Spark! 2010
Course Catalog

Filter Catalog by Grade:

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

This is the catalog for Spark 2010. The Spark 2011 catalog will become available on February 16 in the late evening.


[ Return to Category List ]

Intro to Photographic Composition Full!
Teachers: Emily Seitz

Want to learn how to take interesting photographs? Come see how to compose your pictures using the rule-of-thirds, zoom, and angles. We'll also be exploring the MIT campus to illustrate these principles!

interest in photography and a camera (preferably digital)

The Whistling Ensemble
Teachers: Ben Sena

Whistling en masse.

Preferably be able to whistle. Cannot whistle but would like to learn? Don't give me those puppy dog eyes... alright you can come, too, but you'll have to learn quickly. Feel free to bring ensemble music if you have any that you'd like us to whistle. We'll go over things like range extension as well.

Introduction to Voice Acting Full!
Teachers: Johari Frasier

Ever wondered about the process used to bring your favorite animated characters to life? Well you can learn about it here. There will also be an opportunity to try your hand at voicing a radio demo.

Origami - The Art of Paper Folding!
Teachers: Srav Puranam

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make a hat, boat, or even a crane out paper? Then join us for a fun course on origami - the art of paper folding! We'll teach you the basics and you'll get to create all sorts of objects and shapes in a fun, relaxed setting!


The Guitar Orchestra
Teachers: Ben Sena

Jealous of those large gatherings of musicians who play more "sophisticated" instruments? Come gather a large amount of guitars with us! Bass guitars welcome as well, of course.

Bring a guitar, and an amplifier if you only have a guitar that requires one (you might also need an extension chord), though I would prefer you bring an acoustic guitar if you have one. Also be able to read either staff notation or guitar tablature ("TAB"). Contact me for information on where you may store your equipment before and after the class. If you have an idea of what you think we can play, and can find/produce an arrangement of it for multiple parts, feel free to email me.

How to be a fashion icon

"So Cosmo says you're fat. Well I ain't down with that."

Interested in what makes a person fashionable? Curious as to how certain outfits draw your eye? Come and learn how to personalize your "look" whether it be punk, prep, posh, etc. Open to both males and females of all styles.

An open mind and an interest in fashion/design :D

Chinese Knots

Tie some pretty looking knots, far superior to useful knots.*

*Not for use on shoes, while rock climbing, and the like

String Bead: The Mini Tiger Full!
Teachers: Stephanie Lin

Come celebrate the Year of the Tiger by learning to craft a small bead-and-wire tiger figurine! A popular sculpture medium in many Asian countries, string beading can be used to make fun keychains, cell phone ornaments, and other neat little trinkets for family and friends.

Comics and Manga: Storytelling and Production
Teachers: Jennifer Fu

Sequential art (also known as comics or graphic novels) is a rich and complex art form that involves more than just superheroes and giant robots. Learn how to turn comic-style artwork into living and breathing comic stories. This class is split into two one-hour focus sessions; the first centers on sequential art storytelling, including panelling, page composition, angle shots, and final effects such as lettering and rendering. The second session walks through the comic production process step-by-step, from the concept and storyboarding to the final product and beyond. (NOTE: Although these techniques are applicable for most kinds of comics, this class will be taught with slightly greater emphasis on manga, or Japanese sequential art.)

Basic drawing experience suggested, but not required

Cinematic Secrets: Symbolism on the Screen
Teachers: E Rosser

A picture is worth a thousand words; films are lots and lots of pictures... You do the math: movies have a lot to say, and there is meaning in each and every shot in a movie. Everything you see on-screen, from the closeup on the leading actor to the color of the extra's dog in the background, is a carefully crafted decision. Analyzing these decisions is fun, leads to things you never noticed before, and, in the end, gives you a much fuller movie experience.
In this class we'll take a look at several well-crafted movies, examine some clever cinematic techniques, and try to look beyond what meets the eye. You'll never watch movies the same again!

A love for the cinema and an open mind.

Baroque Rhetoric for Musicians
Teachers: Ari Nieh

"Musical execution may be compared with the delivery of an orator. The orator and the musician have, at bottom, the same aim in regard to both the preparation and the final execution of their productions, namely to make themselves masters of the hearts of their listeners, to arouse or still their passions, and to transport them now to this sentiment, now to that. Thus it is advantageous to both, if each has some knowledge of the duties of the other."
- Johann Joachim Quantz, "On Playing the Flute", 1752

Tha ancient Greek art of rhetoric was once a cornerstone of education in the Western world. Virtually every musician of the 17th and 18th century was familiar with its principles, and frequently made use of them in the composition and interpretation of music. We will follow in their footsteps, learning to perform baroque music persuasively with the techniques of rhetoric.

All are welcome, although this will be of particular interest to musicians and actors. If it is convenient to do so, feel free to bring your instrument to class.

Enjoying Comics
Teachers: Paul Kominers

In this class, we'll explain definitively why Superman can beat the Flash. Okay, not really, but we will discuss the history and theory of comics, and explain how the comics industry became the way it is. Also, we'll talk about Batman.

Improv Workshop
Teachers: Volunteer Teacher

Do you have the funny? Do you want to learn how to get it? Come learn about the truth in comedy as taught by MIT’s premier improv group: Roadkill Buffet.

Computer Science

[ Return to Category List ]

Introduction to Computability Theory
Teachers: Justin Pombrio

Come learn about what about what computers *can't* do, no matter how powerful they get. We will discuss, and where possible prove, the following facts:

- All computers can solve the same problems, given enough time and memory.
- The problems that a computer can solve can also be solved by hand, given enough time. Likewise, problems that can be solved by hand can also be solved by computers.
- There are problems that no computer can solve efficiently.
- There are problems that no computer can solve at all.

Introduction to Python for Beginners Full!
Teachers: Michael Axiak

No, we will not be learning zoology or watching Flying Circus. Python is a very expressive computer language that can be used to make your computer do just about anything.

This class will first introduce you to basic syntax. Then we will explore all of the packages available to you, and we will hopefully look at creating a simple game using pygame.

A background in programming is helpful

Regular expressions Full!
Teachers: Catherine Olsson

Regular expressions are a way to systematically describe and search for pieces of text that match certain patterns. Known as "wildcards on steroids" by some random guy on the internet, regular expressions can be used to scrape a document for email addresses, to find every instance of your name at the start of a sentence, or to track down the killer and save the day (

We'll start by learning the basics, and once you've mastered that you'll get to challenge each other to a variety of regex duels!

No programming experience necessary. If you have a laptop with "grep" installed, feel free to bring it. (Unix and Mac should have grep already. Windows users can install or any other similar program)


Quines and Other Self-Referential Forms
Teachers: Leonid Grinberg

Imagine a machine that can make an exact replica of itself. Such a self-referencing machine is called a "quine", and it is one of the most beautiful and important concepts in computer science, with applications to a wide variety of fields.

Come to this class to learn some of the theory behind quines as well as some of their most important applications. Along the way, we''ll talk about a variety of important mathematical, computational, and philosophical problems having to do with quines.

If you know how to program, you might get a bit more out of this class, but it's certainly not required.

NLP for the lazy

Ever wish your computer would write that pesky history paper for you? Wish there was an iphone app for that? People actually study how that dream can be accomplished! Natural Language Processing is the branch of computer science concerned with studying human languages and modeling them in ways so that computers can easily understand and generate coherent text.
By the end of this class, you will have created a grammar for the English language and take a stab at generating understandable text from it.

Basic understanding of probability and the English language.

Processor Architecture and Design
Teachers: Greg Steinbrecher

Just *what* does that really hot processor that runs your computer do? What do those GHz really mean? What is cache? This class starts with transistors and works (quickly) up to a fully functional processor.

Basic understanding of electrical engineering or circuits is extremely helpful. Understanding of basic Boolean logic (AND, OR, NOR, XOR) will be helpful.

How to be anonymous on the internet: an introduction to Tor
Teachers: Jack Hill

Anonymity is a compliment to encryption on the internet. Encryption prevents me from seeing what you are saying. Anonymity prevents me from seeing with whom you are talking. This class will in investigate both the technical challenges that Tor addresses and the social implications of anonymity. Example users of Tor include political activists in Iran, law enforcement officers carrying out under cover operations, and corporations visiting competitors websites.


