HSSP Spring 2020
Course Catalog


Filter Catalog by Grade:

Jump to Categories
Arts Computer Science
Engineering Humanities
Mathematics Science
Social Science Miscellaneous


Arts

[ Return to Category List ]

A13745: Intro to Music Theory
Difficulty: **

An overview of western music theory with an aim towards composition and aural skills. Possible topics include functional harmony, scales, modes, and counterpoint. Theory concepts will be described in different musical contexts such as classical, jazz, and pop music.


Class Style
Discussion

A13740: Scissors, Gluesticks, and the Counterculture: The Continued Significance of Zines in the 21st Century
Difficulty: **

Calling all self-centered teens: make some zines! Do you wish your journal entries were public? Are you full of important thoughts you just *have* to get out to the world? Do you save every piece of interesting trash you've ever come in contact with? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should probably be making zines!
Hang out with us and learn about the history of zines, read zines and scholarship on zines, and make works of your own. Classes will include a short discussion and an instructive workshop about zine-making. Potential themes that we will explore are punk music, poetry, counter-culture, and intersectional identity.


Class Style
Activity

A13711: Introduction to Wet Media
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Grace Cai, Laura Cui

A gentle introduction to ink, acrylic, watercolors, and more! We will practice different techniques and create our own paintings and designs.


Prerequisites
Curiosity and ability to get hands dirty :)

A13747: Intro to Desserts Full!
Difficulty: *

We will make and eat a variety of desserts! For students who have never made desserts, or who aren't very familiar with dessert-making.
Allergen warning: we will be using ingredients with common allergens such as gluten, dairy, eggs and, for one day, walnuts. If you are allergic, you are welcome to still participate in this class; you just shouldn't eat the desserts. If you are very allergic, please choose not to attend at your own discretion.


Class Style
Activity


Computer Science

[ Return to Category List ]

C13739: Brainy Bots: Robotics and Probability Lab
Difficulty: ***

In this class, we’ll develop ways to think about and solve probabilistic inference problems with robots. Each week we'll introduce a new real-world challenge, and students will work in teams to reason about the math behind the task, design a method, and implement it in on physical robots! Through this process, we’ll actually arrive at methods that are both fundamental and very modern, used as the basis for contemporary artificial intelligence, machine learning, signal processing and communication.

The course material will build from basic principles of probability to concepts such as hypothesis testing, the EM algorithm, and Bayesian filtering. In parallel we'll develop methods for robot localization, optimal control, and planning. The class will have minimal lecture, and will mostly consist of round-table discussion and programming with real robots.


Class Style
Activity

Prerequisites
Some prior programming experience in Python required. Mathematical enthusiasm and some prior exposure to probability will be helpful.

C13750: Introduction to Programming with Python Full!
Difficulty: **

Learn the basics of programming with Python. We'll go over variables, conditional statements, for loops, functions, and you'll be on your way to writing your own programs at the end of class.


Class Style
Activity

Prerequisites
Should be comfortable working with variables (equivalent of having taking algebra)


Engineering

[ Return to Category List ]

E13720: Design / Build / Fly Full!
Difficulty: **

PLANES! What are they? How do they work? What is a thermodynamic? Can a schmuck like me make one? Of course! Join us as we design and build radio controlled airplanes!


Class Style
Activity

Prerequisites
We will teach you everything you need to know, but you'll get a lot more out of the class if you have taken or are familiar with Calculus / Physics.

E13728: Being Real about Bioengineering Full!
Difficulty: ***

Can CRISPR cure every disease? Why is the flu more dangerous than Ebola? Is eternal life possible?

Take a seat and relax, as we explore the rapidly evolving field of bioengineering. We will break down current events with biology, math and reason while exploring whether bioengineering can (or cannot!) solve all our problems. We will dig into hot research topics such as CRISPR gene editing, how to engineer our immune system to fight disease, and much more, while also critically thinking of the current shortcomings of these new technologies. Put yourself into the shoes of a bioengineer for a collaborative and interactive discussion on the future of human biology as we know it!


