HSSP Spring 2014
Course Catalog


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Arts Computer Science
Humanities Lunch
Mathematics Science
Miscellaneous


Arts

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A8115: Bracelet Making for Beginners
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Sarah Wharton

Ever wondered how to make cool friendship bracelets? We'll go over the basic knots and patterns, and turn you into a pro in no time!

A8154: Intro to Spoken Word Poetry
Difficulty: *

An exploration and experimentation with the art of spoken word poetry. Through this weekly workshop, we will work on crafting and performing provocative and resounding pieces that may one day take the stage!


Prerequisites
An open mind and a notebook.


Computer Science

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C8106: Web Design for Fun and Profit!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Megan Belzner

You're the newest employee of HSSPweb (the world's leading web design company), and it's time to get to work! Learn the basics of web design, from HTML to CSS to Javascript and more. Then put your new knowledge to work in a series of design tasks, culminating in the creation of a website for a (fictional) company that has hired HSSPweb to design their site!


Prerequisites
You should know how to use a computer (somewhat) efficiently, but programming knowledge is not necessary. If you've done any web programming before, you'll probably have seen most of the material already.

C8199: Learning Programming Through Haskell
Difficulty: ***

Let's say you're in math class, and you're supposed to be solving an equation, but rather than find out how old Bill is who will be twice as old as Mary in seven years you'd prefer to think about how in seven years you'll have taken over the entire world and surely equations won't get you any closer to world domination...

Enter computer programming, also known as writing equations for world domination.

This course will be a fast-paced introduction to programming. We'll be using Haskell, a purely functional programming language with nice properties that let us reason about our programs as if they were mathematical equations. We'll learn how these properties make it a great programming language and how we can write programs in Haskell that solve real problems.

This is intended to serve as a first course in programming; no programming experience is necessary.

C8104: Hands-On Web Hacking and Security
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Gurtej Kanwar

Want to learn how to be a 1337 h4x0r? Well, I can't guarantee you'll pick up leetspeak (see the Wikipedia page if you don't know what I'm talking about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leet) but you'll certainly learn about the art and practice of web hacking!

In this class you will learn many of the predominant techniques used by web security experts today. We'll cover: SQL injection, cross-site scripting, cross-site request forgery, and several other methods. This is a HANDS ON course, so you will have a chance to try your hand at attacking some (perfectly legal, sandboxed) web pages every day in class.


Prerequisites
Famliarity with browsing the web, and a desire to learn more about how the web works.

C8157: Introduction to MATLAB Full!
Difficulty: **

This course will give a general introduction to MATLAB, one of the most common scientific programming platforms used today. We'll learn about ways to analyze and display laboratory data and then try to build our own scientific models to simulate natural processes. Students are welcome to bring their own data or ideas for models or can work on developing one of the examples we use in class.

No programming experience is necessary – MATLAB will be a new language for most people so we'll start from the basics and then let everyone progress at their own pace through the projects.

At the end of this course, students will be able to use MATLAB for basic tasks and, most importantly, feel comfortable extending their knowledge using MATLAB’s extensive help library.

C8182: How Processors Work
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Ziv Scully

We're going to start with some simple electronic components called transistors. With transistors, we can make circuits called logic gates. With logic gates, we can make slightly more complicated components, such as multiplexers, adders (yes, we're going to draw a circuit diagram that can do math!), and registers. With multiplexers, adders, and registers, we can make a processor. Yep, really. Right there on the chalkboard will be a diagram of an actual processor that does everything the processor powering whatever electronic device you're reading this text on can do, and by the end of the course, you'll know exactly how it works!


Humanities

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H8198: Modernist Literature
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Lilly Chin, James Rowan

“I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities I have visited.” - Jorge Luis Borges

We'll read some short stories, plays, and poetry from various modernist authors like T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Ralph Ellison, and Tom Stoppard. We'll also explore some literary theory and some of the historical, scientific, and philosophical influences on the modernist movement.

H8194: Belief and Truth
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Matthew Davis

Why do we automatically reject certain ideas, while fervently believing in others? Together, we will challenge the core of our reasoning and take a journey to discover the roots (or lack thereof) of proof and logic, learning to always question everything.

