the evolutionary history of whales to NASA's current predictions for life on undiscovered planets and the currently observed signs for past and present life on Mars.

This class is intended as a biology course for engineers, physicists, and mathematicians (or those of that mind set). You should be comfortable thinking about biology and chemistry as a complex network of physical processes, and should know what an atom is in the most general sense. You should also be insanely curious. Everything else - I will build from scratch.