HSSP Spring 2008
Course Catalog

Filter Catalog by Grade:

Jump to Categories
Computer Science [Deprecated] Hobbies
[Deprecated] Liberal Arts Mathematics
[Deprecated] Performing Arts Science
Social Science

Computer Science

[ Return to Category List ]

Computer Science in a Nutshell
Teachers: Jeremy Smith

I plan on taking the coolest things I've learned as a Computer Science major and cramming them into this course. The class and I will select various topics to study from the following: Computer Architecture (how processors work), Software (coding, design), Electrical Engineering, Microcontrollers, Algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Take this class if you love computers and would like to learn more about how they work and what you can do with them.

programming experience, while not necessary, will help a lot; enthusiasm to learn about computers; willingness to ask questions and provide feedback

[Deprecated] Hobbies

[ Return to Category List ]

Audio and Speaker-building

You might be surprised at the quality of speakers you can build if you know what you're doing. Join us for a hands-on ride through the fundamentals of electronics and acoustics, and the process of loudspeaker design and construction. We will learn about the design and application of each piece of an audio system, most likely focusing on the speakers. With the aid of computer assisted measuring equipment, we will analyze the frequency response and distortion of speaker drivers, and understand their effect on what we hear. Then we design our own speakers - driver selection, crossover networks, and enclosure design - and build them in class! We will help you arrange to duplicate the class project or build any other audio equipment on your own.

Teachers: Roshini Zachariah

We'll be watching the whole Firefly series and ending with Serenity. At the end of each class, we'll discuss themes that Firefly presents, with emphasis on the distinction between the Outer Worlds and the Alliance and how that relates to the modern day political situation.

This class is intended for first time viewers of Firefly and Serenity.

The Crash Course Course 3
Teachers: Jordan Persson

The Crash Course Course is back by popular demand for more tricks, tips, and other prerequisites to being awesome. In this iteration, among other things, we'll make music (no skill required), learn how to influence other people, and maybe if you're all good, we'll blow some more stuff up.

Student comments about the previous Crash Course Courses include:
"This was one of the coolest Splash classes I have ever taken." - A student
"I learned lots of interesting factoids - loved it!" - Another student
"You're going to have to stop that now." - A campus police officer

A willingness to share your own knowledge and a reasonable level of maturity (If you can't show the latter, this may not be the class for you).

Crash Course in Rock: A Deeper Look
Teachers: Josh Bails

Returning from Splash for an extended run, Crash Course in Rock is for anyone interested in rock music, be you someone who wants to compare their concert track record with the teacher or someone who is just starting to discover music. The class will cover rock history from the 60s to now, concert details and stories (feel free to share your own) and a deeper look at select bands. Subject material each week will at least somewhat coincide with my weekly radio show at WMBR, with archived recordings available at the stations website. Feel free to stop by during Spark to get a feel for the class.

Interest in rock music.

[Deprecated] Liberal Arts

[ Return to Category List ]

Modern European History

Love blood and gore? Gossip and scandal? Then this is the class for you! This class is designed to give students a basic understanding of European History. It also aims to familiarize them with people and concepts, like Otto von Bismark or the Reformation, which are referenced in newspapers and books every day.
This class is for students who have not studied European History before. It is designed to be fast paced and educational, but still fun. Students will be asked to complete short homework assignments every week. We will not have time to study many topics in depth, but students will get a good overview of the rich history of Europe.
The course syllabus per week (subject to change) will be as follows
1. The Middle Ages and the Renaissance (day of Spark)
2. Reformation and the Wars of Religion
3. Absolutism and the Enlightenment
4. The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars.
5. Liberal vs. Conservative: Europe after the Napoleonic Wars
6. Industrialization, Unification and the Belle Epoch
7. The World Wars (Part I)
8. The World Wars (Part II)
9. Post-War Europe: The European Union and the Cold War
10. Round Table: Each student will represent a person from European History in a debate.

Science Fiction - Short Stories
Teachers: Josh Shaine

We will explore the world of tomorrow, or at least, yesterday's vision of it! We will wade through some of Harlan Ellison's brilliant anthology, Dangerous Visions, picking and choosing stories to read and discuss during the term.

A willingness to read short stories and discuss them is mandatory. Possession of the material we are reading will also make things easier, but I will take care of that part of it!