Class Style
Lecture

Prerequisites
Biology (recommended, but not required) Algebra (recommended, but not required)

E13744: How to Build Nuclear Weapons
Difficulty: **

An introduction to nuclear weapons design, including relatively recent developments. Discusses the involved physics, chemistry, and engineering. Additionally, the course will address both the science and impact of nuclear reactors, enrichment, fusion, and ethics.


Class Style
Lecture

Prerequisites
Algebra 1, basic chemistry & physics


Humanities

[ Return to Category List ]

H13764: Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Lecture Series
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Matthew Cox, Jeffery Li

Explore a new topic in the realm of humanities, arts, and social sciences every week through engaging one-time lectures given by various different teachers.


Class Style
Lecture

H13706: Introduction to Post-structuralist Thought
Difficulty: ***

The class will briefly cover ancient and modern philosophy in the context of post structuralist thought before going on to explore post structuralist thought itself. Topics may include semiotics, metaphysics, ontology, pyschoanalysis, epistemology, phenomenology, and existentialism. Thinkers covered may include Kant, Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, Neitzsche, Deleuze, Foucault, Heidegger, Frued, Bacon, Spinoza, and Descartes among others. No knowledge of such topics or thinkers are expected.

H13771: Plato's Republic Part I: Books 1-5
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Kendi Kim

This is a philosophy course! ◊ Description: The course is designed to be part lecture and part discussion. The course is designed to promote student interaction and discourse; however, the quantity and quality of discussion will largely depend on group size, group age, and the interests of the students themselves. Students can expect to read 4-5 page excerpts of Plato’s Republic every week, usually together as a class. This is the first of two parts on Plato's Republic. The Republic is a large and important book, and it cannot possibly be covered in depth in 6-weeks. Instead, we will discuss one topic from each of the first five books/chapters of the Republic. ◊ Required reading: Excerpts from Plato's Republic (reading material will be provided for student).


Class Style
Discussion

Prerequisites
None.

H13730: Understanding Race through American Media
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Olivia Hatten

What is race? Why is it important? Is it important? What about race makes it so difficult to talk about? If you’ve ever asked these types of questions yourself, or if you’re just asking yourself now, this is a great place to start looking for and coming up with your own answers! We will be reading and listening to a wide variety of individuals on the topic of race and race relations in the United States, and speaking about our general observations, feelings and experiences. EVERYONE is encouraged and welcome to attend this class. Let’s learn together!


Class Style
Seminar

H13717: Intro to Marxism
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Julian Hernandez

In 1867, socialist revolutionary Karl Marx published the first volume of what would become Das Kapital; a foundational text in politics, economics, and philosophy that would have a drastic effect on history in the next century and become the most cited book in the social sciences published before 1950.

But what were Marx's real problems with capitalism? Do his warnings still hold water, or have they lost their relevance in the post-Cold War era? And what the heck is "historical materialism" anyways?

Join us as we analyze the main principles of Marxism in our classless HSSP class!


Class Style
Lecture


Mathematics

[ Return to Category List ]

M13761: "Coincidences" in planar geometry
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Shengtong Zhang

We're going to explore scenarios where seeming unrelated points and lines "coincide". Examples include Pascal's theorem, Brianchon's theorem, and the five centers of a triangle. We're also going to introduce machinery to prove these results. Expect a lot of pictures and surprises.


Class Style
Seminar

Prerequisites
Basic planar geometry: lines, circles, types of triangles. The second half of the class involve proofs and more difficult contents up to trigonometry.

M13768: Introduction to Cryptology
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Matthew Benet

Introduction to Cryptology is designed to give a brief introduction to
the study of ciphers, and to teach the art of creating, using, and
cracking them. This class will move chronologically through the history
of cryptology: we will start around 500 BCE with the simple Atbash cipher
and other monoalphabetic substitution, discuss the beginnings of
steganography, and learn the simple beauty of transposition ciphers. We
will then work our way through the Renaissance and the Vigenère Cipher (the Indecipherable Cipher). The focus will be on learning the functionality, strengths, and weaknesses of each cipher. There will be code-breaking in this class.


