Spark 2021
Course Catalog


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Visual and Performing Arts Computers and Programming
Engineering Humanities
Languages and Literatures Mathematics
Science Walk-in Activity
Miscellaneous Social Studies


Visual and Performing Arts

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A14518: Basic Music Composition Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Grace Cai, Matthew Cox

Ever wanted to learn how to write your own piece of music? Take this class and we'll teach you how to write your very own basic composition!


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
Proficient at reading sheet music Know what scales, key signatures, and intervals are

A14506: Intro to Music Theory Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Nancy Xu, Hilary Zen

Dive deeper into the world of music by breaking it down to the basics! We will look at the elements and composition of music, starting from the beginning. No experience required!


Class Style
Standalone


Computers and Programming

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C14436: Introduction to MIT App Inventor Closed!
Difficulty: *

Have you ever wanted to make your own phone app? Learn how using MIT App Inventor, a block based app design platform. We will go through the basics of App Inventor and make several example apps that you can add your own twist to. By the end of the course, you will be able to make your own mobile apps and share them with your friends.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
Access to an Android device.

C14493: Introduction to Proof Logic Closed!
Difficulty: *

Have you ever wondered what it takes to prove something? In this class, we will talk about proof thinking, different kinds of proofs, and work with small examples in a real-world theorem prover! Even though proofs are a mathematical tool, this class will introduce proofs in a computer science setting, in particular proving properties of a piece of code. NO experience required with proofs, code, math, or anything else :)


Class Style
Standalone

C14437: Visual Accessibility with MIT App Inventor Full!
Difficulty: **

One of the most important considerations to design is accessibility. When you finish your new project, who can use it, and who is excluded? Join us for a course on Visual Accessibility with MIT App Inventor, a block based programming platform that allows you to make your own mobile apps. You will try out brand new additions to the App Inventor interface, learn about designing for visual accessibility, and finish with a brand new inclusive app.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
An Android device. (Previous course "Introduction to MIT App Inventor" recommended for those new to App Inventor)

C14426: Spreadsheets are Cool Closed!
Difficulty: **

Wanna use a spreadsheet to calculate what your overall grade will be based on how you do on the remaining assignments for the year?
Wanna predict the results of elections before news organizations can tell you who's going to win?
This class will give you the foundation you need to dive in and learn the wonderful world of spreadsheets.


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
Have a couple hours of spreadsheet experience. If not, you can totally do that between now and the first class.

C14470: How To Quickly Prototype an AI Chip Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Thierry Tambe

The increasing computational demands of artificial intelligence (AI) workloads has spurred the rise of specialized AI chips accelerating important applications such as object detection, speech and language recognition, and recommendation systems. In this short class, we will cover the various engineering decisions to design an energy-efficient AI chip, and the commonly used logistical processes to design and prototype them quickly for deployment.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
Elementary algebra and ability to think abstractly.

C14472: Introduction to Computer Programming Closed!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Lester Kim

This course will introduce computer programming in Python. We begin with setting up our software development environment and conclude with basic data structures and algorithms. As time permits, we might explore binary data representation, sorting, and object-oriented design.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
Basic arithmetic

C14429: Demystify + Make Your Own Instagram/Snapchat Filters Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Jimin Lee, Joy Yu

You may have used cat/dog filters on Instagram or Snapchat, but do you know how they work? Have you ever thought about making your own? Join this class and get your creative juices flowing~~ We will have a ton of fun using MIT App Inventor to demystify facial filters. More importantly, get hands on experience and make your own Android app that is a camera with a fun filter!


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
1. you must have an android device, preferably a chromebook or a phone :) We will make an android app in this class. 2. you must fill out the consent form and have your parents fill it out as well. We hope you come with enthusiasm and an interest in coding and AI!

C14511: Random Forests: Introduction to Machine Learning Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Ivan Duran

You've probably heard that machines will eventually take over the world and make humans their machines...

Okay, that's a bit scary, but what about machine learning? It is a branch of artificial intelligence that helps us identify patterns in data to make predictions. If you have used search engines or entertainment apps, then it is very likely that you unknowingly have used machine learning.