The Unicode Standard 5.0: A Dramatic Reading

In the history of alphabets and languages can be traced the history of man and the development of nations, and in the history of computer encodings of characters can be traced the history of computing and telecommunications. Join us for a journey through the Unicode standard, the standard for computer representation of text, encoding over 100,000 characters from around the world. In the process, we'll also learn the historical context behind the development of various languages, scripts, and pre-Unicode electronic encodings.

We'll discuss such topics as Saints Cyril and Methodius, the "loopy" phi, whether Chinese, Japanese, and Korean should use the same character set, the English spelling reforms of George Bernard Shaw and of the Mormons, the letter G, handling bidirectional text, newlines, and the SMALL HIGH DOTLESS HEAD OF KHAH.


How the Web Works Full!
Teachers: Leonid Grinberg

Have you ever wondered what really happens between the time you click "post" on your Facebook status, and when it appears in real-time on all your friends' news feeds? It turns out there's quite a lot going on behind the scenes.

Come to this class to find out the inner workings of the Web. We'll start off by discussing the very early roots of the Web, and its evolution from a simple document-sharing platform to the rich-media application platform that it is today. Along the way, we'll talk about new technologies that were developed to make this change happen, such as HTTP cookies, JavaScript (and later AJAX), and other "Web 2.0" technologies. We'll also spend a lot of time talking about security of the Web, as well as the development of various server-side technologies like databases and frameworks that were developed to facilitate this shift. (If you don't know what any of the things in this paragraph mean, don't worry! Come to this class and find out!)

Note: This class will NOT teach you how to make your own website. We will discuss various languages and technologies that are used in creating websites, but how to actually make them is outside the scope of the class. If you already know how to make a website, you can still gain a lot from coming to this class, and if you don't, taking this class will help a lot if you ever do take a class on web design. After the lecture, I will send out some links to resources you can use to learn more about the subject, and I will include some good resources for learning about web design specifically.

If you understand the sentence "open a web browser and go to Google", you have the prerequisites for this class. No web design or programming knowledge is required (though if you do know some, that's great).

Advanced Python
Teachers: Michael Axiak

Python is a very extensive language that has support for many idioms. Even though you may think you know Python, there are many features of the language that are subtle and not used often enough. Given the breadth of knowledge, this will be more of a survey of the advanced topics.

A brief list of things we will try to learn:
- Variadic functions
- Partial, decorators, higher order procedures, closures, reduce
- Generators and the iteration protocol
- Threading (and implications of GIL)
- Metaclasses
- Coroutines
- Tail call optimization

A working knowledge of Python.

Linux system administration in $RANDOM easy steps
Teachers: Ken Arnold

Linux can turn a lowly laptop computer into a very capable server, automate repetitive tasks, or help you keep a bajillion files straight. Learn about shell scripts, package management, server configuration (including web servers), and some other fun stuff like virtualization.

Also come with questions (how does it work?) and ideas (wouldn't it be cool if my laptop could...?).

It will help to have played with Linux before; poke around in with an Ubuntu live CD for a few hours beforehand.

Teachers: Melissa Kaufman

Let's say we have a list of numbers in ascending order spanning many orders of magnitude. We use our computer to add them up and get an answer. Now we put them in descending order, add them, and get a different result! This class will explain why this happens. Numerics are useful for knowing error bands for calculations made on computers. It is used in all fields of engineering.

Algebra, know exponentials. Calculus might be useful but not essential.

Operating Systems

A remarkable amount of stuff happens "behind the scenes" when you
press Alt+Tab on your computer to switch between your web browser
playing a YouTube video and your word processor displaying that
English assignment you're procrastinating on. Come to this class to
learn about (a small fraction of) them!

You should be comfortable with using computers and should have at least some minimal exposure to programming. If you can write a function to add up all the integers from 1 to N, you should be fine.

Bootstrap: Create Your Own Videogame in Scheme

Bootstrap is an afterschool program that teaches middle schoolers across the country how to program video games in Scheme. Normally, it runs for 10 weeks. We have 3 hours.

...This is going to be fun!

None! This course is recommended for those who have never taken Algebra, or are currently taking Algebra. Students should also have zero programming experience.

Living Optimally with Dynamic Programming
Teachers: Letitia Li

Imagine on Halloween, some grouch only lets you keep a certain weight in loot. How would you optimize your candy-induced happiness for the next year, while you plot revenge against that grouch? Learn a certain type of optimization algorithms along with map-finding and other algorithms.


Ever wanted to learn Scheme? Have you heard of functional programming, but never learned any functional languages?

Come to our class, and we’ll teach you the basics of Scheme, and how to learn more.

Significant programming experience, but no Scheme.

Algorithms for Awesome

Algorithms rock
But sometimes they don’t make sense
Segmentation fault

Topics: Big-O (runtime analysis), sorting, searching, data structures (heaps, trees), graph theory (flood-fill, disjoint set, Dijkstra’s algorithm).

In order to put things in context, it would be good to know how to program (e.g. C, C++, Java, Lisp, Python, Ruby). However, as long as you have an understanding of how computers work, you'll probably be fine.

Metacircular Scheming
Teachers: Aviv Ovadya

An impractical introduction to Scheme, a ridiculously flexible and powerful programming language. I will teach how to implement Scheme in Scheme, while learning Scheme.

This class is meant for people who don’t know Scheme (or other Lisp variants). However, you should have some minimum programming experience - you should know how to use if statements, functions and recursion.


[ Return to Category List ]

Hands-on Introduction to Space Systems Engineering Full!
Teachers: Phillip Cunio

This course will provide a quick theoretical discussion of space systems engineering as practiced in vehicle development projects, and then follow this with a presentation about an actual ongoing vehicle development project at MIT. The course will conclude with a brief tour of the lab where the vehicle is being developed, and, if possible, a demonstration of the vehicle.


Dimensional Analysis - An Engineer's essential tool
Teachers: Mukul K SINGH

As the title says itself, dimensional analysis is a simplest, yet one of the most important tool for any engineer or scientist . Mastering the concept in this class can really aid anyone who wants to pursue engineering in college or just want to do well in SAT.


Railroad Engineering
Teachers: Jack Hill

An overview of how trains work and why they work this way. We will cover historic steam locomotives and modern electrified high speed trains.

Cerebral Meteorology: How to Brainstorm
Teachers: E Rosser

Brainstorming. The phrase leaves students clueless and teachers pleased to shove off the leadership role on someone else. But what does it really mean? Can such a vague corporate buzzword really lead to anything productive? And how do you best pick the collective brain of your group?
Leave the pencil, pad, and name-tag at home: this is brainstorming for results--immediate, useful, and exhilarating. Planning should make you excited for a project, and this class will help you find that excitement and get pumped for the development stage--a critical part of any engineering task. A world of ideas awaits!

An open mind and enthusiasm.

Adventures in Synthetic Biology Full!
Teachers: Alioth Drinkwater

This course will take you from high school biology up to understanding a particular engineered system -- a bacterium that takes photographs. We’ll explore such mysteries as the bacterial two-component signaling system, the language of phosphorylation, and how to wire input A to output B. We’ll discuss the basic tenets of synthetic biology — what it'll take to make biology a Real Engineering Discipline, with libraries of standard parts and off-the-shelf-installable logic gates.

High school biology or equivalent understanding of cells and biological molecules. High school chemistry also desirable but not strictly necessary. You should be familiar with the "Basics of Genes and Proteins" part of <>.

Railroad engineering: quantititative analysis
Teachers: Jack Hill

What kind of computations are involved in designing railroad systems and equipment? Find out as we calculate wave propagation speed on catenary wires and the thermodynamics of a steam engine.

Prior knowledge of wave mechanics or thermodynamics is not required, or expected. General comfort with algebra, trigonometry, simple physics is a plus.

Work-arounds, Jury-rigs, and Backyard Engineering Full!
Teachers: E Rosser

Human. Human want food. Human can't get food. Human make tool. Tool get food. Human happy!
Flash forward a couple thousand years. We're a tad more concerned with precision microscopy and space exploration these days, but essentially, we are still humans using tools. Sometimes, however, these tools break, and fixing them has to be quick, cheap, and effective.
In this class we'll examine the art and science of quick fixes: the creativity of kludges, the elegance behind being inelegant, the beauty of quick-n-dirty solutions. We'll find examples, swap tales of epic wins, and visit some favorite methods and old friends of Backyard Engineers.

A strong stomach and stronger sense of DIY.

Building a Satellite Full!

Members of MIT's CASTOR satellite team will teach you about what it takes to design and build a satellite.