H8192: Fiction Writing I Full!
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Susan Shepherd

Interested in writing stories or novels, but unsure how to begin? Or have you been writing fiction for a while, and want feedback on your writing? Then this is the writing class for you.

This course will divide its time between practical instruction and writing exercises. Students will learn a great deal about the craft of writing, including plot structures, genre distinctions, scenes & sequels, conflict, worldbuilding techniques, ways to integrate several plot threads into one cohesive story, and ways to develop a strong narrative voice for your focus character.

Students will then apply these techniques with in-class writing exercises and out-of-class homework assignments. The intent is for students who are very new to fiction writing to get a general introduction to the craft, while students who have been writing for several years can learn more about techniques they may already be using. They can then use feedback from written assignments to improve their fiction writing in general.

Additionally, students who wish to receive detailed feedback on up to two pieces of previously-written work may submit stories or sections of longer stories along with a description of what sort of feedback they wish to receive, and they'll receive feedback at the end of class a week later.

Fiction Writing I goes a bit more slowly than Fiction Writing II, and has shorter assignments.

H8134: Social Theory I: A Cheese Plate of the Social Sciences
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Joseph Seering

Have you ever been curious about what Marx actually said? Have you wondered how the father of modern capitalism would feel about the economy of today? Are you interested in Nietzsche, but unsure how to pronounce his name? This class will briefly touch upon a variety of social theorists, giving enough of a taste to satisfy casual curiosity and hopefully to spur deeper explorations.

H8193: Fiction Writing II
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Susan Shepherd

Interested in writing stories or novels, but unsure how to begin? Or have you been writing fiction for a while, and want feedback on your writing? Then this is the writing class for you.

This course will divide its time between practical instruction and writing exercises. Students will learn a great deal about the craft of writing, including plot structures, genre distinctions, scenes & sequels, conflict, worldbuilding techniques, ways to integrate several plot threads into one cohesive story, and ways to develop a strong narrative voice for your focus character.

Students will then apply these techniques with in-class writing exercises and out-of-class homework assignments. The intent is for students who are very new to fiction writing to get a general introduction to the craft, while students who have been writing for several years can learn more about techniques they may already be using. They can then use feedback from written assignments to improve their fiction writing in general.

Additionally, students who wish to receive detailed feedback on up to two pieces of previously-written work may submit stories or sections of longer stories along with a description of what sort of feedback they wish to receive, and they'll receive feedback at the end of class a week later.

Fiction Writing II covers slightly more material than Fiction Writing I, and has longer assignments.

H8139: Creative Writing Workshop
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Celina Reynes

This course will excite young writers with numerous tools and alternative approaches to the writing process in fiction. Organized into a small group workshops based on students' choice of genre, key elements of the program include:

• frequent workshop sessions in which leader and participants offer supportive feedback on your writing;
• lively discussions of selections of literature;
• individual meetings with workshop instructors to discuss how you will undertake a significant writing project and to review your progress;
• writing-intensive sessions, focusing on challenging writing exercises;
• a culminating project of submitting one piece of work for the class journal.

This blend of small workshops, group writing sessions, plus presentations will inspire students to experiment with new approaches, and to consider issues of writing as process, and modes of creativity. As students grow as writers, they will hone their creative skills and deepen their passion for the writer's craft.

This course is ideal for students who have a serious interest in creative writing and modern literature, who are not afraid to experiment with structure, and who want to develop a daily writing practice.

H8196: Let's talk about terrorism
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Malte Ahrens

Through interactive discussions and debates we'll ponder about everything from drones, privacy, torture, war, surveillance, law, good v. evil and morality. What is terrorism? How should we deal with it?

Discuss. Discover. Decide.

H8143: The Dutch Golden Age
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Emily Tang

An overview of the Dutch empire when it was at its peak. A wide variety of topics will be covered, from Dutch art to tulip mania!