Come join us if you have want to learn how to use random forests, a specific type of machine learning, in your own projects--as long as you don't want to take over the world...


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
Programming in Python is desired but not required. Assignments will be done on Google Colab so there is no need to download an IDE.

C14467: Generative Art Closed!
Difficulty: **

Come learn to make art using computers! We'll cover a few influential and cool generative artists for inspiration and then dive into ways you can start making things on your own.


Class Style
Standalone

C14443: Create Your Own Conversational AI Agents Full!
Difficulty: **

Have you ever asked your friendly Siri or Alexa what the weather would be today? Or maybe to set a timer for 10 minutes? Come learn about how these conversational AI agents work, and build your own! We'll go over how to use Convo, a conversational programming interface, to do everything from creating a virtual friend to telling an adventure story to making a recipe book. The possibilities are endless!


Class Style
Sequence

C14486: Siri, self-driving cars, and COVID: what can (and can’t) AI do for you? Closed!
Difficulty: **

Have you ever wondered what’s powering many of the apps on smartphones? Or how a computer can beat you in a video game and predict skin cancer? Or maybe you’re curious how far we are from robots like Wall-E (or even the Terminator!). In this fun course, we’ll teach you about what’s driving this technology - artificial intelligence (AI)! In this whirlwind tour of AI, you’ll learn not only about the state-of-the-art machine intelligence, but also why babies are still smarter than even the best computers. How can this be? Find out with us in this awesome course - no prior background in AI is needed - we hope to see you there!


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
None! Just enthusiasm to learn about AI!


Engineering

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E14439: Satellite Engineering Full!

Come learn how to build a satellite! Join the MIT Graduate Women in Aerospace Engineering group as we discuss satellite subsystems and engineering challenges.


Class Style
Standalone

E14460: What in the world is plasma? Full!
Difficulty: **

Lightning, a plasma ball, the northern lights, the Sun. What do these things all have in common?

They are all P L A S M A!!!!!

But what is Plasma? How does it work?

In this interactive class we'll be answering these questions and more!


Class Style
Standalone

E14461: Metals & Metallurgists & Manufacturing Full!
Difficulty: **

We'll take a look at metal objects and how they are made, ranging from common items in your home to industrial manufacturing operations for metals. We’ll talk about the properties of metals versus more brittle material such as ceramics, watch how some industrial processes work, and discuss what engineers who work in manufacturing do. If watching glowing, molten red hot metal sounds interesting to you, join us! We’ll also talk about 3D printing of metals, versus more historical ways of making metals by casting and rolling.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
None

E14504: Introduction to CAD with Onshape Full!
Difficulty: **

Do you want to learn how to become an engineer? Do you want to invent new machines and products? Well do we have the class for you! Learn how to model and design products using the Computer Aided Design website Onshape, a free online tool that anybody can learn! By the end, you will know how to design part models from the ground up, read technical drawings, and create your very own model!


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
Strongly suggested: Have a mouse handy (not a trackpad)

E14471: How To Make Mediocre Furniture Closed!
Difficulty: *

Making beautiful designer furniture is very hard. You would need years of practice, a workshop space, and some very expensive tools. Making mediocre furniture is much easier! In this three-class sequence, I'll teach you how to design and make furniture that's functional, cheap, and relatively pretty. I learned everything I know from hours of googling and screwing up; now I'll teach you and save you the time. You CAN try this at home!


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
"Anti"-prerequisites: you shouldn't take this class if you already know how to use a circular saw, a power drill, and similar tools. We'll be starting from the very beginning.

E14498: Intro to Electronics Closed!
Difficulty: **

Ever heard the terms voltage and current and wondered what they meant? Have you ever wanted to learn how to build your own simple circuits? If so, this is the class for you!

We'll teach you the basics of circuitry. Then, with lab kits that we'll send out to you, you'll be able to build your very own circuits using principles from the class!