Rocket/Composites Design and Fabrication Class

Ever want to learn how rockets are designed and built? How about how to use composite materials, which if used properly, can have significant benefits over traditional materials, such as metals. This class will discuss how rockets work and what goes into the design of a rocket. Then it will discuss how composites are generally fabricated and students will get a chance to make their own rocket fins out of composite materials.

This class is sponsored by the Rocket Team of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS).


Lightning Crystals! Building Piezoelectric Sensors
Teachers: Ben Sena

Have you ever wondered how how a digital drum works? This class will explore the physics and applications of the piezoelectric effect, which is the ability of some substances to directly transform electrical potentials and mechanical stresses. This gives us the ability to make cool things like "contact microphones." We will make piezoelectric transducers and see what we can amplify. Feel free to bring fun things like guitars, rubber bands, and Slinkys (SLINKYS!).

Prerequisites Do not feel obligated to read or to understand everything.

Introduction to Origami: A Survey in Folding, Design, & Analysis
Teachers: Jason Ku

This workshop is designed to be a crash course introduction to folding, designing, and analyzing representational origami. The first hour introduces the art, literature, history, and practice of origami. The second and third hours will be much more technical, focusing on design, analysis, and mathematics.

First Hour. History and Folding

A brief overview of the history of origami will be presented, including its transition from a static, ceremonial tradition to a dynamic, artistic engineering science. Basic folding vocabulary and diagram notation will be reviewed: distinction between elementary and compound folding maneuvers; the idea of an origami base; the usefulness of the creasepattern.

Second and Third Hour. Design, Analysis, and Mathematics

The tree theory method of representational origami design with respect to uniaxial bases will be introduced. Circle/river packing and the idea of the origami molecule will be applied to an example, in addition to the converse problem of analyzing a creasepattern to determine the structure of the folded model. The ideas of flat-foldability and elevation will be stated in the context of Maekawa and Kawasaki’s theorems. Lastly, a broad overview of topics in origami mathematics will be examined: the Huzita-Hatori folding axioms; folding exact and numerically approximate proportions; the universality result.

Note that students in 7th and 8th grade are welcome in the first section too (though not the second section since it's in the high-school-only timeblock). Speak to a check-in volunteer to add it.

Basic high school level mathematics and an open mind. Please contact instructor privately if you have questions regarding qualification.


[ Return to Category List ]

Paradoxes of Democracy: Fair Elections and Voting
Teachers: Stephen M. Hou

Come learn ideas with applications in mathematics, economics, engineering, and political science! What if, in hypothetical two-way races during the 2008 primaries, Clinton beats Obama, Obama beats Edwards, and Edwards beats Clinton? Is this even possible? (Yes.) What would then be a fair way to decide the "best" preferences of Democrats? Whether it's a T-shirt design contest or a presidential election, voting converts preferences of individuals into a single preference for the community. We'll discuss Arrow's Impossibility Theorem, which states that there is no "perfect" way of doing so. We'll demonstrate a few of the mind-boggling flaws that every voting method must have.

Comfort with arithmetic; interest in voting, political science, decision-making, and/or economics.

Building a Society (Philosophy MiniWorkshop) Full!
Teachers: Sophie Monahan

One day you and everyone in Boston are kidnapped by aliens. The aliens are going to download your minds into the bodies of people who are colonizing another planet. But before they do this, they've picked ten of you randomly and are allowing you one hour to write the laws of society on the new colony. You can build whatever kind of system you want, but you don't know whether you'll end up downloaded into someone who's powerful or weak, rich or poor, smart or dumb. Work together and discuss what is morally relevant in the kind of society you'd like to live in.

You *must* be willing to actively participate and speak up. Philosophy is not a spectator sport!

Things that Are (Philosophy MiniWorkshop) Full!
Teachers: Sophie Monahan

Ontology, a branch of metaphysics, is the study of what it means for something to exist.
Let's list all the types of things there are in the universe. What would our list look like? How would we categorize it? We will take some physics into account while probing the nature of more abstract things like space and time.

You *must* be willing to actively participate and speak up. Philosophy is not a spectator sport!

Introduction to Chinese Writing
Teachers: Stephen M. Hou

Chinese writing is unique among the world's major languages in that it uses thousands of characters as opposed to an alphabet with a few dozen letters. We will learn some basic characters, the structure of characters, the distinction between traditional and simplified scripts, calligraphic styles and typographical fonts, how new characters are created and how Chinese characters are used in the modern Japanese and Korean languages. I will discuss why the Chinese language did not (and will likely never) switch to an alphabetical writing system. If time permits, I will demonstrate how Chinese is typed on a computer. Since the focus of this class is intended to introduce you to the concept of Chinese writing, we will not be learning Chinese conversational phrases or grammar.

This class is intended for students with very little or no previous experience with Chinese, but previous study of any other foreign language is strongly recommended.

Newcomb's Paradox Full!
Teachers: David Farhi

What does it mean to act rationally? In this class we’ll discuss Newcomb’s paradox, a strange philosophical question about the meaning of rationality. We may get sidetracked into discussions of free will, time travel, and parallel universes.

Grammar Tips 'n' Tricks Full!
Teachers: Avril Kenney

In this class we'll go over some basic ideas of English grammar and style - the little things that make a big difference in how professional your writing sounds. There will be some focus on topics assessed by the Writing section of the SAT.

This is a class for people who DON'T know much about writing style already.

How to Argue
Teachers: Caitlin Mehl

Contrary to popular belief in this century, the correct rebuttal to an argument is never “u r stoopid”.
In this fast-paced, one-time class on persuasion we will review the classy and effective way to form good arguments. Over the course of one hour we will go through basic strategy of both formal persuasion such as essays and APDA style debate, as well informal arguments, a rebuttal pyramid, and Paul Graham's article 'How to Disagree”. This course will cover both theory of argumentation as well as real-world examples and application. No prior experience necessary.


More Highlights of Communications Law
Teachers: Paul Kominers

Following up on the wildly successful H2646 from Splash 2009, we'll discuss some more great Supreme Court cases in communications history. This time we're talking about obscenity and indecency in broadcasting; come and find out why you can't say certain words on the radio.

No background required. Just show up with an interest.

Health Care Reform OR Is The Government Broken
Teachers: Michael Shaw

For the past year, the US has been embroiled in a debate over health care. We all know that the status quo is unsustainable, as anyone with a pre-existing condition will testify. But there is great consternation over possible solutions, and their impacts on you and me.

Join us for a one hour discussion on how the American health care system got into its current state, why effecting change is so difficult, and possible roads forward from the current deadlock.

Modern Poetry Full!
Teachers: Melissa Ko

Come read and discuss well-known modern poems. We will first briefly go over the history of modernist poetry and common themes/stylistic choices, before reading through work that famously represents the movement.

Some poets we may cover are pre-modernists Dickinson and Whitman, modernists Eliot, Pound, Moore, Stevens, Williams, cummings, and some postmodernists.

interest in poetry and maturity to handle subject matter

Why is it Wrong to Cut in Line? (A Philosopher's Approach) Full!
Teachers: Sophie Monahan

I'm going to tell you a children's story about Sarah and Katie, two friends who are waiting in line for some waffles. Katie really wants some waffles, and she's worried that there won't be any left by the time they get to the front of the line. She asks, "Why is it wrong to cut in line?" Sarah thinks about it, and comes up with a lot of possible answers that don't seem quite right. Can you help Sarah answer Katie's questions? We will briefly explore the wide-reaching range of moral philosophy.

You *must* be willing to actively participate and speak up. Philosophy is not a spectator sport!

Paradoxes of Democracy: Fair Apportionment
Teachers: Stephen M. Hou

Come learn ideas with applications in mathematics, economics, engineering, and political science! What happens when perfectly fair division isn't possible? Say you and your two siblings inherit your parents' cattle ranch, but the number of cattle isn't a multiple of three. How do you split the cattle? At the national level, how do we apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives? If a state's population indicates that it deserves 7.23 seats, is it awarded 7 seats or 8 seats? Or maybe even 6 or 9? Interesting paradoxes in fair division will be shown. For example, can a state lose a seat if the size of the House is increased by a seat (and the populations of all states remain unchanged)? You'll see...

Comfort with arithmetic; interest in voting, political science, decision-making, and/or economics.