H8107: All Quiet on the Eastern Front: The Cold War
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Alexandru Bacanu

A post WW II contemporary history class that will focus on the United States during the Cold War. It will focus both on internal politics and culture, as well as external politics. Topics not usually covered in history classes will be emphasized. This will include an in depth analysis of the struggle for Civil Rights in the 60's, various feminist movements that materialized during the 70's, as well as topics often given short shrift in standard history classes such as urban decay, crime, the AIDS epidemic, and the vast cultural shifts that occurred in 80's, including Reaganism and the rise of the Religious Right. Foreign policy that will be covered includes the Vietnam War, the US's role in the Soviet-Afghan war during the 80's, Perestroika and the fall of the Iron Curtain in the late 80's and early 90's. There will be many opportunities for discussion in the class, and students will be given opportunities to debate what the proper role of the government in society should be, as well as what role the US should play in the international sphere as the world's only remaining economic, cultural, militaristic, and political superpower.


Prerequisites
Basic knowledge of US history.

H8166: Book Club and Knitting Circle
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Kate Rudolph

Come learn to knit, and then make something beautiful while we talk about books! Titles include The Hunger Games, Things Not Seen, Running out of Time, The Girl who Owned a City, Invitation to the Game, and more. We'll be discussing a different book every week, so this class is for voracious readers -- but don't worry, I'll give you plenty of notice so you can start early!

H8191: Thought Experiments
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Daniel Epelbaum

Many ideas in science and philosophy have come out of thought experiments. The paradigm shifts started by Galileo, Newton and Einstein all relied initially on thought experiment. Thought experiments allow a powerful method of separating important aspects of a situation to figure out what we should focus on.

In this class we will discuss various thought experiments, from the very scientific thought experiments that led to relativity, to the philosophic thought experiments such as the famous "Trolley Problem." We will use thought experiments to think about questions such as: what is identity? can computers think? etc. We will talk about what separates a good from a bad thought experiment, and ultimately devise some of our own.


Prerequisites
Nothing.

H8183: Introduction to Linguistics

Explore human languages, piece apart their puzzles, and participate in experiments!

This class will be an in-depth hands-on introduction to Linguistics, the scientific study of human languages. Each week we will solve language-related puzzles and create in-class experiments. The discoveries we will make will lead to insights about what sounds languages can be made of, how sounds are put together to form meaning, how languages are structured, and how they are acquired.

The main goal is for you, the students, to discover through hands-on experience the many aspects of the scientific study of language. We will discuss several sub-fields of linguistics, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics, using not only English but a variety of other languages to spark our debates.

Come expecting to learn, to decipher, and to question what you already know about language.

H8188: Battle School Full!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Kevin Yue

Studying warfare is for amateurs. Wars aren't fought in books, they're fought on battlegrounds and across continents. And, in a rare exception to the rule, my classroom.

In my class there will be no boring textbooks, no facts memorization, no notes, and no tests. Instead, you will earn your general's stars through simulations of real-world battles and campaigns where YOU command the armies.

I cannot promise that all of my students will conquer the world. But I can promise that every one of them will have plenty of chances to do so.

So, whether you aspire to conquer the world, or just want to learn the history of warfare in the most awesome way possible, come and attend Battle School!


Lunch

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L8311: Lunch Period
Difficulty: None
Teachers:

Enjoy a break for lunch with your friends! Please register for at least one lunch period on each day of the program.


Mathematics

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M8264: Lecture Series: Math!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Eric Mannes

Want to learn how to keep secrets from your little sister or a well-funded intelligence agency? Why the last digit of $$7^{7^{7^{7^7}}}$$ is $$3$$, or what's wrong with the number $$37$$? How to count to infinity, and then some? Then sign up for this whirlwind tour of math! You'll learn about something completely different each week from a series of 7 speakers. The exact list of topics is TBD and may depend on class interests.

M8162: So... do you think you can count and sum?
Difficulty: *

This class' objective is to introduce you to some classical and beautiful results in combinatorics. Our aim is to teach you 'the art of counting without counting' through interesting yet elementary problems.
Hopefully by the end you would have realized how fun (and sometimes very hard) it can be to count and sum!