Class Style
Activity

Prerequisites
Algebra I

M13775: The Gadget Framework: Which types of changing mazes can simulate each other?
Difficulty: ***

This class will feel like solving a sequence of open-ended puzzles. You'll work with other students to solve these puzzles, and sometimes give mathematical arguments as to why they can't be solved.

Imagine you're in a maze, but tunnels open and close based on your movement. For example, maybe there are two tunnels which can only be passed in one direction, and when you go across either one they both flip direction (we call this a "2-toggle"). Or maybe every time you go across a certain tunnel in either direction, another tunnel switches between open and closed (we call this "tripwire lock").

It's possible to put together several 2-toggles to construct something which behaves like a tripwire lock. It's also possible to use several tripwire locks to build a 2-toggle. In this class, we'll investigate which "gadgets" can simulate other gadgets. We'll play with lots of gadgets, including the 2-toggle and tripwire lock, and see what they can build. In some cases, we'll prove that certain gadgets can't simulate certain other gadgets. We might even find general-purpose simulations, showing that a particular gadget can simulate every possible gadget (or every gadget with some property).

This will be a hands-on class, mostly focusing on you finding simulations for yourselves.


Class Style
Discussion

Prerequisites
No particular knowledge is required, but you will enjoy this class most if you enjoy thinking about math problems and puzzles for their own sake.

M13760: The Mathematics of Music
Difficulty: **

Why do musicians like 'thirds', 'fourths', and 'fifths'? Why does the same note played on a violin and a trombone sound so different? Are all pianos secretly out of tune? What is a polyrhythm? How can a trumpet produce all the notes with only three valves?

Come learn about the *mathematics of music* behind all these questions. A little bit of music theory and math can go a long way in understanding the structure of music in a totally new way. Expect to do a lot of careful listening as you develop your musical mind!


Class Style
Lecture

Prerequisites
On the music side, you should know very basic music theory (what is an octave? how many quarter notes in a 4/4 measure?) and you should know how to read simple sheet music. On the math side, be comfortable with algebra—we will be talking about trigonometric functions and logarithms, but it's okay if you don't know much about what those are. (If you are in grades 7–9, this class is three stars difficulty instead of two.)

M13723: Win Games with Math: Impartial Game Theory
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Zixuan Xu, Hung-Hsun Yu

Alice and Bob are playing a game: there are 100 rocks, and Alice and Bob take turn taking 1,2, or 3 rocks away. The player who takes the very last rock wins. Who has a winning strategy?

Want to know the answer? Come and learn some game theory! \bf{Too easy? Don't worry!} There are going to be games that are more interesting than this!


Class Style
Lecture


Science

[ Return to Category List ]

S13782: Building a Body Full!
Difficulty: **

Want to learn how to build a body? Can your design survive battles with infectious pathogens and disease? How does your design protect against parasites like worms? How does your design make sure it does not attack its own body? Will your design be able to receive body parts from other people’s designs? Do you choose to provide a home for bacteria? How do you tell which bacteria are beneficial or are enemies? Will your design heal upon injury? If so, how will your design prevent cancer? Should your design undergo depression?

We will discover together how your body organizes immune cells, neurons, bacteria, and other building blocks to fight disease, but also inadvertently causes a lot of modern diseases.


Class Style
Discussion

S13738: How the immune system works
Difficulty: **

The brain is not the only part of your body that learns! Every day, cells in your adaptive immune system learn to recognize and fight bad viruses and bacteria. How do those cells do it, and what can we do to help them? In this course, you will find out!


Class Style
Seminar

Prerequisites
No biology background required!

S13748: Current Topics in Public Health
Difficulty: **

Do you ever think about diseases? If so, you should take this class. Each week, we will go in-depth on a specific current topic in public health (thus the name of the class), including encephalitis, the flu, nutrition, and others. Since this is the first time I'm teaching this class, I am also open to suggestions.