The Politics of European Soccer
Teachers: Diyang Tang

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but soccer by another name is a bigger deal. In Europe, as in many other places, “football” is important enough for us to use it to examine dynamics in European society and politics. This class will show you exactly how much you can determine about a place from soccer, and why we can determine all of that.

Interest in European soccer.

Heresies of the early church Full!
Teachers: Ken Arnold

Are you a heretic? You'd find yourself in good company in the first century AD. What made heresy so attractive in the early Christian church? Is there really such thing as "orthodoxy" anyway, or did the winners write the history books?

We'll look at some of the heresies of early Christianity and compare them to the "orthodox" views of the time. We'll ask why these variant ideas were attractive, see what happened to them...and maybe even make up a few of our own.

Independent critical thinking. Don't take this class if you're afraid your parents might burn you at the stake.

Tough Decisions (Philosophy MiniWorkshop) Full!
Teachers: Sophie Monahan

The ten of you form a panel that is regularly faced with tough decisions under very constrained circumstances. In this way, we will explore some common philosophical thought experiments. You will wrestle with decision-making and explore the motivations and reasoning behind your choices and intuitions.

You *must* be willing to actively participate and speak up. Philosophy is not a spectator sport!

Section 230
Teachers: Paul Kominers

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act establishes protection for website hosts or owners against prosecution for content posted to the website by third parties.

In this class, we'll talk about exactly what everything I just said means, the case that gave rise to Section 230, and some of the better cases that have invoked it since.

No background required. Just show up with an interest.

Free-form Philosophy Full!

Since the days of Socrates, and his dialogues with random passers-by in the town square, wandering philosophical discussion has been an important part of the noble history of philosophy. So come and philosophize!!

The discussion will be mostly driven by the students; we'll provide some questions to spark the conversation and some background on the Socratic method and useful philosophical debate.

Introduction to Mandarin Chinese
Teachers: Michael Axiak, Yalu Wu

Have you ever wondered how to order General Gau's chicken in a (Mandarin) Chinese restaurant? Does Chinese sound like gibberish to you?

In this class, we will learn the very basics of Chinese. We will learn the elements of the system of writing, pronunciation systems, and basic vocabulary. If nothing else, this class should get you on your way to parsing the different sounds into a language.

Intro to the Japanese Language

Have any interest in Japan? Come learn a bit about the language! We'll give you a basic introduction to both spoken and written Japanese, with an emphasis on speaking. This class is not for students who have taken Japanese before or for students who have taught themselves Japanese though anime. Expect to learn a lot in this class but still feel absolutely clueless by the end of it; Japanese is an incredibly complex language and we'll barely be able to scratch the surface in three hours.


Even More Highlights of Communications Law
Teachers: Paul Kominers

This is the threequel to H2646 from Splash 2009. They say in Avenue Q that the internet is really really great for, ah, certain things. but is it actually? We'll be talking about obscenity and indecency on the internet, including Reno v. ACLU and Nitke, et. al. v. Ashcroft.

No background required. Just show up with an interest.

Minds and Machines Full!

How does consciousness relate to the physical body? Do we all experience sensations like "red" and "cold" in the same way? How important is language to the way we think? Could a machine be conscious? What prerequisites would such a conscious machine require - a robot body? a quantum CPU? emotions? These are the sorts of
questions that are considered by philosophers of mind. In this class, we'll present some of their arguments and have a lively discussion about these kinds of questions and the intersection of philosophy of mind with current neuroscience.

A brain, a mind, an interest in these, and the ability to argue logically.

Intro to the Japanese Language: Part Two!

Still interested in Japanese despite having taken our other class? Come get some more exposure to the language, then have more information thrown at you, including how to find lessons in your area and what you should study on your own.

3314: Intro to the Japanese Language

Parliamentary Debate
Teachers: Simone Agha

Decorum! Learn how to write your own bills and debate them using the much-loved Robert's Rules of Order.

Every US Presidential Election from 1788 to 2008
Teachers: Bruce Arthur

In this class we will examine every single US Presidential election from the adoption of the Constitution in 1788 to the most recent election in 2008.

This will be primarily a history, rather than political science, class. We will learn about the major candidates, the major issues, the results, and a bit about how the winner performed afterward. The class will be an excellent way to get a broad understanding of American political history and should help you with any US history classes you might be taking now or in the future.

Only Fools Buy Moon Land: An Introduction to Space Policy

Since the beginning of the space race deep in the heart of the Cold War, international policies have tried to steer the course of space exploration into an international, peaceful endeavor to benefit all mankind.

This course will focus on major international space treaties, like the Outer Space Treaty and the Moon Treaty, and how they may or may not be relevant in the future of space exploration. Students will also discuss key policy decisions that the United States has made regarding manned space exploration over the course of the space age.

This class is sponsored by the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) at MIT. For more information about MIT-SEDS, visit


[ Return to Category List ]

Lunch Period

Enjoy a break for lunch with your friends! Please register for at least one lunch period.


[ Return to Category List ]

Teachers: Holden Lee

Why can integers be factored uniquely into primes? In proving this fundamental fact, we will discover how to generalize the idea of factoring to other number systems, such as complex numbers, as well as to polynomials.

Algebra, especially knowledge of complex numbers.

Circuits over Sets of Natural Numbers
Teachers: Jason Gross

This class will be a discussion about the math research I’ve been doing for the past three years. I will talk about the various problems I’ve been investigating (see below for a brief overview), and then we will discuss the progress that I’ve made, the open problems I’m currently working on, or whatever aspects of the topic you find interesting.

Consider the operations union, intersection, complementation, addition, and multiplication on sets of natural numbers (where the sum or product of two sets is the set of sums or products). What are all the sets that can be constructed, starting from one element sets of natural numbers? For example, the set of composite numbers (along with 0) is definable as $$\overline{\{1\}} \times \overline{\{1\}}$$ (where ¯ is complementation). The set of squares (1, 4, 9, 16, …), however, is believed to not be definable. Another question we can ask is, is it possible (and if so, how long will it take) to decide if a given number is in the set defined by a given formula? What if you disallow some of the operations?

Familiarity with basic set theory, exposure to proofs. If you can understand and/or, you should be fine. If you can understand, you'll have no problem (if you can't understand it, don't worry).

Counter-intuitive Probability and Random Math
Teachers: Letitia Li

How do you solve the Monty Hall problem? And what is the algorithm for stable matching? Learn random surprising math problems.

The Real Numbers
Teachers: Daniel Zaharopol

What is a real number? Probably no one's ever told you. Is it just anything that can be written with an infinite decimal expansion? How can you even define something like that?

We're going to define the real numbers, from scratch. Along the way, I'll briefly explain how to construct the natural numbers, the integers, and the rational numbers. You'll see how to define arithmetic, from scratch, on these sets, as well as multiplication, and you'll see how mathematicians can precisely define what a number really is.

This class is going to be *very* hard and abstract. You should only come to it if you're looking for a real mathematical challenge, something entirely outside the realm of what you see in school. If you've ever asked yourself, "how could such a thing exist?" then this may be the class for you.

An appetite for abstraction. Note that this class is essentially Part I of a two-part class, continuing in "Infinite Series, Decimal Expansions, e, and the Complex Numbers."

Euclid was Wrong: Spherical and Hyperbolic Geometry Full!
Teachers: Ruth Byers

Can you imagine a world in which parallel lines intersect and the sum of the angles in a triangle is more than 180 degrees? You should be able to- you live on one! Learn what happens to lines where there are no flat surfaces.

Become a LaTeXer!
Teachers: Jason Gross

Want to learn how to use LaTeX to format your mathematical formulae like this: $$\sum_{n=1}^{\infty}\frac{1}{n^2} = \frac{\pi^2}{6}$$? Want to make your English teachers think you’re crazy for having your papers formatted nicely in scientific form? Come learn the basics of LaTeX, the standard mathematical typesetting language. Works on any platform. We provide the computers. But we’ll tell you how to install it on your own computers.

Although we’ll provide example mathematics to typeset, you’ll probably get more out of the class if you bring your own mathematics to typeset (e.g. notes or homework from your math class).

If you want to use your laptop instead, you should install MiKTeX and TeXnicCenter (either together from, or separately from and, or another LaTeX editor (if you don’t use windows) before you arrive; the installation of MiKTeX can take about half an hour to an hour.

Logic: the price of certainty
Teachers: Mark Wittels

In this class we'll take a peek at what lies "behind the curtain," so to speak, in mathematics. What is a "theorem" or a "proof" really? What is it that we really know in mathematics, and how do we know it? What is it that we cannot know? A small introduction into a much-neglected field.

