HSSP Spring 2010
Course Catalog

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Engineering Humanities
[Deprecated] Math & Computer Science [Deprecated] Science

Spring HSSP will run Saturdays, April 17 - May 15. We have released the classes students have been accepted to. If the word "Enrolled" is in front of the class title, you have been accepted to that class. Student check-in will be on the first day (April 17), at 9:00, in room 5-232..

See What Classes You're in For Summer HSSP!


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ASTRONAUT SCHOOL for Middle Schoolers
Teachers: Hemant Chaurasia

Did you know that the first human that will walk on Mars is probably a middle-schooler today? Maybe it's... you!

The Astronaut Corps needs you and there's a lot to learn: rocket science, aeronautics, space history, a grand tour of the Universe, space systems engineering, astronaut survival skills, and even the prospect of alien life on other worlds!

Astronauts are multi-talented people: physicists, engineers, biologists, communicators, astronomers, pilots, poets and pioneers all rolled into one. As a trainee in my class you'll learn science, math, engineering and communication skills that form the foundation of cutting edge real-world Space Exploration. Not to mention, there'll be a whole lot of fun, inspiring and just plain cool stuff along the way! To cap it all off, in the final class you’ll get to meet a real NASA astronaut, Professor Jeffrey Hoffman, who flew in space 5 times on the Space Shuttle and helped save the Hubble Space Telescope!

So come and make your first small step towards your future "one giant leap": sign up for ASTRONAUT SCHOOL!

No prerequisites. Just an elementary school science and math background, and a willingness to learn and have fun!! If you have already taken my ASTRONAUT SCHOOL for Middle Schoolers class last year, feel free to take it again as the course has been significantly updated with new content and activities. (Only about 1/3 of the class will be the same as last year and there are major new items this year including the Aeronautics topic, optional extension exercises, online videos, and Astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman’s visit.) Refer to the Course Syllabus handout for more details about the contents and learning objectives of this course.

Rickshaw Design and Assembly

Have you ever ridden a cycle rickshaw? Do you even know what one is? (Take a look here: http://mit.edu/atalsma/Public/ricpic.jpg ). The goal of the class will be to re-design and build a cycle rickshaw completely from scratch. Woah!

Should it be designed for moving college students' junk (a business?) Should it have power radios, lights, or cell phones on the side? Its up to you to decide!

Some MIT students brought rickshaw parts back from India, and have some crazy design ideas but are too busy to do it on their own, and are looking for some help from very creative and motivated students who want to make something that will blow people's minds! (Careful, you may learn how fun math and physics can be when its applied to rickshaws.)

Please note: There will be use of power tools and shop tools. Please fill out the permission slip and bring it to class.

This class will be taught by members of the MIT D-Lab community.

Creative, motivated. Interest in engineering design as a lifestyle. Good team-player.


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The Music Class You've Never Taken
Teachers: Russell Cohen

Have you ever wondered why that new pop song seems to be permanently stuck in your head? Why you can make a 'p' sound, but a cello can't? This class will start with a brief introduction to theory, then rapidly branch out into a number of topics seldom touched in traditional music classes. Topics will include: Why you are still humming that Taylor Swift Song: A Theoretical Analysis of Pop music; Speaking in Tongues: The Physics of Sound formation; Resonance: Human hearing and sound perception, indoor acoustics, and why Yo-Yo Ma's cello costs 2.5 Million Dollars; Music of the extreme: Cage, Reich, Ligeti et al, The Coolest Scale You've (probably) never heard of: Alternative Scales and Tuning Systems, and more... More topics may be added based on the interest of students in the class.

Strong interest in music, with some basic theory (key signatures, etc). We will make brief forays into theory, but much of the class will be theory free. An AP Harmony Level student would be comfortable with all theory covered, but a background of that sophistication is not necessary. A basic understanding, or a strong desire to understand Physics concepts, specifically waves and vibrations is a must.

Life Lessons from Dr. Seuss
Teachers: Jessica Huang

Join us as we revisit the imaginative tales of the celebrated children's book author, Theodor Geisel (pen name Dr. Seuss). Learn to appreciate the historical context behind his stories, as well as the life lessons embedded in them. The Lorax holds a powerful tale about the environment, while The Sneetches is about racial equality. Did you know that Horton Hears a Who is actually an allegory about American occupation in post-war Japan? What does The Cat in the Hat have to do with changing the way we think about education? Come find out! We will use these books and others to launch us into open discussions about different issues we face today and brainstorm ways we can address them.