Class Style
Seminar

S13754: Introduction to Immunology
Difficulty: **

This introductory class explores the different cell types and mechanisms involved in the immune system. We will learn how the human body uses its immune arsenal to keep us healthy, and what happens if it fails, in cases like hypersensitivity or autoimmune diseases. We will also dive into how pathogens and diseases like cancer are able to trick our immune systems and the ways in which our bodies can fight back, with and without the help of medicine. Ultimately, this class will not only introduce you to the world of immunology, but also discuss the real-life applications of your newfound knowledge in research labs here at MIT!

(Come for facts about the immune system, stay for the memes)


Class Style
Lecture

S13734: The Science of Food
Difficulty: *

Interested in engineering, physics, chemistry, or biology? Do you have an APPETITE for learning? Come experiment with us as we explore the intersection between science and food! If building circuits out of soda or growing your own pet bacteria sounds interesting then this is the class for you. This course will give you a broad introduction to many fields in STEM through fun food labs.


Class Style
Activity

S13756: Human Intelligence vs Artificial Intelligence

On this small rock in some remote corner of the universe, nature has accidentally stumbled upon an arrangement of matter capable of intelligent thought: the brain. But what is intelligence? And how might we build it? These questions are at the greatest frontier in science today. Join us on an exploration of intelligence in minds and machines.


Class Style
Lecture

S13716: The Earth, Its Dynamics, and the Environment
Difficulty: **
Teachers: H. Alexander Chen

Provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the science of earth in connection to human activity. This course commences with an exploration of our physical planet through geological approach. Students will examine earth's landscape, formation, dynamics, and atmosphere. Together, we will use Google Earth and a number of databases to examine those physical characteristics of the earth. The second half of the course will focus on the impact of human activities on the earth. By studying pollution fate, climate change, and biogeochemical cycling, we will examine how our society impact the earth and the ways which we attempt to remediate them. We will analyze scientific principles through the lenses of modern society. Case studies along with practical experiences is a crucial component of this course.
Topics include but not limited to: earthquakes, volcano, minerals and rocks, biogeochemical cycles, glaciers and glacial processes, environmental hazards, pollution fate and transport, ecosystem depletion, and sustainability.


Class Style
Lecture

Prerequisites
None. This course will go above and beyond what you might have learned in an earth science class. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the course, students who have an interest in natural & physical sciences, conservation, or social sciences are encouraged to join.

S13763: STEM Lecture Series
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Matthew Cox, Jeffery Li

Explore a new topic in the realm of STEM every week through engaging one-time lectures given by various different teachers.


Class Style
Lecture

S13733: Fluid Dynamics of the Atmosphere, Ocean and Cryosphere
Difficulty: **

Fluid dynamics is the foundation that underpins weather and climate. Fluids govern physics around us from weather patterns, to the ocean's waves, to glaciers: all of which affect human life, society and habitability. This is a crash course in the fluid dynamics governing the Earth's atmosphere, ocean and cryosphere. In the first half, we introduce fundamental concepts in fluid dynamics, including viscosity, momentum balance and waves. The second half of the course discusses applications to geophysical flows including rotating geophysical flows and turbulence.


Class Style
Lecture

Prerequisites
We strongly recommend you have a background in differentiation and integration.

S13774: Crime Scene Chemistry: Forensic Collection and Analysis

In this course you will learn about the application of chemistry to crime scene collection and analytical techniques. Activities will include fingerprint detection, blood analysis, a mock crime scene, and more!


Class Style
Lecture

S13752: Sensational Neuroscience: How Your Brain Understands the World
Difficulty: **

Ever wonder why some people hear “yanny” while others hear “laurel”? Or how visual illusions work? Come learn how the brain processes information from the senses to generate your perception of the world, and how this process can be hijacked. The classes will consist of interactive lectures followed by demonstrations, in which you will make sour things taste sweet, bend your vision, and mind control your classmates. During the last class, we will tour real neuroscience labs at MIT!

We're excited to explore the brain with you!

