HSSP Spring 2011
Course Catalog

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[Deprecated] Science Miscellaneous

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A4488: HSSP Symphonic Band Closed!

The HSSP Symphonic Band is a course designed to challenge students ranging from middle school level to advanced high schoolers.
Music ranges from classical to modern day movie soundtracks!
This class will go over a variety of subjects that will advance and polish students techniques.
As a final for this class, the students will put on a final concert to show how far they have come!

Any students who play more than one instrument please make note of what other instruments you play!

As of now the Symphonic Band will be accepting String Instrumentalist into the group! So feel free to join :D

All students signing up for this class should have at least basic knowledge of the instrument(s) they will be playing with the group.

A4489: HSSP Concert Choir Closed!
Difficulty: *

The HSSP Concert Choir welcomes vocalist from the middle school to advanced high school levels.
This class will be taught songs ranging from classical to modern culture as well as music in foreign languages.
Students will be covering a variety of knowledge on advancing and polishing their vocal techniques.
At the end of this class, as a final students will be performing a concert to show the hard work and effort that they have put into the class.

The only prerequisite asked is that students have sang before, whether it be in a state choir, or just in their car.

A4502: Introductory to Intermediate Poi - Feeling The Flow
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Nathan Lachenmyer

Poi is a performance art that combines dance and juggling into a single art form. Performers spin weights leashed to their hands in circular patterns to create breathtaking geometric patterns that appear to defy the laws of physics.  If this sounds fun, this class is for you!

This class teaches the basic elements of spinning poi and how to combine them into new exciting patterns!  This class aims to teach students how to *think* about poi, rather than teaching patterns.  Students of all levels are welcome, from students that have spun poi before and are looking for new moves to students that have never heard of poi before!

None! A desire to learn poi and willingness to put in practice time outside of class will make your experience a lot more fun, though!


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E4503: Reverse Engineering Full!
Difficulty: **

Do you wonder what exactly makes a watch tick? How a camera manages to advance film, focus, zoom, and capture an image? How a hard drive spins and stores large amounts of information in a small amount of space?

So do we!
Join us in the process of Reverse Engineering -- Learning about how stuff works by taking it apart and looking at the pieces. Every class we will take apart at least one new product, culminating in a student-chosen final product.


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H4485: The Mail (The art and craft of letter writing) Full!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Spring Greeney

Dear someone considering this class,

Why send a letter when you can call, text, email, chat, tweet, or message instantaneously? What makes a handwritten note memorable, a thank you card heartfelt, a piece of post personal, or a business letter professional?

This is a non-fiction creative writing class with a correspondence twist: you get to specify your audience. You get to specify your medium. You get to tell your story or apologize for your mistake or confess your love. I'll get to help guide you through the art and craft of letter writing, the weirdness that is communication, and the mysterious backroom landscape of the local post office.

Why? Because I think letters are a unique and enduring form of self expression. And I think you will, too.

Yours, earnestly,



H4484: Japanese Culture: Traditional Meets Modern

What is it like in Japan? What makes the Japanese tick? Before you can really understand a people, you have to have some idea of what their daily lives are like. What their traditions are, their beliefs, and their way of looking at the world. This class will explore the daily lives of the Japanese. Part lecture, part demonstration, and part workshop, you will get a chance to learn about many aspects of Japanese culture, both traditional and modern, including Japanese fashion, performing arts, education, cuisine, as well as cultural arts such as tea ceremony and ikebana (flower arrangement).

Participation in the workshop component is not required, you are more than welcome to just watch and learn. Please note also that supplies are limited, so depending on class size not every student may be able to participate in the workshop section.


H4482: An Introduction to French Language and Culture Closed!
Teachers: Chris Hunt

A course for absolute beginners. We'll learn the basics and how to survive if you ever find yourself in France.

Be an absolute beginner.

H4477: US History 1945-Yesterday Full!
Teachers: Justin M

It's the US History you don't really learn in school and its 10x funner than APUSH [I hope].

Cars, Space, Kennedy, Disco, Vietnam, Ferris Bueller, Vanilla Ice, Clinton and the Internet- 40 years in a few weeks...impressive right?