Prerequisites
Algebra and interest in problem solving

M8185: Don't Listen to Nonsense: Statistics in the Real World
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Colin Aitken

9 out of 10 dentists recommend Sensodyne toothpaste! Colgate Total is the most recommended toothpaste by dentists and hygienists!

The average American household makes $60,528 per year (source: US Census), and the average American household makes $44,389 (source, US Census) per year.

"Zicam worked to help shorten my cold, an effective and safe product." Geico will save you up to 15% or more on car insurance!

In our lives, we're faced with tons of numbers and statistics. A high school or college-level introduction to statistics will teach you a lot about using statistics, but in the real world we're faced with a much different problem: how do you tell which statistics you see you should believe, and which are either trying to mislead you or straight-up lying?

In this class, we'll spend some time learning about statistical concepts such as mean, median, mode, standard deviation, normal (and other!) distributions, z-scores, and sampling methods, but we'll focus a lot more on both errors in applying these statistics to come to false conclusions, and ways people misuse them to deceive you.

Come learn how to fight back when people lie to you with statistics!


Prerequisites
Familiarity with Algebra

M8267: Group Theory
Difficulty: ****
Teachers: Jonathan Tidor

This class will be a fast-paced, hardcore introduction to group theory. We will start off looking at group actions and their applications in combinatorics and then move to developing a theory of groups and techniques to help classify finite groups.

Topics covered may include normal subgroups, quotient groups, cosets and Lagrange's Theorem, direct and semidirect products, cyclic groups, the Chinese Remainder Theorem, the orbit-stabilizer theorem, Burnside's Lemma, and the Sylow theorems.


Prerequisites
No prior knowledge of abstract algebra is necessary, but students must be familiar and capable with understanding and producing proofs as well as modular arithmetic.

M8133: Abstract Algebra: The Theory of Groups
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Yash Kothari

Discover the world of abstractions in algebra and feel the concept of group theory come alive. Fun and intense at the same time, it should prove to be a good exploratory journey.


Prerequisites
Motivation and inspiration, along with the desire to learn and contribute. Technically, it would be a plus to know set theory, matrices, basic algebra (not abstract haha).


Science

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S8184: Physics at the Frontier
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Yale Fan

The great thing about science, and physics in particular, is that we are always at the brink of discovery. The goal of this class is to understand current developments in theoretical high-energy physics, building on fundamental principles and with a focus on simple but deep ideas. After reviewing the pillars of 20th-century physics, including relativity (special and general), quantum mechanics, and quantum field theory, we will explore the Standard Model of particle physics and survey exciting recent developments such as string theory, extra dimensions, and the AdS/CFT correspondence. Mathematical formalism will be emphasized.


Prerequisites
Experience with calculus and a solid grasp of high-school physics.

S8116: Playing God: Worldbuilding 101
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Kaylee Brent

Science fiction sometimes becomes science fact. We've discovered strange planets orbiting other stars (and there are some pretty weird ones orbiting our own!). How are planets made? How do they get to be so different? How do they change over time (and how could they, theoretically, be changed on purpose in a terraformation process)? How could you make a plausible world for a realistic sci-fi story? We'll look at all of these questions and more over 7 weeks!

S8153: Exploring Electricity and Magnetism
Difficulty: **

This course is designed for the enthusiastic high school students who wish to explore exciting topics in electricity and magnetism and have not had formal instruction in the subject. We will start from the very basic ideas of electric charges and conclude with the fundamental ideas of electromagnetic induction. In between, we will study electrostatic interactions, conductors, capacitance, circuits, and magnetism. Along the way, we will emphasize applications so that students can see the profound practicality of what they learn. Some of the potential applications that we will cover include superconductivity, semiconductors, and lasers. To further enforce the course content, we will spend a major portion of the class getting students' hands dirty by constructing a Van de Graaff generator and an electrostatic motor. This way, each student walks away with a little demonstration of electricity and magnetism to show his or her friends.