Counting to Infinity
Teachers: Daniel Bulmash

We all know how to count, but what is counting, really? And how big is infinity? Are there multiple sizes of infinity? (Yes there are!) What do these questions have to do with each other? In this class, we will answer these and other interesting questions that pop up when you deal with infinity.

Comfort with functions (with related notation) and basic set operations (union, intersection).

Infinite Series, Decimal Expansions, e, and the Complex Numbers
Teachers: Daniel Zaharopol

You're probably familiar with the idea that $$1 + \frac{1}{2} + \frac{1}{4} + \frac{1}{8} + \cdots = 2.$$ Amazingly enough, we can sum together infinitely many numbers --- and we can define what this means rigorously, and prove it. (Of course, you need to know what the real numbers are first, so you should have taken "The Real Numbers!") We're going to explore these infinite sums, using them to explain what a decimal expansion really is, how to define the transcendental number e, and finally apply what we've learned to sum together infinitely many complex numbers and understand some fundamental properties of this field.

This class is going to be *very* hard. You should only come to it if you're looking for a real mathematical challenge, something entirely outside the realm of what you see in school.

How To Write Proofs

To truly understand math, one has to know how to write proofs. Surprisingly, few are taught how to do so in school. Using maximum ridiculosity, we'll go into detail regarding how to read and write them!

A basic understanding of math.

Intuitive Calculus
Teachers: David Farhi

If you've always wondered what calculus is but haven't had a chance to see it, come try it out! I will try to demystify calculus and give you a feel for what it does and how it works. If you're planning to take calculus next year, this class will probably help build your intuition; if you already know what a derivative is, this class will be too simple.

High School Algebra.

Integration Techniques
Teachers: Lucas Tambasco

Having difficulties evaluating some integrals? Curious about some tricky substitutions that can make your calculus life a bit easier? In this class we'll cover the integration techniques in single variable calculus, such as integration by parts, partial fractions, trigonometric substitution etc.

Calculus Honors/ AB

Transfinite Numbers - Comparing the Infinite
Teachers: Jayson Lynch

How many numbers are there? What is twice infinity? What's bigger than infinity? How can infinitely many actually be very few?

We will answer such questions with an introduction to Cantor's work on transfinite numbers. We will discuss some basic Set Theory, how we can compare infinite sets, and some of the implications of different cardinalities of infinite sets.

Some comfort with mathematical proofs.

Wanna Bet? Interesting Puzzles from Betting and Probability
Teachers: Stephen M. Hou

Are you the type who calculates the odds of getting a particular hand when you play poker? Do you enjoy explaining the Monty Hall problem to your parents and friends? If so, this class is for you! We will examine some classic puzzles that involve betting or probability. If time permits, I'll discuss the mathematical, economic, and psychological reasons why people buy insurance policies and lottery tickets, even though they know that, on average, they will lose money in the long run (and the insurance companies and lottery commissions will earn a profit). Note: This class is intended to teach mathematics and to have fun solving challenging puzzles. This is NOT to promote or endorse gambling.

Participants should enjoy math puzzles and challenges. Experience with math contests like AMC, AIME, ARML, or HMMT is highly recommended. Must be familiar with probability to the extent that you can calculate (a) the probability that exactly two heads will come up if I flip a fair coin three times and (b) the probability that a random selection of five cards from a standard 52-card deck without replacement will result in five cards of the same suit (a flush, including straight/royal flush).


[ Return to Category List ]

Solving Difficult Mechanics Problems
Teachers: Ky-Anh Tran

Do vertiginous incline planes make you perspire? Do rolling cylinders, collisions of blocks, pulley mass systems make you excited?

If so, this is the class for you. We will together solve the awesome problems in mechanics that do not require calculus, using only Newtonian mechanics (the first thing we learn in high school physics) and some precalculus. I will share with you my tips and tricks in solving difficult mechanics problems. Furthermore, this class will serve as a decent warm up (and maybe more) for those of you interested in Physics olympiad.

In the process, we will examine the greatest hits in standard introductory level mechanics problems, pulled from an almanac of hair-pulling/ elegant problems in physics:
-Irodov Problems in General Physics
-David Morin’s Classical Mechanics
-An “Introduction” to Mechanics by Kleppner and Kolenkow.

AP Physics (Mechanics), Precalculus, knowledge about vectors (dot&cross products)

Holography Full!
Teachers: Amy Fritz

Come and learn about the cool properties of light! We will discuss the science and math behind holograms, build spectrometers, and learn some basic optics.

Coral Reef Conservation and Ecology
Teachers: William Kalb

Do you like the ocean? Do you like fish and coral? How do you feel about coral reefs? If you answered in a vaguely positive manner to these questions, come learn about the ecology of coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. I’ll show you stuff from the mechanics of reef formation to the fish populations of reefs to the biology of a coral polyp to where, exactly, sand comes from (the answer may surprise you!). We’ll also learn about the drastic environmental plight faced by all of Earth’s reefs, but I won’t be too preachy about that.
NOTE: This is the same class as taught in Splash 2009

You must know what the ocean is and have seen a picture of a fish at some point in your life.

The Magic of Medical Imaging

In this seminar, we will explore a variety of medical imaging tools and techniques, including radiography, computed tomography (CT), nuclear medical imaging, sonography, and MRI. By investigating the underlying chemical and physical principles of medical imaging, students will gain a greater understanding of these technologies, and they will have the opportunity to ponder, discuss, and apply exciting, new concepts.

Celestial Meditation (Northen Hemishpere)
Teachers: Jessie Mueller

Looking up at the night sky is a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, we are in Boston. This class tries to recreate the relaxing experience of staring at the stars. We will talk some about constellation identification and planetary science.

Adding Speeds with Special Relativity
Teachers: Justin Pombrio

If you are moving past me at 10 miles per hour and throw a ball at 10 miles per hour, then from my perspective the ball is moving at 20 miles per hour. But if you are moving at 400 million miles per hour and throw the ball at 400 million miles per hour, then from my perspective the ball is moving at about 590 million miles per hour.

This happens because the speeds involved are close to the speed of light, which is 670,616,629 miles per hour. It is a strange consequence of Einstein's theory of special relativity. We will derive an equation for adding speeds together for very fast objects using only the fact that the speed of light is the same for everyone.

You should be familiar with high school algebra.

Drug Development 101
Teachers: Stephanie Bachar

In 1999 Americans bought close to 3 Billion prescription drugs for a total of 121 Billion dollars. That's an average of ten prescriptions per person per year.

Where do these drugs come from? How do scientists design them? How do we know drugs are safe for use?

In this class we will look at two case studies and investigate the scientific and logistical hurdles these drugs had to go through before they could go to market.

Intro Biology and Intro Chemistry will be helpful in understanding the content of this course.

Hands-On Astronomy Full!
Teachers: Ben Corbin, Eric Peters

Get hands-on with astronomy! In this two-hour class, you will learn about telescopes -- coordinate systems, alignment, focusing, eyepiece size and field of view -- during the first hour, and then move outside for a hands-on lab during the second hour. Depending on the time of the class, students will either get to observe the Sun (though a solar filter, of course!) or the stars.

This class is sponsored by the Astrophotography Team of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) at MIT.

An interest in astronomy

Pick Your Poison: An Intro to Spectroscopy
Teachers: Nathan Benjamin

I give you three unlabeled glasses: one containing water, one containing cranberry juice, and one containing a colorless poison. How do you tell (without drinking!) which is which? Well the cranberry juice is easy; just look at the color. But how about the other two? Turns out we can use light to help us, in a way quite similar to just observing color. Come to this class to find out how!

High school chemistry and physics (AP is plenty)

The Big Bang Happened Everywhere
Teachers: Molly Swanson

We live in a universe full of mysteries. You've probably heard that our universe started in a "Big Bang", but what does that really mean?
It's not a "bang" in the traditional sense, but a stretching of space itself. Understanding the true nature of this expansion reveals a surprising fact: the Big Bang happened everywhere! What's more, over 90 percent of our universe is made up of substances we don't
understand: dark matter and even more mysterious dark energy. Please come join us for an exciting discussion about our amazing universe.

an understanding of graphing in the coordinate plane

Teachers: David Farhi

Someone has probably told you that the universe is "curved", began with a "Big Bang", and is "expanding." But what does that mean? If the universe has no edges, how can it "expand"? If there was a "Big Bang", what space did it explode into? How can the universe itself be "curved"?