H4475: Intergroup Dialogue
Teachers: Mona Elminyawi

Intergroup Relations is a nationally recognized program of the University of Michigan that “works proactively to promote understanding of intergroup relations inside and outside of the classroom.” In its Intergroup Dialogue course, undergraduate students are brought together to share experiences related to their diverse backgrounds. Although it was created for college students,it is never too early to start educating people about issues of multiculturalism and diversity. This class will provide a safe space for high school students to explore the ways multiculturalism affects their everyday lives and engage in thoughtful dialogue.

It is important for us to be able to both express our unique selves and rationalities, and allow others to do the same. We will find that communicating our beliefs, values, and interests with fellow students, colleagues, and friends can be extremely beneficial. It can even be a lot of fun!

Most readings will be done in class, but students can expect to have some take-home readings.

H4516: Introduction to Doing Philosophy Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Sophie Monahan

Philosophy is not a spectator sport. This class combines lectures, discussion, and mini-activities to introduce you to a variety of important problems in philosophy. This class is especially intended for people who are seriously interested in philosophy but have little formal experience. Be ready to think critically and analyze arguments, to challenge your assumptions, and to wrap your mind around things you never thought about before. From ethics and defining 'goodness', to to the nature of personal identity, to the physics of space and time... welcome to philosophy.

H4501: How to Win Friends and Influence People Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Christopher Luna

How To Win Friends and Influence People (HSSP)
Category: Humanities, Social Science, Natural Science, Life Science

Welcome to the HSSP version of How to Win Friends and Influence people! Based on positive feedback from the SPLASH version of this class, this course includes and extends all information from the SPLASH class.

How to Win Friends and Influence People (HSSP) is a multidisciplinary course that focuses on how people interact. The course's namesake is an 70 year-old book by Dale Carnegie which highlights basic techniques in handling people. Techniques that help you make friends, that help you persuade, and that help you be a leader. This course does that AND MORE.

Over 8 weeks you will be shown, you will guided, and you will master knowledge about people and relationships that will help you:

* Know what to say in sensitive or heated situations.
* Understands emotions, where they come from, and ways to control them.
* Appear more attractive to others
* Become friends with anyone
* Succeed as an effective leaders in business and academia
* Help friends and loved ones overcome difficult emotions
* Avoid and overcome social and emotional pitfalls and obstacles
* Explain and understand the physical, scientific basis behind nearly all of the information presented in this class. (Basic neuroscience and neuroanatomy)

And finally, you wil have constructed a toolkit of interpersonal tools for working with people for the rest of your life.

This class is intended to be mostly discussion based with some lecturing for information. Stories will be told and books will be referenced. All notes and book references will be available online.

The only homework required in class is a weekly assignment to note observations or to note personal applications of the skills discussed in class. These small writing assignments of about 1 or 2 quick paragraphs and are intended to take less than 45 minutes.

No required prerequisites. Chemistry and biology are helpful, though.

H4496: Dreams and Dreaming Closed!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Carol Hardick

Dreams have been described as the doorway to the unconscious. But do we understand what we dream, or why? In deep sleep, we recreate our past memories; do we also dream and create the future? Are our dreams trying to tell us something? We’ll compare the theories put forth by philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists and storytellers. We’ll discuss the brain and the science of dreaming and thinking, including the philosophical theories of where dreams and knowledge come from. Discussion will include Einstein, Freud, Carl Jung, Artemidorus and Edgar Cayce. During the last two sessions students will hold a Dream Council, using what you have learned to interpret the dreams of your fellow classmates.

Each class will include examples of dream imagery in famous art and music, with special attention to oneiric filmmaking. By the end of the course you will be able to identify archetypical images and metaphors in dreams, music, art and film. Using film theory you'll learn to reflect on the quality of a film's oneiric imagery, auteurism and cinematography. Recent movies to be shown will include Avatar and Inception and may include classics by Ingmar Bergmann, Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky and Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.

We discuss many topics you may never have considered or debated, it's a lot of fun and I hope you join us.

Please refer to the syllabus for more details and a list of films. See you in class!

There are no pre-reqs

[Deprecated] Math & Computer Science

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M4474: Introduction to Differential Equations Closed!
Difficulty: Hard - This class may be exceptionally difficult

Differential equations are mathematical equations whose solutions provide insight to many of nature’s laws. They are fundamental to many disciplines in science and engineering. In this course we will be studying ordinary differential equations (ODE’s), which deal with functions containing one variable. Topics covered in this course include: techniques for solving ODE’s, variation of parameters, input-response models, complex numbers and exponentials, homogenous and inhomogenous DE’s, stability, simple harmonic oscillators, direction fields, integral curves, bifurcation theory, existence and uniqueness theorem, linear systems, and chaos theory.