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
Algebra

E14455: Yeeting Rockets Closed!
Difficulty: **

Ever wanted to learn how people yeet giant hunks of metal into space through the power of explosions, aerodynamics, and physics? Have you ever wanted to yeet something into space yourself? Then this is the class for you. We will be talking about how rockets function and work, and we will talk about how you yourself can get started on your own rocket science journey (or continue one if you have already started)!


Class Style
Standalone


Humanities

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H14433: Tell Your Story: Writing Your Memoir Full!
Difficulty: *

Your life stories are worth telling! With fun writing exercises and creative writing tips, this class will help you figure out how to make a narrative out of your memories. By the end, you'll hear the COVID stories of middle schoolers from all over the country.


Class Style
Standalone

H14473: Do you have free will? Full!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Keith Murray

Imagine this: you are standing in the snack isle of your local grocery store and you are deciding between buying chips or pretzels? You think, "I like chips more, so I'll buy the chips." But why? Did you decide you like chips more, or did your body tell you that you like chips more than pretzels? Is any of the two scenarios considered "free will?" What even is "free will?" This class seeks to ask (but not necessarily answer!) two questions: what is free will and do you have free will? This class will utilize the socratic method to gain an understanding of these concepts and question your belief about the nature of choice.


Class Style
Standalone

H14459: Defining Global Health in the 2020s Closed!
Difficulty: **

Curious about vaccine development? COVID's impact on the world? Join MIT Global Health Alliance for a class focused on an introduction to global health and the pandemic's impact on it! Get ready to have discussions about why it is important to remedy healthcare disparities. Why does it matter now? Besides COVID-19, what are other questions about global health and pressing challenges we need to address?


Class Style
Sequence

H14483: Intro to Science Writing Closed!
Difficulty: **

How can you tell good journalism from bad? Why is science journalism even important? What role does ethics play in science reporting? This course will cover the hows and whats of science writing, including how is communicated with the public and what makes it effective.


Class Style
Sequence

H14421: President Madison with Chief Justice Richard Guy on the Founding of the United States Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Bil Lewis

With the assistance of students playing appropriate dramatic parts as Patrick Henry, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Dolly Madison, Paul Jennings, etc., he will lead investigations into events from the House of Burgesses, the Constitutional Convention, the “Dinner Party,” etc., that marked the coming of age of the United States.

More than a mere recitation of dates and facts, this will be an exploration the underlying reasons that prompted them to act as they did. Many of the issues they confronted then continue to be relevant today.

• Should we be one Country?
• What debts should be paid?
• Who gets the power of Taxation?
• Should a Private Bank issue money?
• Should we be agrarian? Or a center of manufacturing?
• How do we limit the influence of Great Corporations on our public life?
• How can we protect the Common Man from the rapaciousness of the Rich and Powerful?
• How do we eliminate Slavery?
• How do we make real the “Spirit of ’76?” So we can truly say that “All Men are Created Equal.”

President Madison will be assisted by Retired Chief Justice of Washington State, Richard Guy.


Class Style
Standalone

H14463: How Railroads Led to Boba: The Asian American Story Full!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Jason Li

From the the early Chinese Exclusion Act and Bhagat Singh Thind to modern boba culture and film representation, the history of Asian Americans is a rich, often untold story of hardship, perseverance, and unique cultural identity. This class will be a crash course on some of the most significant historical events as well as current issues. Anyone is welcome, so come learn what they don't teach you in school!!


Class Style
Standalone


Languages and Literatures

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L14507: Startales: Mythology in the Night Sky Closed!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Utheri Wagura

The night sky is full of stories that are as true to human experience today as they were two thousand years ago. Come learn about the myths and stories behind major constellations - and maybe even a bit of astronomy!


Class Style
Standalone


Mathematics

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M14462: Tessellations of 2D planes & 3D space Full!
Difficulty: **

Tessellations of 2D and 3D sounds like fun with math and geometry, and it is! But tessellations also relate to beautiful art & the chemistry of crystal structures.
In this class we talk about how shapes like squares and triangles can fit together perfectly to cover a plane ( such as squares and hexagons), and talk about 3 dimensional shapes that tessellate 3D space ( such as cubes).
Then we will look at repeating shapes in art, including artists like M.C. Escher and talk about repeating shapes in 3D crystals such as table salt, sugar, and industrial materials such as metals and crystals.