In this class we will start from the beginning and contemplate the evolution of the universe from experiments and logical deductions. We'll talk about what it means for the universe to be "curved" and to "expand", and why we think it does expand but is not curved. Then we'll talk about what makes it expand or contract. We will be able to use our model to predict what happened at the beginning of the universe and what will happen at the end of the universe.

High school algebra is necessary. Calculus will help.

The Incredible Water Bear!
Teachers: Ana Lyons

Come learn about, see with your own eyes, and maybe even befriend the incredible water bear!

As this miniature beast is the first member of the animal kingdom to successfully survive exposure to outer space, become a model for cutting-edge cryptobiosis research, and recently make news headlines about helping solve the quantum superposition of living organisms paradigm, you might be surprised to learn that the water bear (a transparent microscopic invertebrate with eight legs, claws, and eye spots that belongs to the phylum Tardigrada) can actually be found in virtually any film of water, fresh or marine - even in your backyard.

As an oddball of the animal kingdom, you probably won’t learn about tardigrades in your high school biology class, but come learn the little-known history of the phylum (consisting of over 1000 species), how to collect and view the adorable critter on your own with just a few basic tools, and build up your repertoire on the most recent tardigrade research with applications to medicine, molecular biology, systematics, ecology, and even quantum physics.

We’ll have demonstrations of live organisms and cool handouts, plus we’ll even talk about ways that YOU can contribute the growing pool of tardigrade knowledge. Before you know it, you’ll be your local water bear expert!

An appreciation for cuddly microorganisms and their potential applications to a wide array of scientific fields

An Introduction to Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
Teachers: Ryan Normandin

Cats that are alive and dead at the same time, other realities where you were never born, and the Law of Conservation of Mass is a complete lie. Sound like a movie? Nope, it's the world we live in. Come and have everything you thought was logical flipped on its head as you are taken through the strange results of Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, such as time dilation and black holes, along with the various interpretations of quantum mechanics, each one stranger than the next.

Algebra Geometry Calculus (not required, but one derivation will make use of it)

A Game of Tag: Protein Mechanisms
Teachers: Stephanie Bachar

Your body produces 88 pounds of ATP every day. Anyone who has taken a biology course knows that ATP is the currency of the cell. But how does it work?? ATP can help pass signals from one part of the cell to another. Through ATP "tag" a single signaling molecule outside the cell can result in a complete change of cell function.

In this class we'll explore a series of cellular protein mechanism in detail. By the end of this class you will realize that the biology of your body is governed by logical interactions that can be rationally explained.

You should have completed at least one year of high school biology (or equivalent). Chemistry will be helpful, but is not necessary.

Lagrangian mechanics: Because Newton is so yesterday

So you know all about classical mechanics, right -- you know about Newton's laws, conservation of momentum, energy, angular momentum.. all that jazz. After taking a calculus-based mechanics class, did you still wonder if there was anything more?

Well, in some sense there isn't -- the only thing "fundamental" thing we have is $$F=dp/dt$$. But we can approach mechanics in a more formal, theoretical, and much awesomer way with something called Lagrangian mechanics. From this, you can derive Newton's laws from more fundamental principles!

Comfort with single-variable calculus and Newtonian mechanics. The incurably awesome will also know what a partial derivative is.

The Big Bang Happened Everywhere
Teachers: Molly Swanson

We live in a universe full of mysteries. You've probably heard that our universe started in a "Big Bang", but what does that really mean?
It's not a "bang" in the traditional sense, but a stretching of space itself. Understanding the true nature of this expansion reveals a surprising fact: the Big Bang happened everywhere! What's more, over 90 percent of our universe is made up of substances we don't
understand: dark matter and even more mysterious dark energy. Please come join us for an exciting discussion about our amazing universe.

an understanding of graphing in the coordinate plane

A Semester of Organic Chemistry in a Day
Teachers: Daniel Levine

Organic Chemistry is absolutely everywhere. From medicine, materials and fuels to explosives, perfumes, and foods, organic chemistry affects our daily lives. Its also a course that all chemists, biologists, doctors, etc. have to take. Want to get a jump on the competition? The entire first semester MIT organic course (5.12) will be covered in this class. See some really cool chemistry, learn how to make new compounds, and get your first taste of one of the most important subjects in the 20th century.

One year of high school chemistry would be really great. If you've never seen chemistry before, that's fine, too.The more chemistry you know, the more you will be able to get out of this.

The Chemistry of Danger
Teachers: Chris Kennedy

The world is filled with danger. Explosions, poisonous gases, fires, and even pollution can really spoil your day. In this class, we'll talk about the chemistry behind all of that--what makes TNT explode, what makes nerve gases so dangerous, all the bad things that can happen to you in a lab, and more. We'll also discuss things like how my friend accidentally made nitroglycerin and how you could, with a lot of patience, enrich uranium. Basically, this is everything your chemistry teachers aren't talking about.

Two notes, though: first, there are no live demonstrations in this class; don't expect to see me blow up the room. Second, this entire class comes with a big Don't Try This At Home sticker--this class is not about doing dangerous stuff, it's about understanding it.

A year of high school chemistry will be very helpful. The more chemistry you know, the more you'll get out of the class.

Celestial Meditation (Southern Hemisphere)
Teachers: Jessie Mueller

Looking up at the night sky is a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, most of us don't have a chance to see constellations in the Southern Hemisphere. This class tries to recreate the relaxing experience of staring at the stars. We will talk some about constellation identification and planetary science.

Introduction to Electricity and Magnetism
Teachers: Srav Puranam

Have you ever wondered what powers your TV, micowave, or any other electronic? Do you want to know why your hair stands on end when you rub your head with a balloon or why socks stick together in the dryer? Then come to this class where we'll answer your questions and introduce you to this exciting branch of physics!


Engineering Projects for your Kardashev 1+ civilization

Can your civilization make effective use of all the solar energy incident on a single planet? Need some ideas for ways to use all that mass and energy? Then this class is for you.

We cover many of the projects that might be attempted by a large and technological civilization within the bounds of known physics (so no hyperspace or energy shields). We mostly cover the "guns and butter", namely methods of warfare and expansion. Topics include: Methods of relativistic space flight, Dyson spheres, Giant Lasers, Uses of Black Holes, Stellar Mining, Ramscoops and more...

Subject matter will mostly consist of things covered in our Interstellar Warfare and Interstellar Empires classes, but we will hopefully have time to get into more details of the physics involved and answer more questions.

Familiarity with basic algebra and basic concepts in physics will be useful.

Introduction to Interplanetary Warfare
Teachers: DW Rowlands

A discussion of strategies and technology useful for space warfare within the solar system, with a focus on technology that exists or could reasonably exist within the next century.

Knowledge of algebra and some mechanics/basic high school physics would help.

Explosive Materials
Teachers: W D

Blowing things up is exciting! In this class, we'll talk about explosive materials on the molecular level, including molecular structure, synthesis, and relevant reactions (Note: I won't be teaching *how* to make explosives.)

High school chemistry preferable

Quantum Tunneling, Black Holes, and The Weird Universe

It turns out that behind the scenes nature works in bizarre and wonderful ways. We’ll explain some of these ideas, ranging from the very small – where particles routinely walk through walls and almost anything can happen – to the very large – where the fabric of space and time itself is curved, a glance at the sky can show you the birth of the universe, and mysteriously named Black Holes are inescapable for anything, even light itself. We’ll discuss these cryptic sentences and explain how weird our universe really is.

No prior knowledge needed. Only a desire to learn something new about our universe.

QED: How light (and everything else) behaves.
Teachers: Arvind Thiagarajan

Have you ever wondered why F=ma is true? It sounds like a definition at first, but it's really not: F is defined in terms of the potential energy field U, while m and a are attributes of the particle under consideration itself.

Turns out there's a deeper reason for why F=ma, and more generally, equations describing motion, are true. In this class, we'll consider the relatively simple of case of why light moves the way it does. We'll explore the foundations of physics as scientists currently understand them. If you're the kind of person who looks for deeper and deeper levels of simplicity and beauty in physics, this class is for you.

--Complex Numbers --Interest in physics --Basic results of calculus

I <3 My Heart

Have you ever thought about how your heart works? How does it pump blood throughout your body? How does it fill your blood with oxygen? Where does your blood go after it leaves the heart? What can go wrong with this system? And how can you keep your heart healthy?