The only prerequisite for this course is knowledge of differentiation and integration techniques.

M4504: What are the Odds? Closed!
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Eli Ross

Like math? Like playing games? Want to improve your poker game? Or learn how to analyze statistical trends in sports?

This class will explore
probability. We'll cover a lot of material through some fun examples. Plus we'll have food sometimes -- can't beat that!

The course will assume mastery of basic probability and counting techniques.

M4473: Vision and Computational Photography Closed!

This is a class that is both serious and fun based upon the rich MIT experience in Vision, Signals and Systems, and Computational Photography.

Light and Color: Mirror, mirror on the Wall; who is the fairest of us all?

Lens and Cameras: The Human experience from the Cave to the iPad

The Pixel and demosaicing the neighborhood: Never have so many given so little.

A use for the Linears: A one hour Matlab for image processing

Digital Camera Deconstruction (DCD): and that’s All there is!

High Dynamic Range (HDR) methods according to St. Paul (Debevec)

Compressive Sensing (CS)

the Single Pixel Camera


M4500: Dive into C++ Full!
Difficulty: **

cout << "Ever wanted to learn how to program?";
cin >> your_answer;
if (your_answer == “yes”)
cout << "Awesome! Take our class, and learn how to program in C++";

This is a class for students with no prior programming experience. We will cover the fundamentals of programming, using the popular language C++. Each class will have a lecture component, where we teach you an aspect of the language, and an activities component, where we will hone your skills with practice assignments. We’ll have lots of fun writing and running cool programs, and you’ll learn a lifelong skill in the process.

There will be small homework assignments each week, to reinforce the concepts covered in class.

No prior programming experience required. Students who have never programmed before and are interested in learning are encouraged to register.

M4505: 1=2... not! Full!
Difficulty: ***

Grigori Perelman won $1,000,000 for writing a mathematical proof... and so can you! Learn how to use induction, contradiction, invariants and more to determine true from false... and prove it. Besides the fact that they are really important in math, proofs are really pretty.

An interest in mathematics

M4509: Al Gore-isms Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Jacob Hurwitz

One word sums up probably the responsibility of any computer scientist, and that one word is "to know algorithms." We have made good algorithms in the past, and we will made good algorithms in the future. Take this class about algorithms, and the future will be better tomorrow.

There is a problem: That quite frankly, computer scientists are the only profession that program our computers. We are not part of the problem; we are computer scientists. Yes, we stand by all the poor code we've written, but if we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure. As computer scientists, we are ready for any unforeseen programs that may or may not be programmed.

It's time for algorithms to enter the computer science world. As many of you know, computers were very instrumental in the founding of arithmetic. Algorithms make computers efficient. What a waste it is to lose one's efficiency. Or not to have efficiency is being very wasteful. How true that is. (Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.)

All you have to do is be the very best computer scientist you can be, because you're good enough, you're smart enough, and, doggone it, you can learn algorithms.

(In case you're too young to remember the venerable Al Gore, you're in luck: This is not a class about Al Gore. This class is about algorithms. But if you want to learn more about Al Gore on your own time, Google his name and I'm sure you'll find my class description much more amusing!)

Not necessary: computer science background, programming ability, and Al Gore trivia. Very necessary: a solid grasp of basic mathematics, the ability to think logically, and a desire to have fun!

M4480: Introduction to Computability and Complexity Theory Closed!
Difficulty: Hard - This class may be exceptionally difficult

A gentle introduction to the theory of computation. Nowadays, in the real world, we use computers to solve essentially all the problems we need to solve. But what are the limits of computation, if they exist? We will discuss this question in great detail, on the way discovering many wonderful concepts and a surprisingly elegant theory.


1. Intro. What is complexity/computability theory and why do we care? Languages. The Turing Machine. The Church-Turing thesis.

2. Decidability. Examples of decidable problems. ATM and the diagonal argument

3. Reductions. Other undecidable problems. The Halting problem and the busy beaver function.

4. Big-O notation. P. The strong Church-Turing thesis. Examples of problems in P.

5. Non-deterministic computation. NP. Examples of problems in NP. Discuss P's relationship with NP. Space analogue: PSPACE = NPSPACE.