An open mind and the willingness to try green eggs and ham (vegetarian options available)

How Language Works
Teachers: Avril Kenney

This class will be an introductory overview of linguistics. Topics covered each week will probably be:
Phonology - how sounds form speech
Morphology - how morphemes form words (e.g., "dog" + "-s" = "dogs")
Syntax - how words form sentences
Semantics - how sentences have meanings
Acquisition - how babies learn language

Weekly World News
Teachers: Roshini Zachariah

Do you know who Ben Bernanke is? Do you hear "tea party" and think sandwiches?

This will be a lecture series on current events, politics and the WORLD.

An inquiring and open mind.

Macbeth: the Fast-Fowarded Edition
Teachers: Diyang Tang

Like how you can skip through video and see images zip through three times faster? Hate that it will never happen in real life? Well, you might never see a tale about dastardly intrigue, the supernatural, and Scottish forests rushed through on stage, but at least you can read and analyze Macbeth on high speed. This class will go through and discuss the play in five weekends, so you better hold on tight.

Interest in Macbeth, reading, analyzing, and discussing highly encouraged. Please don't take this class if you have a good background in Macbeth already.

Writing Workshop: Fantastical Fiction

Is your imagination fantastic? Do you make up stories about magic, or spaceships, or magical spaceships?

In this class we will do some reading, some discussion, and lots of writing. We will learn about how the fantastic has dominated popular literature, from Mary Shelley to Charles Dickens to Harry Potter. We will also talk about the role of genre in writing, and how people like Michael Chabon and Neal Stephenson have made toeing the line between the fantastic and the real cool again.

Most importantly, this class is focused on you and your writing. The best way to improve your writing is to write a lot, and to discuss your work with other people. So be prepared to write!

Facebook-Stalking Before Facebook: Looking Into the Lives of Ordinary People Full!
Teachers: Stephen Tsai

Ever wonder what that really attractive person in your Math class does for fun? Or what that really shy classmate's family is like?

Human beings have a natural curiosity to learn more about the lives of our fellow humans. Nowadays, we can just log onto Facebook or MySpace to satisfy our curiosity. But before Facebook, people read human interest stories.

In this class, we will read short articles and stories about the lives of ordinary people. What are their lives like? What makes them tick? What is an ordinary person? Are you ordinary? Why do we care about other peoples' lives? We'll discuss these questions and more.

(If there is sufficient interest, there is the possibility of some creative non-fiction writing.)

An open mind. A desire to learn more about the lives of ordinary people.

How to Question Everything and Argue with Everybody

In this course, we will teach you how to think logically, spot mistakes, formulate opinions and change those opinions in the event of new information. This should allow you to rationally carry on (and win) a debate or argument about any issue while avoiding common fallacies.

Light reading and research will be assigned as homework -- nothing that should take more than 30 minutes a week!

You must be comfortable with speaking in front of your peers. The art of debating requires both your brain and voice!

[Deprecated] Math & Computer Science

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Generating Functions
Teachers: Arvind Thiagarajan

We will begin with a review of combinatorics. Then, with problems in recursion as motivation, we will begin to explore the topic of generating functions. These functions (which are described briefly enough on wikipedia) are the single most powerful tool with which to attack combinatorics problem, and once you get to use them, you will come to love the powerful feeling you get wielding them. We will be covering material mostly from Herbert Wilf's book, Generatingfunctionology.

Combinatorics and Calculus. You want to have had a reasonable exposure to both subjects. Functionally, calculus is more useful for the course; however, combinatorial reasoning will be highly useful.

Unsolved Problems in Mathematics

Wait, what? There are math problems that baffle even the best minds of our time? Yes. This class is all about looking at these problems and understanding what they're all about.

We'll start the class out by looking at Fermat's Last Theorem which is a classic example of a problem that baffled mathematicians for hundreds of years. It only just got solved in 1995! We also expect to go over a handful of other problems (all still unsolved) including the Riemann Hypothesis, Goldbach's Conjecture, the twin prime conjecture, and P vs NP.

Algebra, Pre-calculus

HTML, CSS and Javascript Full!
Teachers: Victor Costan

Do you want to build the next killer Web site? Make a custom theme for your blog? Tell the world about yourself, your family, your band or your club?

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the technologies that the Web runs on. Gaining a solid understanding in them will help you do all the above, and more!

This course teaches modern HTML, CSS and JavaScript, with an emphasis on proper use for each of the languages.

Basic computer skills (text editing, Web browser usage) are needed for the entire course. Programming experience is needed for the JavaScript section, and may facilitate understanding the CSS section. An honest desire to learn the material will be instrumental in navigating the difficult parts of CSS and JavaScript.