(Note: The first class will involve a sheep brain dissection. Any students who wish to leave during this portion of the class will be welcome to do so.)


Class Style
Lecture

S13705: A Gentle Introduction to Quantum Mechanics
Difficulty: ***

Socially, quantum mechanics is mentioned quite a bit and is usually mystified as some sort of dark arts that only few are able to understand. You may have heard about the infamous Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment, Einstein's quote concerning quantum mechanics that "God does not play dice with the universe", entanglement, Quantum Computing, superposition, wave functions, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, and many more buzzwords or "buzz concepts" of quantum mechanics. After finishing this course, you will soon be the life of the party with your fundamental understanding of these "buzz concepts."


Class Style
Lecture

Prerequisites
Should be very comfortable with algebra and basic ideas about functions. We will be covering topics from calculus. However, prior calculus experience is not required but is a plus. Prior knowledge of classical physics (concepts such as position, velocity, acceleration, force, momentum, kinetic and potential energy) is not required but some level of familiarity is heavily suggested.

S13737: The Biological Basis of Neurological Disorders

Neurological disorders are one of the greatest threats to public health, affecting as many as one billion people worldwide. In this course, we will learn about how biological and neural abnormalities contribute to different neurological disorders, such as autism, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and many more. Just as importantly, we will learn about treatments for these disorders, with a focus on both current and future therapies.


Class Style
Seminar

Prerequisites
At least some biology background preferred

S13779: Viruses: The craziest collection of molecules in our time (and in all time)
Difficulty: **

Viruses. They’re everywhere. Some can pass quietly unnoticed, some cause wide-spread panic, and some actually help us [integrated in genome so we can think, phages attacking bacteria, etc]. In this course, we’ll delve into some of the many ways viruses interact with the living world and take a look at how they actually work. We’ll go through a couple of case studies on pandemics in history and break down current viral threats. You should leave with a healthy understanding of how exciting viruses are, how they work, and how we interact with them! Don't forget to wash your hands.


Class Style
Discussion

Prerequisites
One formal biology course preferred but not required

S13735: Fundamentals of the CRISPR-Cas9 World
Difficulty: **

Want to learn about gene-editing?
Wondering why you should care?
Well, if you’ve been hearing all the buzz about cutting-edge research efforts for cancer and disease treatment, or the controversial possibilities of creating designer babies and are curious about the technology that is making it all a reality—you’ve come to the right place!

CRISPR gets down to the very element encoding us, the DNA we carry in our cells, in order to change it and modify the organism, allowing for a host of applications researchers are keen to create. We’ll take you through the entire process and relevance of modifying DNA and then do deep dives into how the CRISPR system operates. You will learn about how we discovered CRISPR and even where we’re heading with the technology.


Class Style
Lecture

Prerequisites
Introductory high-school biology would be beneficial. But the lectures will touch the basics too.


Social Science

[ Return to Category List ]

S13731: Emotional and Artificial Intelligence
Difficulty: **

Humans and machines! This course will provide an introduction to artificial intelligence and machine learning; it will not be too tech heavy, but rather discuss applications and future consequences. This will be merged with the topic of emotional intelligence, something that is exceptionally relevant to teenagers and to every human being!


Class Style
Discussion

Prerequisites
Knowing basic programming in python will be ideal, but not a must.

S13780: Global Health

Want to learn about public health and participate in a mini global health hackathon? Well this is the course for you! Over the six weeks of instruction, you will learn about various aspects of global and public health and gather the tools to begin solving real world healthcare issues. This course will be taught by the amazing members of MIT's GlobeMed chapter (https://www.globemed.org) and we're really looking forward to having amazing discussions with you!


Class Style
Seminar

S13773: Board Game Design
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Alan Gaul, Max Jahns

Believe it or not, the board game industry is going through its biggest boom in the modern age. Recent advances in board game design have spurred the release of thousands of new and original board games are every year. But just what makes a game 'good'? And how can you take the best parts of modern board games to design your own? Well in this class, we'll be examining the design of some of the most popular and original games, examining the media theory, game theory and probability theory behind good design, and finishing the class by having you design your very own board game! Come play with us!