6. NP-Completeness. Cook-Levin Theorem. TQBF and PSPACE-completeness.

7. Cook-reductions. More NP-complete problems.

8. IP. Interactive protocols. Zero-knowledge. IP = PSPACE.

Good mathematical ability. At the bare minimum, being comfortable with polynomials. Some experience with coding (or at least pseudocode) highly recommended.

[Deprecated] Science

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S4508: The History of the Earth: From the Big Bang to Now Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Peter Hedman

From the origin of the elements, the moon-forming impact, and The Great Oxidation to trilobites, pterosaurs, and agriculture: through eight classes, we will explore the entire history of the universe, our planet, and life on Earth. Along the way, we will use the tools of astronomy, physics, geology, and biology and focus not just on what we know about the history of the world but how we know it. This class will emphasize science as a process for understanding the world, rather than a set of facts.

Disclaimer: After considering 13.7 billion years of deep history, it is possible that one might feel like a speck in the void. But more likely is a sense of appreciation that, in spite of our short lives and small world, we humans understand so much that is larger and older than ourselves.

No particular prerequisites are required, but students will benefit from having completed introductory coursework in one or more of: -Physics -Biology -Astronomy -Earth Science

S4506: Intro to Mechanics Full!
Difficulty: **

Ever wanted to understand how things move and why? Want to be able to predict where a ball will land and how hard it will hit the ground? If you are interested in physics, but never really had much experience with it, this is the class for you.


S4487: Introduction to Organic Chemistry Full!
Difficulty: Hard - This class may be exceptionally difficult
Teachers: Yixiao Wang

Organic chemistry is the chemistry of carbon, the backbone of all life on Earth. This course will provide an introduction to organic chemistry, reactions, and mechanisms. We will learn basic synthesis processes and the way mechanisms demonstrate how a reaction proceeds. Along the way, we will see the biological and practical applications of these reactions such as understanding how DNA replication errors, medicine, and synthetic materials work. Topics will include nomenclature, nucleophilic substitution reactions, elimination reactions, alkene chemistry, and benzene chemistry.

One year of high school chemistry. Understanding VSEPR theory, hybridization, and electronegativity is highly recommended.

S4479: Weather in a Tank Full!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Jareth Holt

Weather surrounds us. Whether blizzards in Boston or heat waves in Houston, weather plays a big role in our lives. In this class, we'll look at the components that drive the weather starting from the most basic concepts up to a full system. The ultimate goal is to answer the question: What ingredients make weather? Each class will have a fun lab or demonstration to drive home the day's point, building up to the rotating tank weather simulator (hence: weather in a tank). If you've ever wanted to understand what weathermen are talking about, add some depth to cloud-watching, or just want an earthy spin on the basic sciences, this class is for you!

A good understanding of basic physics: mass, momentum, and energy.

S4515: Modern Physics
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Stephen Face

In this course, we will cover some of the more recent developments physics. We will start with relativity and then shift to an exploration of quantum mechanics. Come to this class if you've seen Newtonian mechanics and are interested to see what else physics can do.

High school physics, Calculus

S4486: Introduction to Solid State Chemistry Full!

Ever wonder why bicycles are made out of aluminum and your dinner dishes aren't? Tired of boring titration reactions and acid-base chemistry? Explore how the relationships between materials structure and processing result in the properties required for different engineering applications. This class will cover the basics of electronic structure with a focus on how electronic structure dictates chemical bonding and then delve into the fundamentals and applications of engineering materials including ceramics, metals, semiconductors, glasses, polymers, and biomaterials.

Basic high school chemistry is required as well as a keen interest in science and how the world works. Oh. And coolness. The students must also be cool.

S4507: Intro to Chemistry Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Anubhav Sinha

Ever wanted to learn what makes up the world on a fundamental level? Haven't gotten a chance to learn chemistry yet? Interested in a molecular view of life? Then this is the class for you!


S4472: Futures in Biotechnology Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Julia Winn

Look beyond premed into the rapidly expanding world of biotechnology. If you are considering studying science in college, but aren't sure what area interests you, this is the class for you. If you think you know what you like, but want to be sure before you eliminate all other possibilities, this also is the class for you.