Symmetry and the Complex Plane
Teachers: Sachi Hashimoto

The complex plane, the plane that consists of all imaginary numbers, is really a sphere when you patch up a little hole in it. And we can describe functions on the complex plane as movements of the sphere, turning complex algebraic formulas into simple geometric explanations. This class will study some of these movements of the sphere. We'll talk about the mathematics turning a circle inside-out, and pairing two circle and turning them both inside-out at the same time. We'll find some weird symmetry and many beautiful images along the way.

It would be helpful to already know what the complex plane is and to have taken some sort of precalculus course. Knowledge of inverse functions and f(x) notation are good. Trigonometry will also be very useful.

What Makes a Programming Language?
Teachers: Drew Atkin

Have you ever wondered how your favorite programming language works? This course will cover the theoretical foundations of programming languages and the basic architecture of the computers their programs run on. Then we'll take a look under the hood of some popular languages like Java, Python, Javascript and Scheme. We'll investigate the interplay between language design and implementation techniques, and hopefully become better programmers in the process!

There's a lot of interesting ground to cover so I'll do my best to cover the topics you, the students, are most interested in.

Programming experience (knowledge of basic data structures like lists and tables) and a passion for learning how things work are a must.

From zero to infinity .... and beyond!

Learn what numbers really are. In this class, we will start with nothing (literally nothing) and construct (sometimes rigorously, sometimes not) the natural numbers $$\mathbb{N}$$, the rationals $$\mathbb{Q}$$, the reals $$\mathbb{R}$$, and multiple types of infinity (for those of you nerds out there, $$\aleph_0, 2^{\aleph}$$). But we won't stop there.... then we'll use these infinities to do more interesting math!! This class will draw on principles of set theory, analysis, logic, and combinatorics to walk through some of the most taken-for-granted mathematical properties of the universe.

None. We'll start with literally nothing, so no knowledge required!

Become a LaTeX Guru
Teachers: Jason Gross

LaTeX is typesetting language that can be used to make fancy formulas look beautiful. LaTeX is also a Turing complete programming language that can be used to do just about anything you want it to!

I intend for this class to be mostly exercise driven; I will give out one or more exercises each lecture, teach you a few of the basic concepts or point you to useful resources, and spend the rest of the time helping you do the exercises.

In the first class, I will teach you the basics of LaTeX. The exercise sheet will have exercises of all levels, from easy to diabolical (so all experience levels are welcome).

The topics of the remaining four weeks will vary, and requests are welcome. Do you want to know how to make pretty bibliographies? Draw pretty pictures in LaTeX? Make LaTeX do your math homework for you? Have LaTeX typeset as many lines of Pascal's Triangle as you tell it to? Write your own package (so you can \usepackage{my-package})? Write a replacement for the article document class, so that LaTeX makes your pages look however you want them to? Get LaTeX to do things that it was never meant to do (like search the Internet for you, or become your favorite programming language (albeit slower))? I can help you figure out how to do all of these things, and more, if you attend my class! Come learn just how powerful LaTeX is!

Computers will be provided.

You should have tried to install LaTeX on your computer by the first class, and have it installed by the second ( http://www.tug.org/protext/ for Windows, http://www.uoregon.edu/~koch/texshop/ for Mac, and http://www.tug.org/texlive/ with http://kile.sourceforge.net/ for Unix; if you need help, email me at M3343-teachers@esp.mit.edu). You should have created and attempted to typeset at least one document (which must contain at least one character of text) by the first class, and done so successfully by the second class (http://tug.ctan.org/tex-archive/info/lshort/english/lshort.pdf will help if you've never done this before, and so will I if you email me). You must be willing to work hard and discover things for yourself. I'll be there to help you if you get stuck, and point out what help files will teach you how to do what you want to do, but I'll expect you to read the help files, and discover how the command you want works, for yourself.

SUDOKU - Here's your Chance to Teach
Teachers: Robert Assaly

For each class, I'll hand out a SUDOKU.
The first person who solves it I'll ask to come up to the front and show the class how he or she did it. If needed, I'll show you how I would solve it myself.

I'll have both easy and hard SUDOKUs (it's all relative) and, depending on the progress of the class, we shall deal with either or both.

Please bring either a pencil or a black and red pen.

Know the rules and has had practice for solving SUDOKUs.

[Deprecated] Science

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Hunting for Extra-Solar Planets
Teachers: Rebekah Dawson

Who will discover the next planet around another star? It may be you! Unlike projects like Folding@Home or SETI@Home designed by scientists who want to use your computer to crunch their data, the world's premier planet hunting team at Lick Observatory wants to use your brain. Come learn how astronomers combine the celestial mechanics developed by Kepler and Newton with data from the latest telescopes and NASA missions to discover planets around other stars. You will receive all the training you need to use the Systemic Console -- a free piece software developed by astronomers at Lick -- to search for new extra-solar planets by analyzing radial velocity measurements.