In this class, we will discuss the basics of how the heart and the circulatory system work. Come see videos of ECG’s, angiograms, and heart ultrasounds! You will also be treated to an exclusive performance of the Circulation Song… prepare to be amazed!

Entropy and Temperature
Teachers: David Farhi

Why does your room always get messier and messier, never cleaner? Why don’t all the air molecules fall to the ground? In this class we’ll talk about entropy and randomness in nature and how they connect to energy, heat, temperature, and engines. This class will probably be fairly rigorous and math-intensive.

High School Algebra and Probability. Calculus will help.

Climate Change and…the Underworld!

When most people think climate change, they look up at the sky. But important processes controlling the Earth system happen underground. Come learn about how fluids flow through rocks and soil, and how that action is changing our lives. How can we understand what is happening underground without digging up the entire planet? After seeing a laboratory demonstration, you will play with a computer model to reproduce what you observe, if you can!

None, but there will be some math to explain what's going on in the experiment and computer model.

Unusual Cells
Teachers: Alioth Drinkwater

In basic biology classes, you study what are essentially cartoon cells, with a nucleus and whatnot. But the world is full of many different types of cells with unusual adaptations to unusual circumstances. In this class we’ll cover:

* what makes bacteria awesome in their own right, not just eukaryotes-without-a-nucleus
* some of the unusual cell types found in the human body, such as the meter-long neuron that runs down your leg
* what it takes to survive extremes of temperature, salinity, and pH

High school biology or equivalent understanding of cells and biological molecules. High school chemistry also desirable but not strictly necessary. You should be familiar with the "Basics of Cells and Proteins" section of <>.


[ Return to Category List ]

Learn to play Go!
Teachers: Brian Lee

Learn how to play the ancient game of Go!

"While the Baroque rules of Chess could only have been created by humans, the rules of Go are so elegant, organic, and rigorously logical that if intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, they almost certainly play Go." - Edward Lasker


The Gentlemen's Game: Bridge and Bridge Conventions

Some games transcend amusement. Some games surpass idle enjoyment to become showcases of human intellect and strategic achievement. Join us for a whirlwind introduction to bridge, referred to by many as the chess of card games. In one hour, you’ll learn the basic rules of bridge, as well as the strategies and bidding conventions that make it the high-class game of MIT-worthy intellects everywhere.

--Basic knowledge of the four suits of cards --knowledge of the four tarot suits, while non-ideal, is acceptable. --Possession of fine motor skills and manual dexterity required to handle playing cards. --Understanding of the relative values of natural numbers, as well as the ability to generalize this understanding to bidding situations

Modern Starcraft: Tactics, Techniques, and Strategy
Teachers: Jeff Chen

Welcome to Modern Starcraft, a crash course on modern day Zerg, Terran and Protoss competitive play. Learn crucial builds like 9 hatch speedling, 10/12 gate, 14cc, etc. We will also cover basic micro including muta stacking and goon dancing to more complex maneuvers like cloning.

Finish with an in-class tournament, with prizes!

Professor Mao is a C ranked Zerg on ICCUP.
Professor Chen is a D ranked noob.

laptop with brood war recommended. warcraft II BNE will do in a jiffy, but you will have to play by yourself in a corner, and everyone will point and laugh at you. loser.

The Future Full!

What is the fate of human civilization? This is not a class about prediction, but about plausible speculation.
Will we destroy ourselves with thermonuclear war, catastrophic climate change, or unfriendly artificial
intelligence? Will we continue to improve with biotechnology, space colonies, or brain uploading? What forces
are at work, and how do they interact? We'll give a lecture about some of our ideas, and then lead a lively
discussion in a follow up class.

A Bit Of Everything!

Choose up to four whirlwind discussions and question-and-answer sessions about:

Facts and myths about our universe: A chat about modern physics, what we know and what we don't know. We'll answer questions about stories you've heard regarding curved space, quantum teleportation, dark energy, strings, and whatever else you want to know.

International Development: 1 billion people in the world do not have access to water, 29,000 children under the age of 5 die every day, and half the world lives on less than $2.50 a day. How do we even start to solve these problems?

Protein cascades: how hormones and other external signaling factors can cause drastic changes in a cell's behavior through a series of astonishingly specific protein-protein interactions.

Paradoxes: The next sentence is false. The previous sentence is true. This topic will amuse only those students who are not
amused by it.

Geoengineering: Geoengineering is what it sounds like - world engineering. Some scientists are proposing massive changes to our planet to combat global warming, like putting giant mirrors in space to reflect sunlight, or building giant, carbon filtering trees.

Group Theory: What if you could "add" things that weren't numbers? We'll explore the theory of mathematical objects that allow for combining two elements with rules that mimic addition, and explore what kinds of objects we can get.

Telescopes: From Galileo to the summit of Mauna Kea, learn how these pieces of glass have let us glimpse into the heavens; how astronomy, the oldest science, is born anew.

The Future: Discussion Full!

See "The Future" (class 3231)

You need to have attended "The Future" (class 3231)

Why we are all machines - introduction to Marvin MInsky's theory of how our minds work Full!
Teachers: Jing Jian

Introduction to a theory that tries to explain how minds are made from collections of simpler processes.

Chinese Culture
Teachers: Danyi Wu

Want to learn more about Chinese culture? From the art of calligraphy to drinking bubble tea to playing dice games, come for an afternoon of fun!

ZDI.001 Introduction to Zombie Defense
Teachers: Andrew Farrell

The zombie apocalypse may be just around the corner, do you want to be fresh meat, or a prepared member of the Zombie Defense Initiative, ready for anything? Join us as we talk about the possible causes of a zombie apocalypse, proper preparation, and handy tactics for dealing with those shambling (or running) hordes of flesh-eaters!

Concealing a Lack of In-Depth Understanding Through The Use of Verbose, Obfuscating, Vapid and/or Redundant Language

Learn how to stretch out writing assignments…eloquently!

Knowledge of the English language is preferable.

From Ideas to Reality -- How to Create and Implement Full!
Teachers: THINK TechFair

Did you ever have random ideas come across your mind? Was it because you thought your idea was too random that you did not make an effort to turn it into reality? THINK will lead you through a systematic way of carrying an idea into reality. Additionally, THINK founder from MIT TechFair will share her story of founding THINK from just a simple idea. This is a conceptual overview accompanied with testimonies from THINK organizers.
Note: Remember to also check out another class called "The THINK Design Lab," a hands-on workshop that teaches you how to be creative.
For any questions or concerns, please contact


How to Eat Food Right Full!

There will be cake among other things, no joke.

Learn how to eat like a starving engineer connoisseur college student.

modest appetite and sense of humor and understanding that food is serious business

Teachers: Krista Speroni

Engage in language-facilitated communication and social bonding by talking to me and a few other people as well . Discuss, argue, philosophize, hypothesize, ask, demand, critique, etc.

Come with ideas and thoughts in your head. (And be ready to talk about them, of course)

The Cheese Tasting
Teachers: Elizabeth Levin

Camembert, Gruyère, Stilton, Cheddar.

Small cubes of cheese grace the trays of distinguished parties the world over. Knowing your curds is a challenging, but delicious, task that any young gentleman or lady should try.

tl;dr Cheese, Gromit! Come try some really nice cheeses and learn how to distinguish a Gouda from an Edam.

Good taste!

Rugby 101 Full!
Teachers: Adedoyin Ogunniyi

Calling all rookies!
Calling all rookies!

If you've ever played rugby; wanted to play rugby; or just like getting physical, come out and join the MIT Women's Rugby Club.

We'll turn you from rookies to ruggers in 3 hours or less. Oh yeah, in case you didn't know, we are the 2009 Division 3 NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!!!

Good sportsmanship Willingness to learn Lust for BLOOD (just kidding)

Getting into Selective/Elite Colleges

Want to get into MIT, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, or other top colleges? Come and learn what these schools look for and how to stand out. We will cover essays, activities, test scores, and so on.

Come with questions!

How not to fail at Cosplay
Teachers: Letitia Li

Winning costume contests requires time and charisma. All I try for is not getting my picture posted on "10 worst Cosplays of all time". Running from every camera is one possible way, but what parts of a costume can we skimp on and still look impressive? Discuss how to be recognizable, as well as how to choose fabric and wigs.