Every week we will look at a different field in biotechnology- primarily within medicine, but not always. Each lesson will begin by going over the basic science needed for a general grasp of the field itself. The second part of the lesson will cover the most recent biotechnological advances in that field, with an emphasis on practical application. Depending on student interest, the class may also explore the ethical dilemmas presented by certain advances.

The topics covered will include but not be limited to virology, stem cells, genetic engineering, cancer, aging, memory and the brain, the human genome project, and synthetic biology.

Some high school biology is recommended, but the class will not assume that you have any prior experience with any subject.

S4495: Molecular Biology and Applications to Biological Research Closed!
Difficulty: ***

Ever wanted to learn about cutting-edge biology not covered in your typical textbook? This class will explore areas like RNAi, epigenetics, cancer stem cells, and gene regulation, which are currently shaping the landscape of molecular biology. A special emphasis will be placed on experimental techniques their application to biological study. In addition, students will be reading and discussing scientific papers to reinforce the class material.

Students must have taken at least one year in introductory biology. AP biology is highly encouraged, although not required.

S4476: Nano: A scale where material properties are different Closed!
Difficulty: *

This class would be a brief introduction into the nanomaterials world, from atoms to nanostructures. Students will be immersed in a nanoscale world where atoms are disposed in multiples patterns to generate a wide range of materials. Some of those materials are essential for our life; some other will be the next generation of materials in apparel, computers and medicine applications. Students will prepare a short presentation (5 min) focused on a nanomaterial application. This class will be highly interactive and powerpoint slides will be a bridge for student to be immersed in the nanoworld.

Chemistry background

S4513: Ocean Systems: Physical and Biological Oceanography Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Alorah Harman

Physical oceanography, the study of physical processes in the ocean system, is a rapidly developing field. The challenges are numerous: a single datapoint can require an expensive and hazardous expedition. Yet in the context of global climate change, our understanding of the ocean system has never been more important to our future. How are our oceans changing? How will these changes affect us? How are new technologies changing the way we collect and interpret data?

In this class, we will cover circulation patterns, momentum balance and geostrophy, fluid physics, oceanic heat transfer, and conservation equations and transport processes within the ocean.

As we cover ocean physics, we will also consider the biological component of the ocean system (the "carbon pump") and how it relates to climate change. As a class, we'll ultimately design a marine microorganism experiment to be carried out in an MIT laboratory.

Note: Class will be taught lecture style with an open discussion component and in-class exercises. Two special topic lectures will be presented on material selected by the class. This is an introductory class - we will work hard but beginners are welcome!


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X4510: STEAM Lecture Series
Difficulty: **

Do you think you might want to be an engineer, mathematician or scientist, but don’t know much about they do? Keep reading!

Each week, a different teacher will speak about a topic in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Applied Mathematics (STEAM). In the past, topics have ranged from bioengineering to game theory, offering a mixture of lecture-based and activity-based classes.

The following will be offered (subject to change):

Chaos Theory
Introduction to Topology
Aero/Astro Engineering

This series is designed to touch upon topics -- there is no need to worry about overwhelming jargon and math will be kept at a basic level!

X4511: Weekly World News
Difficulty: **

Are you not content with just "living your life", oblivious to the terrors happening around the world every day? Have no fear! This class will cover the past week's world news, keeping YOU updated!

Each week's class will be taught by a different teacher and will cover different areas of interest.

X4514: Starting a Company Full!
Difficulty: **

Think you might want to start a company? This class is your chance to gain some hands-on experience. On the first day of class we'll come up with an idea for the company, and in following classes we'll market and sell our product or service. Students will develop a business plan, make a website, fundraise, and market. We’ll also keep a blog of lessons learned along the way.


X4483: Understanding Science in the Media Full!
Teachers: Michelle Greene

Last week, you read that Vitamin D is good for you, and today the newspaper says it can cause cancer?! If you are confused about science as reported in the news, you are not alone. In this class, we will examine science as (mis) represented in both mainstream and new media. You will learn how to critically examine science news stories to find bias, and will be armed with skills to help you understand the research yourself.


X4512: ESPrinkler
Difficulty: **

During the third block, middle school students are given the opportunity to participate in ESPrinkler, a mini-program that consists of several one-shot (Splash-style) classes each week, including:

Improv Acting Activities
Engineering Challenges
Capture the Flag!

While you don't have to individually register for each activity, you must register for this course (ESPrinkler) to partake in the different activities offered every week!