[ Return to Category List ]

Sequences & Series
Teachers: Robert Assaly

What comes after 1, 1, 4, 10, 28, 76? If you enjoy puzzles like this one, this course is for you. They are not just fun; they do lead to useful procedures for solving many math problems. We shall discuss how to solve equations by using sequences, obtaining square roots, examining the many facets of the Fibonacci sequence, the Golden Ratio, and Pascal's Triangle. Depending on the time available, we shall derive the formulas for the sine, cosine, and $$\pi$$.

Fun problems will be presented and solved throughout the course.

Knowledge of basic algebra. Enjoyment of mathematics.

"e" and the Complex Numbers
Teachers: Andrew Geng

$$e^{i\pi} + 1 = 0$$

So said Euler in 1748. This equation, considered by many as the most amazing equation ever, is known as "Euler's Identity".

Doesn't it disturb you a bit? Like, what does it even mean to raise something to an imaginary power? And what's so special about e anyway? It's not like 2.718 measures some elementary geometric ratio the way $$\pi$$ does, though the appearance of $$\pi$$ in there is spooky too.

We'll take a little trip into the wonderful world of complex analysis in an attempt to reach an understanding of this equation.

Familiarity with high school algebra (you should be able to use exponents, polynomials, and the sine and cosine functions) and some idea of what derivatives and integrals are.

The Mathematics of Physics-Based Computer Science

If you like cellular automata, transistor-level logic design, finite state machines, group theory, the principle of least action, lambda calculus, or control theory, you'll love this. I'm a student at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms working on next-generation computers by tossing out most of the properties you might attribute to computers, like having a central processor and a tiered memory. I want to involve YOU directly in this research over the coming weeks. I'll illustrate the history of this field, from von Neumann to Banks to Toffoli, touching on all manner of awesome math you may not have seen before, present my own work, and then finally, just have discussions about where to go next. If you have a really good idea and the stars all align, you might even be a coauthor on a published paper.

See http://hssp.davidad.net for more info.

If you're interested and excited, the rest will come. The more things I mentioned in the first sentence that you understand, the better, though.

Mathematical Problem Solving
Teachers: Beth Schaffer

Work individually and in groups on challenging math problems. We'll look at AMC, HMMT, ARML, etc. problems. Don't worry if you don't think you're very good or even if you've never heard of those acronyms. Most of the class will be spent problem solving, as opposed to taking formal lessons. Come prepared to learn, discover, and have fun!

Building Calculus
Teachers: Taylor Campbell

Often calculus is taught as a collection of symbolic methods for calculating derivatives and integrals. But the whys and wherefores of these methods are left as hand-waving `infinitesimals', and there is a rich array of mathematical ideas that we shall explore as we build the calculus not from infinitesimals but from basic mathematical objects such as sets and functions. This course is not about specific techniques to answer AP questions; instead, it will emphasize the meaning and physical intuition of ideas in calculus, and how to think about solving problems.

This class is open to any students with basic mathematical preparation in high school algebra, and some background in mathematical concepts like sets and functions. (The Talking Math course if taken concurrently would suffice neatly.) Calculus is not a prerequisite, but this class is also open to students who have taken calculus courses before; it is unlikely to resemble such courses offered at any high school!

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!

Teachers: Robert Assaly

Come learn how to solve these popular, challenging, and mind-enriching puzzles. Each class I shall pass out MIT's paper, the Tech, of the day before, which has a Sudoku puzzle, and I shall work on it along with you.

Please bring a black pen and a red pen. If you use correct procedures for solving SUDOKU puzzles, then you would not need an eraser.

Want to do other math puzzles as well? That's up to you. I can provide some OR you may present some yourself.

Experience with doing math puzzles, and a feeling of accomplishment at solving them.

Talking Math
Teachers: Taylor Campbell

Mathematics is a language for expressing ideas precisely. But novices to the language can be easily baffled by the maze of twisty formalisms and informalisms one finds in mathematical texts, and high school often leaves students thoroughly unprepared to study what mathematicians consider mathematics. This course will cover the basics of logic, sets, relations, functions, and the bizarrely elusive idea of numbers; the concept of infinity, infinite sets, and why you'll never hit a rational number on a dart board of real numbers; and all those funny words like lemma, theorem, corollary, proposition, and proof.