Class Style
Standalone

M14432: Infinities Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Laura Cui, Jiahai Feng

Ever wondered how to count to infinity? Or how there can be infinitely many whole numbers, but even more real numbers? Come take a closer look at number systems, infinities, and the foundations of mathematics hiding in the basement!


Class Style
Standalone

M14469: Cellular Automata Closed!
Difficulty: ***

A cellular automaton is a grid of cells that changes according to simple rules, but can have complicated behavior. The most famous one is Conway's Game of Life. We'll discuss 1- and 2- dimensional automata, look at cool patterns they can produce, and see just how powerful they can be.


Class Style
Standalone

M14487: Fractals! Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Alex Cole, Stephen Face

Come meet fractals, the bizarre, infinitely complex, structures that live between dimensions!

To understand these beautiful shapes, we'll dig into what "dimension" really means, how dimension is calculated, and where fractals appear in the real world.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
Basic algebra, knowledge of exponentials, and excitement to jump into the unknown

M14416: Information and the Redundancy of English Closed!
Difficulty: ***

What is information? How can we measure it? In this class, we'll introduce a way of quantitatively measuring information and use the tools we develop to discuss how redundant the English language is.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
You should know what a logarithm is.

M14492: Fibonacci Numbers! Featuring Recursion Closed!
Difficulty: ***

The Fibonacci sequence is one of the most well-known sequences in mathematics. The way you can generate the sequence is simple, but there is a lot of theory behind the sequence and its terms.

In this class, we'll explore some of the properties of the Fibonacci sequence, along with a few spinoff sequences and if time allows, some linearly recursive sequences.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
Some amount of knowledge in algebra (i.e. being able to work with polynomials and irrational numbers) is strongly recommended

M14431: Mod Mathematics and Mod Art Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Laura Cui, Phoebe Lin

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if clocks had anything except 12 numbers? Come learn about new ways of adding and multiplying numbers in modular arithmetic, and create your own work of mathematical art! No art experience required :)


Class Style
Sequence

M14488: Introduction to Number Theory Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Alex Cole, Stephen Face

Do you like numbers? What about theories? If so then this class is for you!

Number theory is the branch of mathematics that is devoted to the study of integers. It turns out you can do a lot without decimals or fractions! We'll dig into the basics of number theory including discussing primes, modular arithmetic, and where all of this is used in the real world.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
Some maths. Addition and multiplication are necessary. Division and exponentiation are useful but not required.


Science

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S14456: The Science of COVID-19 Closed!
Difficulty: *

Interested in how viruses work? Why COVID-19 is THE pandemic that is defining our world today? And what the most current research on the disease? Join us to answer all of these questions and more! No prior knowledge or experience is needed- as long as you are interested in learning more about COVID-19 you can sign up!


Class Style
Standalone

S14516: Science in the Kitchen: Edible Experiments Closed!
Difficulty: *

If you're staying at home with a kitchen right now, try making it your laboratory! We will share a couple kitchen-friendly science experiments where you'll see the ingredients, a few key steps, and pre-prepared end results so you can learn how to adapt the recipes in your own kitchen. For example, make your own pH tests with red cabbage juice and make green eggs (without ham, apologies to Sam I Am). Layer liquids of different densities and learn about emulsification. Feed yeast and watch it grow. Apply a scientific process to baking and make adjustments, depending on your preferences. We'll get to enjoy our experiments in multiple ways, because they're edible!

For 2020-2021, this class focuses on scientific concepts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please join us for the Pandemic Edition of Science in the Kitchen!