High school trigonometry required. High school physics recommended.

Introduction to Neuroscience
Teachers: Greg Hale, Manjae Kwon

The brain is a dynamic circuit of millions of neurons connected to one another. At this very moment, many of them are currently rewiring themselves to process this sentence you are reading. What is learning? This class will invite you to learn about a process that is essentially responsible for what you remember, what you know and who you are. We will learn about the basic neuroscience behind the process of learning, as well as discuss recent research and how this applies to current events.

Interest in how the brain works. Introductory level of Biology

Synthetic Biology

Synthetic biology is a new and exciting field of genetic engineering, with scientists designing new organisms to make medicines, fuels, and all kinds of other stuff. In this course we'll learn how to cut and paste DNA, what scientists are doing in labs around the world today, what the future of synthetic biology might look like, and design our own organisms.

Students should have a basic knowledge of molecular biology (DNA, RNA, and proteins) and an enthusiasm for what biology can do and might be able to do in the future.

The Earth is a Big Magnet
Teachers: Aaron Scheinberg

As you read this, you are in Earth's global magnetic field. Thousands of kilometers above you, it is protecting you from deadly solar radiation. Thousands of kilometers below you, the field is being maintained by complex flow patterns in the Earth's core. Every few hundred thousand years, the field temporarily weakens, then reverses direction, for reasons we don't fully understand.

This course is an introduction to the nature of geomagnetism, one of the coolest problems in science today. We will focus on the following:

Basics of Earth's magnetic field and how we know
Applications to geology
Source of the field - dynamo action (including a crash course in electromagnetism and fluid mechanics)
Magnetic fields in extraterrestial bodies
Polarity reversal
Aurorae, the northern (and southern) lights

Exceptionally awesome:
- No prior knowledge needed
- Lots of cool demonstrations
- We will take a tour of an MIT laboratory!!

Algebra and basic physics are advised but hey, what's the worst that could happen!

Fascinating Science Phenomena
Teachers: Roshini Zachariah

A lecture series on various phenomena in science.

Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Full!
Difficulty: Hard - This class may be exceptionally difficult

This course introduces you to basic concepts of modern biology. In this class we will study various topics including DNA replication, protein synthesis, gene expression mechanisms, and recombinant DNA techniques. In addition, we will also discuss more modern issues including stem cells and gene therapy.

No prerequisites are required.


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Party Tricks and Practical Jokes

Need to impress that totally cute (choose one: girl, guy) or get (choose one: her, his) attention in a pathetically juvenile manner? Or just want to learn some cool tricks and be SO SUP3R H42DC023? We can help you to cleverly exploit the mechanics of exploitable mechanics in clever ways, from toss and contact juggling to mind tricks and mental feats to opening food packaging in creative ways.

Drawing, Design and Creative Strategies (BEGINNER) Full!
Teachers: Nathan Cooke

Learn some basic sketching techniques so you have the tools to draw almost anything. Then use those skills do design your own product. Finally, learn some simple strategies for creating unique and interesting ideas.

This class will provide you with a basic skill set that can be used to design products for engineering and aesthetics, entertainment design for movies, and much more!

This course differs from the Advanced version in that anyone can and is encouraged to join. Now is your chance to learn to draw!

A positive attitude!

Intoduction to Hipster Culture
Teachers: Justin M

Urban Outfitters, skinny jeans, Animal Collective, and other hipster icons have become major aspects of the mainstream American lifestyle. Together we will study just how Hipsters came to be, what exactly being a Hipster entails, and where the culture might be going.

While not required, it is recommended that students be somewhat familiar with Urban Outfitters and Animal Collective.

Drawing, Design and Creative Strategies (ADVANCED)
Teachers: Nathan Cooke

Learn some basic sketching techniques so you have the tools to draw almost anything. Then use those skills do design your own product. Finally, learn some simple strategies for creating unique and interesting ideas.

This class will provide you with a basic skill set that can be used to design products for engineering and aesthetics, entertainment design for movies, and much more!

This ADVANCED course is for students who feel they have a good deal of experience in drawing skills. It is recommended you bring some samples to the first class meeting.

Party Tricks and Practical Jokes

Need to impress that totally cute (choose one: girl, guy) or get (choose one: her, his) attention in a pathetically juvenile manner? Or just want to learn some cool tricks and be SO SUP3R H42DC023? We can help you to cleverly exploit the mechanics of exploitable mechanics in clever ways, from toss and contact juggling to mind tricks and mental feats to opening food packaging in creative ways.

Intro to Magic The Gathering Full!

This class is designed to teach students how to play Magic
the Gathering. On the first day students will be divided into
two groups an advanced group and a beginner group.