Familiarity with high school algebra

[Deprecated] Performing Arts

[ Return to Category List ]

Learn Dances from Different Countries
Teachers: Robert Assaly

For the Mind, Body, and Soul!
Learn about different cultures.
Get exercise.
All in one activity.
And it's fun too.
Put on your soft-soled shoes and come enjoy line, solo, and couple dances.
Experience not needed.
Partners not required

Ability to walk and run. Helpful if you can hop, skip, and jump.

Hoop Dance with Yoga
Teachers: Simone Klein

Hoop dance is the hottest exercise craze to hit the nation. It is not only good for your body–but you look amazing doing it. You might have seen “Hoopalicious” on “America’s Got Talent.” Now it is your chance to learn from one of Hoopalicious’ own students.

The class will start with a yoga warm up featuring the“Five Tibitian Exercises” (which will be taught) and a light stretch to some ambient music. Then, the students will pick up their hoops (which will be made by me and donated to each student), and learn the basic mechanics of hooping. How does one keep up the hoop? What does one do when the hoop starts falling? Why does the hoop keep on tilting? I will give each student personal attention to address their personal problems and strengths. Depending on the progress of the class, we will then work on walking with the hoop, turning with the hoop, hooping on one’s hand, and transferring between the two. Other tricks will be taught that will amaze and astonish viewers. An emphasis will be placed not only on technical aspects, but allowing oneself to feel the music and DANCE. The class will end with a jam session, allowing the participants to have fun and play around with their new found hooping skills.

By the end of the session, I hope that my students will understand the basics of hooping. We will work on spinning on the waist, hips, legs, neck, chest, and hands. The student should be able to focus less on spinning one's hoop to focus more on dance and expression. With the skills acquired in my class, I hope that my students will go out and spread hoopiness to their friends and family.

This class will be similar to the class that was taught for Splash last year, except for the expanded format will allow for more intensive teaching, and more time to practice between sessions.

Openmindedness and an ability to have fun. If you have taken my previous Hoop Dance with Yoga class, bear in mind that this class will cover much of the same material. I want to make sure that everyone starts from the same point with the foundations.


[ Return to Category List ]

Simplified spacecraft design and simulation
Teachers: Andrew Rader

The first class, held during Spark, will be The Solar System and Beyond.

After that, I will introduce spacecraft design concepts for robotic and human exploration missions.

Following, students will form groups to compete in a simulation based on real rocket science where you will design ships and send them on exploration, colonization, or combat missions. You will compete to be the first faction to terraform a world, build an interstellar colonization ship, or achieve space dominance.

This class will be very in depth and challenging, but will not require math skills beyond multiplication and division.

Spark class: -Introduction to the solar system (or permission from instructor).

Donut Spectroscopy: The Homer Simpson Guide to NMR
Teachers: Dwight Chambers

I don't care if you're interested in chemistry, physics, computer science, material science, biology or medicine - Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is for you!

One of the best things about NMR is that it is easily understood at various levels - from the superficial to the deep.

Homer Simpson might use NMR to study donuts, but we'll look at everything else.

No formal requirements -- a comfort with the idea of vectors and a willingness to learn.

Selected Topics in Genetics
Teachers: Dan Yuan

An introduction to genes and selected topics in genetics. We will begin by covering standard Mendelian genetics (pedigrees and Bayes Theorem); additional topics may include recombination and genetic mapping, bacterial genetics and gene regulation, and population genetics.

An understanding of basic high school biology is absolutely necessary. AP biology or equivalent knowledge is extremely helpful but not required. Students who have not yet taken an introductory high school biology course and are not currently enrolled in one are asked to come back later.

Introduction to Genetics

Introduction to genes and protein synthesis. We will be learning about discovery of genes, how genotype affects the phenotype, how proteins are responsible for these effects and how these proteins are synthesized from the DNA in the genes.

Selected Topics in Advanced Physics
Teachers: Kenan Diab

This course covers a wide variety of topics in physics beyond elementary mechanics and electrodynamics with the common theme that all results are rigorously derived from first principles, and mathematical formalism is emphasized. Students are advised to take the prerequisites seriously.

The precise content of the class is flexible, and can be influenced by students who take it. Planned topics include quantum mechanics, statistical physics, and astrophysics.

For Spark, a special double-length class about special relativity will be offered! Starting from the the postulates of special relativity, we derive the Lorentz transformations, introduce four-vectors, and discuss the geometry of space-time. Many consequences are discussed: time dilation, length contraction, relativistic dynamics, etc. Space-time diagrams and paradoxes are also covered.