Prerequisites
We will use basic algebra and trigonometry extensively. Whatever mathematics used beyond algebra and trigonometry will be introduced in the course. Thus, students without prior exposure to the more advanced mathematics will not be at a disadvantage. Students should also be familiar with basic concepts of forces (Newton's laws) and energy. This course is not intended for students who have had some form of an introductory electricity and magnetism class.

S8263: Lecture Series: Research!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Eric Mannes

Learn about current developments across math, science, and computing! Every week, a different guest speaker will talk about their current research. Find out some of the cool things that MIT students spend their time working on.

S8112: Modern Statistical Physics
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Robert Jones, Henry Lin

Statistical physics is about making precise statements about imprecise systems. We might want to describe a gas without writing down the positions and velocities of 10^23 molecules or describe a magnet without keeping track of all the spins of the electrons in the material. We might even want to understand some of the features of black holes without knowing everything (or anything, really) about string theory!

We will begin this course by introducing ideas like entropy, the Boltzmann distribution, the partition function, and phase transitions in the context of the Ising model, which describes magnet-like systems. Along the way we will explore applications of these ideas in mathematics and computer science.


Prerequisites
Familiarity with basic calculus (at the AP level) is absolutely necessary. You should be able to answer "for $$p>0$$, where is the maximum of $$f(p)=-p\log p$$?" Any math beyond this and any physics you know will be helpful but not required.

S8159: Organic Chemistry
Difficulty: ***

Did you take general chemistry (such as AP Chemistry) and love VSEPR theory, but want to learn more? Wish that your biology class (any level) explained how amino acids magically connect together to form polypeptides (which then fold into proteins)? Then this class is for you! We’ll study organic chemistry, including reactions involving alkyl halides, alkenes, alkynes, alcohols, aromatic rings, and carbonyl compounds. Class time will be a mix of lecture and problem solving (both synthesis and reaction mechanism questions). I’ll also provide some questions as homework; I won’t require you to do them, but you’ll likely learn a lot more if you practice! Throughout the class, principles and strategies will be emphasized over memorization, but there will be lots of material covered at a very fast pace!


Prerequisites
AP Chemistry or an equivalent course. In particular, I’ll assume that you know VSEPR theory, hybridization theory, basic thermodynamics principles, and basic kinetics principles. A willingness to think about and wrestle with lots of new material is also a must!

S8158: Thermodynamics (A Physicist's Perspective)
Difficulty: ***

Einstein famously said of Thermodynamics: "It is the only physical theory of universal content, which I am convinced, that within the framework of applicability of its basic concepts will never be overthrown." It is a theory that shows up every field of science in some way and provides very strong tools for answering questions about what happens in nature.

However, it’s also a hard subject, full of new concepts (such as heat, work, entropy, enthalpy) with definitions that fit together delicately but precisely. As Arnold Sommerfeld said, “Thermodynamics is a funny subject. The first time you go through it, you don’t understand it at all. The second time you go through it, you think you understand it, except for one or two small points. The third time you go through it, you know you don’t understand it, but by that time you are used to it, so it doesn’t bother you any more.”

This course will provide an overview of the subject as physicists view it, with plenty of time to ponder and discuss the four fundamental laws, ideal gases and as many applications of them as we can fit in. We’ll also introduce Statistical Mechanics briefly and discuss how the connection is made between large scale and small scale physics.

Based on: Equilibrium Thermodynamics, C.J. Adkins


Prerequisites
Knowledge of calculus is always helpful, but not strictly necessary, although you do need to be comfortable with manipulating mathematical equations. You’ll be able to get a lot out of this class whether or not you have taken thermodynamics before.

S8266: Hands-On Science!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Lisa Ho, Anna Ho

Learn science the right way! Explore concepts in subjects like astronomy, geology, math, and rocketry through hands-on activities and experiments. We'll use materials such as marshmallows, clay, and jelly beans to investigate scientific ideas.

S8140: Funny and Healthy Psychological Science
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Maria Cassidy

Each of the 7 classes will be focused on one topic in Psychological Science. Lecture-based, interspersed with lots of awesome videos. Extra reading/watching/experimenting for optional homework.