Some knowledge of video game and anime characters

I Can Do Sushi Me Full!
Teachers: Ben Sena

Can you do sushi you? I can do sushi me! We will do sushi us, caught by bears and seasoned with unicorn tears. Come ready to eat raw raw fish.

Be mature and be prepared to follow directions. I run a tight ship-kitchen, but the rewards will be worth it.

Texas Hold'em
Teachers: Jose Avedillo

Shuffle up and deal! This class is aimed to introduce you to the game of Texas Hold'em. We will cover from the basics to strategy to poker faces, and even some history. We will also have a mini-tournament, where you can put your skills to practice!

Desire to experience a thrill.

Guesstimation: How To Think Like a Scientist
Teachers: Michael Shaw

Have you ever seen someone guess the attendance at a concert, the number of cells in the human body, or the amount of ice cream consumed daily in Boston? Do you worry that you're not "mathy" enough to do the same? This ability is not inherent talent, or dumb luck: it's a skill that we'll learn!

Science asks us to look analytically at the world around us--to study complexity in all its wondrous forms. We break down these mysterious problems into simple pieces that we can wrap our heads around; then, put together the jigsaw, and voila: You have done something extra-ordinary.

Come ready to think outside the box and to exercise your mind in new ways. You don't have to be a rocket scientist or a nationally-ranked mathematician to have fun and flex some new mental muscles!

ITR Games Full!
Teachers: Maija Mednieks

"Now, you may think you're a student attending Spark! but you're really a citizen of Happyville 2.0, where everyone is happy all the time. But some people have become unhappy..."

Described as a combination of mafia and tag, ITR involves a lot of running around, duct tape, and the ever important question "Are you happy?" This course is not so much a class, but a diversion in which to play interesting games brought to you from interesting people.

Come ready to run around and have silly fun.

Sailor Moon

Everything about Sailor Moon! If you took this class during Splash, please consider coming again, we will be looking at different media.

Social and Interpersonal Skills - People Hacking
Teachers: Jeremy Smith

I taught this class for the first time last year. It received such great reviews and feedback that I've decided to evolve and improve it. The course material has the capacity to be life-changing; for some, it is. Come with an open mind and maturity.

Believe it or not, being able to deal with people is one of the most important attributes of many successful people. I am going to teach you a particular model for how to think about yourselves and others, how to deal with all kinds of people in all situations, and some tips on how to improve yourself in social situations and in general. While social skills is the particular target material for this class, much of what will be discussed is broadly applicable for general success in life - stuff that lead to my getting into and through MIT and on to the success that I now enjoy.

You must be MATURE and NON-DISRUPTIVE (seriously, disruptive folks won't be tolerated). I’m a guy, so what I say may not necessarily apply to females - girls are welcome, but just be aware that I am not one of you and some of what I have to say may not apply.

The Science of Baking Full!
Teachers: Elizabeth Levin

Why does your cake rise? What in brownies makes them so fudgy and delicious? What is really in a Twinkie?

Well even we don't know that last one, but we have a few choice bits about the others. Come do some... uh... 'experiments' with us and then snack on your thesis!

Stomach, mouth, taste buds

Beginner Strength Training
Teachers: Michael Katz

In this course you will learn the basics of strength training: the terms, the anatomy, the nutrition, and of course, how to properly and safely perform the lifts. This is not a bodybuilding class, you won't get 'toned' and you won't be able to pose on stages. What you will get is raw strength that is useful in stressful situations, for improving athletics, for burning fat, and for making day-to-day movement easier. Strength training, combined with good nutrition that will be taught to you in this course, increases physical prowess, mental well-being, and builds solid self confidence.
Based on the principles of Mark Rippetoe's "Starting Strength".

Do Political Campaigns Matter?
Teachers: Anthony Fowler

Political pundits in the media read closely into every step of a Presidential campaign. Every speech, ad, and gaffe is closely scrutinized, but does any of this really matter?

We will take a scientific look at this question. Through the use of lab experiments, field experiments, and natural experiments, we will discuss what, if anything, can influence the results of an election.

The THINK Design Lab -- Your Creativity Sparked!
Teachers: THINK TechFair

This is a hands-on workshop guiding students through the innovative thinking process. Come if you feel like being creative, or want to learn how to develop creative projects. This will be a mind-broadening experience to empower your creativity for meaningful purposes.

Note: Remember to also check out another class called "From Ideas to Reality -- How to Create and Implement." In that class, THINK organizers will provide a conceptual overview of how to come up with creative ideas, how to implement the idea, and what it takes to transform your ideas into reality.

For any questions or concerns, please contact

no particular experiences required, suitable for all grades.

How Not To Be Awkward

In this class, we’ll play out awkward scenarios and come up with solutions to get out of them. Things that will be discussed: what to do with your hands while talking, how to take a compliment, conversation topics to avoid…and so on.

Real Conspiracies
Teachers: Volunteer Teacher

If you haven't learned the truth about government coups to overthrow the government in Iran, secret CIA projects to control you mind, and how the British were conducting germ warfare in the 1700s, this may be your only chance to get this information before it is classified.

We're not going to mess around here. Everything you'll hear about is real and actually happened. We deal with cold, hard facts.

Remember the passcode. And make sure no one follows you. We don't want this information getting into the wrong hands.

Not being a government agent, ability to remember the passcode "Sunny Side Up"

Read My Lips: An Investigation of Human Body Language Full!
Teachers: Alice Yen

Body language is complex and intriguing to uncover. How do you tell if that special guy or girl has a crush on you? How can you tell if your best friend is lying? How do you decipher what that stranger across the room is thinking? Learn why and how it is not just what you say, but how you say it.

History of Video Games
Teachers: Nicole Berdy

An overview of the history of video games and video game systems, beginning with pre-Pong classics through the current generation gaming systems. Because video games are awesome.

Strategy, Lying and Manipulation: How to become a phenomonal killer in the game of MAFIA
Teachers: Jing Jian

How to become a great mafia.

Game Theory and Elections
Teachers: Anthony Fowler

This course will provide an introduction to game theory and how it applies to the real world. In particular, we will use game theory to think about political elections.

Why do citizens vote when the chance of influencing the election result is so low? Why don't candidates choose more centrist platforms in order to sway moderate voters?

No prior familiarity with game theory is necessary.

Golden Boy

We will be watching all of Golden Boy OVA!

Intro to Magic: The Gathering draft

Interested in getting into Magic: The Gathering, but don't feel like shelling out hundreds of dollars for cards? Learn how to draft! Players open sealed boosters and construct decks by passing the cards around and selecting picks in turn.

Note that this class is intended for players new to drafting; experienced players will merely be bored. Also, to ensure that students do not sign up just to get cards, they will not get to keep the cards they use.

Iron Chef ESP Full!

Do YOU have what it takes to be an Iron Chef? Compete against each other in this intense culinary battle to produce savory delights!

And of course...there is always the secret ingredient!

You must have cooking experience, both for the sake of your poor knife-susceptible fingers and the judges' sense of taste. Also, we ask that students be minimum 15 years old.

Explore MIT Full!
Teachers: Beth Schaffer

This is not your average campus tour! We’ll explore the winding basements, the towering Green Building and some of the wackier elements of the architecture around MIT. I’ll be taking you on a tour of a lot of the stranger places around campus as well as some of the prettiest sights. Be prepared to walk!

ДУРАК, a Russian card game Full!

CARDS CARDS CARDS CARDS!! VICTORY!!!! oh wait, there is not victory.... Come play the game where you can't win - you can just not lose. It's kind of like real life in that way. Come be the durak!!

Here's how it's going to go:
1. We'll teach you the rules
2. We'll play

Know what a card is, and how to hold one.

The Most Challenging Puzzles
Teachers: Daniel Zaharopol

Join us as we solve some of the deepest and most challenging puzzles around. These puzzles, seen in competitions such as the MIT Mystery Hunt, require careful analysis and deep logic, and they’re often given without any instructions! We’ll go through a sample of these puzzles and try to work through them together. Stretch your brain and grow your skills for finding deep patterns, examining open-ended questions, and pulling out solutions without nearly enough information.

Teachers: Alex Gurany

Patrol is a game sponsored by the MIT Assassins' guild. Participants are divided into a number of teams. Each player is armed with a dart gun and a small number of rubber darts. Each player also wears a colored headband denoting what team he/she is on and whether or not he/she is currently alive. The object of the game is to shoot members of the other teams without getting shot. If shot, the player can ressurect by visiting the ressurection floor. The main goal, however, is to have fun.