Having an understanding of first-year mechanics and electricity/magnetism is critical. Ideally, students should be comfortable with the material on the AP Physics C syllabus, but less experience is acceptable. A strong command of geometry and pre-calculus is also expected. Knowledge of calculus and linear algebra is helpful and will illuminate some topics in greater detail, but not required.

Interesting Tidbits of Pharmacology (or All About Drugs)
Teachers: Zak Fallows

Did you know that Viagra might reduce jet lag, or that the chemical warfare agents BZ and VX nerve gas are mutual antidotes for one another? Would you be surprised to hear that there is a narcotic painkiller ten thousand times more potent than heroin? This class will explain these fascinating pharmacological tidbits and many more, including topics like SSRI antidepressants and ADHD medications. Students will learn the foundations of pharmacology, including how drugs work, what they do, and why they are so interesting.

There will also be brief chemical demonstrations that have very little to do with pharmacology during some of the classes. Things will blow up, burn, freeze, and change colors.

*Please note* This class is full, but if you really want to take it you should email me (click on my name above) and I will put you on a waiting list. You should also come to one of the Spark sessions. Don't get your hopes up, I can't make any promises, but you will enjoy the Spark session even if you don't get into the ten-week class.

A History of Life on Earth
Teachers: Susan Shepherd

From the Creation of the Known Universe to Ancient Rome, this course follows the evolution of life from the beginning to the present. In this class we will look at different kinds of animals, how they developed, and what makes them interesting.

The class breakdown will be as follows:
First Class: The Start of Everything through the Cambrian Explosion. Second Class: The Paleozoic Era. Third Class: The Mesozoic Era I. Fourth Class: The Mesozoic Era II. Fifth Class: The Cenozoic Era I. Sixth Class: The Cenozoic Era II. Seventh Class: Recent Developments. Eighth Class: The Dawn of Man. Ninth Class: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Civilization. Tenth Class: The Modern Day.

Where appropriate, side issues will be explored, including unusual or "weird" animals (platypus, echidna), fossil dating techniques (or "how do we know all this, anyway?") and the impact of natural disasters such as asteroid / comet strikes and vulcanism. Student questions are welcome; if students want to focus on particular aspects of life, time will be set aside at the beginning of the next lecture to cover that material.

Social Science

[ Return to Category List ]

Cognitive Bias: What you think is right is WRONG!
Teachers: Sophia Suarez

Cognitive bias is distortion in the way humans perceive reality. Biases arise from various aspects of life and without realizing it, you might be guilty of bias in your thoughts and actions.

Join me to explore the various cognitive biases (decision making & behavior, social, probabilities and memories) and discover how they are affecting belief formation, business decisions and scientific research.

Very interactive and fun! Lots of opportunities to win prizes! Of course, don't forget the games you will play, the puzzles you will solve and the mystery cases you will crack! What are you waiting for?!

Some psychology knowledge is useful but definitely NOT required! Lots of enthusiasm and a willingness to participate in class discussions can be helpful.

Introduction to the Theory of Positive Disintegration
Teachers: Josh Shaine

Boy! With a title like that, this description had better be good! Have you ever wondered why things that matter to you don't seem to matter to others? Does injustice bother you in an almost physical way? Have you ever complained about the feel of a fabric that everybody else thinks is fine? Do you find yourself knowing how you *ought* to behave, but knowing/dreading that you never will live up to your ideals? We will look at Dr. Kazimierz Dabrowski's Theory, compare it with some other theories, and discuss how it applies to our lives and what to do about it.

This class may be recorded.

Willingness to think and examine. Some complex reading will be involved.

Eureka! A historical and cultural discovery of California
Teachers: Kyle Fritz, Rishi Gupta

With a rich and varied history and culture, California, the 31st state, has attracted countless millions to its great land. From the first Native Americans to the Spanish missionaries to the gold seekers to the movie stars, many have called California home. And why is California so attractive to those who seek it out? Come and find out as you examine its vibrant past and present! Discuss its days as a Mexican territory; experience the adventure of its wild west lifestyle; be awed by its magnificent and breathtaking landscapes; travel the famed Route 66; enjoy its fruits and other agricultural gifts; participate in one of the world's ten largest economies; relax in its idyllic climate; live the Californian life. Students will be taught a large selection of themes and events related to the State of California and take part in in-class projects. No previous knowledge on California is necessary, but all are welcome to share any experiences and opinions they might have.