Topics:

Babies! What we know about how they think.
Information Retention and Processing
Vision and information: wtf?
Brain Health, Body Health
Ethics and Experiment Complexity
The epic battle to control your own mind.
The last class will be dedicated to in-class project work and presentation!

S8114: Planets, rockets and more planets!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Olivia Brode-Roger

Interested in planets? rockets? space? If you answered yes to one of the above, come and join us for an exciting course where we travel along our solar system, learn about planets and how we can get there!

S8156: Microbes Make Us: How Microbes Influence Our Identities
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Sean Kearney

The microbes living in and on your body outnumber your own cells by a factor of 10 to 1. That's approximately $$10^{13}$$ microbes -- for a visual the microbes of your gut could fill a can to overflowing. Recent evidence suggest that these microbes influence far more than the metabolic activities in the gut; experiments in animal models show that microbes alter social behavior, intelligence, susceptibility to disease, and overall health and fitness. This course will survey new findings in the microbial underpinnings of animal and human health and behavior through literature, simple hands-on experiments, and lecture.


Prerequisites
Intro Biology, AP Biology recommended, Intro Chemistry, AP Chemistry recommended

S8144: Food & Nutrition: A Microscopic to Macroscopic Exploration
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Emily Venable

Food is a major part of our lives from its day to day necessity to its cultural impact. This course will take both a scientific and cultural approach to understanding food and nutrition. We will start at the basic building blocks of nutrients and work our way up to dietary trends and marketing of food through the media. Students will walk away as introspective consumers better able to make choices about what they eat.


Prerequisites
A basic understanding of biology is helpful, but not necessary.

S8195: Experimenting our way from science
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Malte Ahrens

We will delve into the weird and wonderful world of quantum mechanics, light, fusion, fission, atomic weapons, thermodynamics, rocket science, the origins of life, and genetics through a myriad of practical (and often edible) experiments.

We will talk, learn and ponder about all these things and more, not getting stuck in the math (though nor will we shy away from it), but focusing on understanding what actually is happening and why.

Join as we seek to understand science from the tremendously tiny to the boisterously big.


Miscellaneous

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X8165: Engineering for International Development

Learn the struggles and help us engineer for the developing world! - A hands on approach.

X8305: Sprinkler
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Kate Rudolph

Each week, you'll get to choose one of 4 to 6 classes. There'll be new choices each week! Classes will range from cool math and science topics to hands-on activities. It's like a very-mini-Splash every week!

X8187: Cook EVERYTHING Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Rebecca Li

Do you fail at boiling water? Do you struggle with cereal every morning? Do you want to learn how to make fancy food instead and raise yourself out of your culinary mediocrity and learn how to make delicious flavor explosions in your mouth

Note: Please contact me before you register if you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions to know if we need to accommodate you.

X8160: Influence and Persuasion
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Alec Lai

"Influence and Persuasion" provides a new approach to teaching the fundamentals of influence: a practice-oriented, thematically-organized, and interactive workshop. Designed from student feedback through past versions of "Influence," this time, this seminar combines learning fundamental tactics and key psychological theories with hands-on practice and skill development along the way. In addition, the content will now be covered in themes, such as influence through basic psychology, influence through data, influence through networking, and influence through value-added mentalities. As such, expect 60-70% of the content to be different from last year's HSSP! Additionally, there will be guest speakers as well! By the end of this course, you will have learned multiple new ways to influence the people and systems around you to better help you achieve your goals. You will also gain a new perspective, and see the true potential behind persuasion.

X8161: Communication 101
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Alec Lai

"Communication 101" is a new, unique, practice/skill-based workshop class that helps you develop a diverse range of communication skills - like never before. This innovative seminar provides hands-on practice and development in many different forms of communication, including not just public speaking, but also small talk, debate, sales pitching, facilitation, mediation, and many more situations! Students of all levels are encouraged to attend (novice speakers to seasoned debaters), as I assure you everyone will learn multiple new competencies. Professional guest speakers have also been scheduled for most class days. By the end of this course, you will have learned both what to say and how to say things in multiple different contexts.