Class Style
Standalone

S14420: Debates in Bioethics Full!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Talya Kramer

Interested in questions like "how do we decide who gets the covid vaccine first?" or "should people be able to pick the eye color of their children"? Come learn about these issues and more in Debates in Bioethics!
In this class, we will learn about the field of Bioethics, which studies moral questions about science and medicine. We'll first learn about how to think through these kinds of questions, and then we'll discuss a few specific scenarios.
No prior knowledge is needed!


Class Style
Standalone

S14452: Getting to the Bottom of Things Closed!
Difficulty: ***

Look around you -- soil, wood, concrete, paint, glass, phones, people, light, clouds, stars -- an incredible variety of things. According to modern physics, however, deep down everything is made of the same basic building blocks. In this class, you will learn about these building blocks and explore how they are combined to make the world around us.


Class Style
Standalone

S14514: Fusion Energy, Climate Change, and Environmental Racism Closed!
Difficulty: *

Climate change disproportionately affects low-income, people of color because systemically racist policies place toxic waste near them. Fusion can provide clean energy for the world, significantly slowing climate change. As we develop fusion technology, it is critical that we distribute energy safely and fairly, especially to low-income communities of people of color.


Class Style
Standalone

S14509: Let's Go Viral! (literally) Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Hope Do, Steven Swee

While most of us are not exactly fond of viruses, what if to beat a virus, we introduce another virus? What if we are able to turn our invisible enemy's best weapon against them? Seems like a crazy idea, but it's an idea that's literally going viral.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
Basic knowledge of cell biology is recommended (but don't worry, we'll give you a crash course)!

S14524: Cell Ag Crash Course: Meat Without the Animal and Ice Cream Without Cows Closed!
Difficulty: **

Lab grown meat? Vegan ice cream made from milk proteins produced by microbes instead of cows? How can we produce animal products without hurting animals?

A single day crash-course for those interested in learning about cellular agriculture: the manufacture of animal products from cell cultures.


Class Style
Standalone

S14468: How to Build a Virus Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Pranav Murugan

Viruses are incredible little machines that have survived for billions of years even though most people wouldn't even consider them alive! They go toe-to-toe with cells thousands of times larger than them and are the peak of biological efficiency. In this class we'll take a look at how a virus works and all the different ways they're built from the atom-up.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
Basic knowledge of DNA/RNA/proteins is ideal but not necessary.

S14448: Antiferromagnetism!! Closed!
Difficulty: **

Everyone knows what magnets are, but not everyone knows what antiferromagnets are. Come learn about antiferromagnets - why they exist, what makes them different from (ferro)magnets, and how the computers of the future might use them!


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
None

S14450: How Do We Make Energy? Closed!
Difficulty: **

We hear all the time about pollution from coal plants, the dangers of nuclear power, and the need to make more renewable energy. In this class, we’ll discuss how these different power sources make energy and how it gets from far away power plants to your home to turn on your lights. If you want to learn more about how the world is powered, this class is for you!


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
None

S14417: Yoga, Mantra, Meditation, and Deep Breathing Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Manju Jain, Meena Jain

Yoga for neck, shoulder, back, knee, and eyes.
Om chanting, mantra, yogasan: camel pose, padmasan, gomuahasan, and laughter yoga.
Meditation for peace.
Deep breathing for stress.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
none

S14447: Light and Radiation: The Invisible World Closed!
Difficulty: **

Did you know that WiFi is actually light? And microwaves too?

What the heck is light? Where does it come from? How do we use it?

In this class, we will shed some light on these questions through fun conversations.


Class Style
Standalone

S14424: mRNA vaccine turning people into mutants? Science behind COVID and vaccine Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Michelle He, Lin Hou

Want to learn more about how mRNA vaccines are create and how they work? Wondering how this invisible virus has brought us to this current situation and what we can do to combat it? Come learn about the science behind coronavirus and the mRNA vaccine!
For the past year, people around the world have been living under the pandemic, with lives significantly altered. Now that vaccine is approved and being distributed, we are seeing hope to control the virus for the first time. Yet, ever since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been various myths, conspiracies, and even discriminations associated with the spread of the virus. Therefore, it is critical for us to understand the science behind the virus and the vaccine in order to stop the rumors and the virus from spreading.