Class Style
Activity

S13724: Politics for the Modern Era
Difficulty: *

You may feel as a young zoomer that you have nothing to offer the American government. But as zoomers ourselves, let us tell you that you should not think about what the government can do for you, but what you can do to change your government for the better. How does it work? Why does it work that way? What kind of ancient, outdated garbage still floats around in our bloated bureaucracy? It's like an archaeology mission, but all the trash from the past still affects us today! Join us on a thrilling expedition.


Class Style
Discussion

S13732: Economics for Good: Applying Economics to Real-World Social Challenges
Difficulty: **

How can tools from economics help find solutions important problems related to poverty, inequality, health, climate change, and more? Founded by 2019 Nobel Laureates and MIT professors Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, J-PAL (the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT) works on reducing poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. J-PAL staff and J-PAL-affiliated professors will introduce tools and reasoning from economics and help you apply these tools to current events and public policy. Each week, you’ll learn a core concept or method in economics that can help you look at the world in a new way and/or explore an application of economics to an important topic. Topics will include health, education, climate change and environment, poverty and inequality, and policymaking. With the tools, skills, and case studies you’ll learn in this course, you’ll be just as enthusiastic as we are about using economics to develop and assess policies for a better world.


Class Style
Seminar

Prerequisites
No prior knowledge of economics is assumed. The course will explore a range of topics and should be interesting both for beginners and for students who do have experience with economics.


Miscellaneous

[ Return to Category List ]

X13725: Health Hacks
Difficulty: *

Learn how to hack all aspects of health and fitness! Lectures will include exercise plans, sleep, healthy meals, how pharmaceutical companies may be ripping you off, and much more!


Class Style
Discussion

Prerequisites
Nothing

X13712: The Art of Cryptography
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Pamela Stark

Have you ever wondered how we keep our information secret? How enemy forces send hidden messages during war times and how the internet ensures that our information can only be seen by people we trust?

In this class, we will examine the historical background and practical applications of cryptography. Starting with early communications systems, we will see how the way we send information has evolved over time. We will consider caesar ciphers, RSA encryption, and polyalphabetic ciphers in connection to modern applications.

Classes activities will include: designing coded messages and learning how to decode messages encrypted with different ciphers, designing our own codes, and looking at some applications of cryptography in the real world!

X13778: 1001 Knights
Difficulty: **

Any chess player interested (which does not mean at least Class A chess players will find the course simple) will learn the holes in endgame knowledge that most good chess players have. From distant oppositions to dizzying triangulations to knight mates (well not really), students will have mastered basic to advanced endgame mating techniques and solidly understood the most important aspect of the game, for without understanding the endgame, middlegame strategy would be shapeless.


Class Style
Activity

Prerequisites
Basic chess terminology, rules, and the ability to refrain from using the word horsey for the knight.

X13743: Why haven't we solved climate change yet?

Earth is warming! But what does this mean for the nature around us? How are we as humans affected and why is it so hard to adapt or even stop it? In this course we will step in the shoes of scientists, businesspeople and policymakers to get to know more about climate change and how it interconnects all sorts of disciplines. We will understand why our climate system changes, dive down to coral reefs and feel the warming in the Arctic. We will use game theory to understand why we tend to overuse resources; and finally, we will become part of the United Nations Climate Change committee to discuss political actions. Accompany us on our journey and learn that changing the world is difficult but possible. Perhaps that change starts with you?


Class Style
Activity

Prerequisites
Students who enjoy this class like as well… … discussions with peers. … lab experiments. … stepping into other peoples' shoes. ... winning games. … making, testing and playing with models. … becoming active in the fight against climate change.

X13766: Miscellaneous Activity Block
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Matthew Cox, Jeffery Li

Experience a new miscellaneous topic every week through engaging one-time activities such as (tentatively) a puzzle hunt, board games, and demonstrations with liquid nitrogen.


Class Style
Lecture