Class Style
Standalone

S14419: What is DNA: Structure and Function Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Manju Jain, Meena Jain

What is DNA? What are PCR and short tandam repeat? How do we use DNA to identify people?
To make a DNA molecule you need:
nitrogenous bases—there are four of these: adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), guanine (G);
carbon sugar molecule; and
phosphate molecules.
DNA has two main functions:
1. identify a person from another person
2. make protein


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
none

S14465: Glow Big or Glow home Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Mirna Kheir Gouda

This is a really fun science activity where you will learn about the "Central Dogma". Don't be intimidated by the name, it is not that complicated! The central dogma is how genes turn into proteins. We will be doing a small experiments to make proteins that glow!


Class Style
Standalone

S14476: Introductory cardiology: how the heart beats and breaks Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Kathleen Higgins

This course will be a broad overview of how the heart works, from the tiny cells that make up the heart muscle up through the damage sustained during a heart attack. Other topics may include generation of a heart beat, structural abnormalities, arrhythmias, blood pressure, and electrocution. Students will practice listening to heart rhythms using online stethoscope simulators.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
Some familiarity with basic biology and physics. Students should recognize terms like "cell", "muscle", and "electrical."

S14466: Active Galaxies & Supermassive Black Holes Full!
Difficulty: **

Almost all galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their center, and some of these black holes are being fed by large amounts of gas. This feeding process grows the black hole and also releases huge amounts of energy and light, from X-rays to radio waves. We call galaxies whose black holes are being fed “active galaxies”. Come on a journey to the center of these active galaxies, as we learn about the cosmic beasts that power them!


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
None

S14451: Stellar graveyard: black holes, neutron stars and more! Full!
Difficulty: **

What happens to stars when they die? They don’t go quietly. They end their life in an extremely bright explosion called a supernova – and they leave some incredible objects behind! These dead stars make up the "stellar graveyard". In this graveyard, you can find white dwarfs, neutron stars and even black holes – the densest and most extreme things in the Universe! Come to this class to find out what each of these are, and what makes them so exciting.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
Some knowledge of basic physics would be great, but not necessary!

S14512: Introduction to Biostatistics and Epidemiology Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Ivan Duran

This course introduces students to elemental concepts of epidemiology and biostatistics. Come join us if you want to learn how to examine published studies and understand the design, methods, analyses, and conclusions drawn from them. Case studies will include recent primary literature/review articles such as COVID-19 vaccines.


Class Style
Sequence

S14475: How the immune system works Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Sam Allon, Thomas Cheng

How does the immune system protect us from infection? Which cell types are involved, and what are each of their jobs? What are the unsolved mysteries of the immune system?


Class Style
Sequence

S14423: Physics of the Extreme! Closed!
Difficulty: **

In this 3-week sequence, you’ll learn about what happens on the frontiers of the universe! What happens when things get really big, when things get really cold, or when we go way back into the past? You’ll learn about black holes, which live in the middle of galaxies, spew out hot plasma, and gulp up stars. You’ll learn about superconductivity, which happens when you freeze metal with liquid helium until it stops making sense. And you’ll learn about the history of our universe — what we think happened in the first few minutes (like, ever) giving rise to everything we can and can’t see in the night sky. If you’re curious about what goes in places you can barely imagine, this class will help you discover some really weird answers!


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
A basic awareness of some physics and chemistry concepts should be enough!

S14484: Seedy Dealings: The Rise of Plants Closed!
Difficulty: **

Why do pinecones grow in a spiral pattern? How did plants move from water to land? How can they use catapults to launch spores? In this class, you will learn how plants have been doing these and more for over 400 million years!


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
Introductory biology is recommended but not required.

S14479: Let's Talk about the Weather! Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Sarah Weidman

Have you ever wondered how hurricanes or tornadoes form? Or why thunder snow exists? What is a Nor'easter, and why do they occur?

Together, we'll explore the basic physics that create the weather we observe every day, as well as look into some ways to forecast weather yourself!


Class Style
Standalone

S14494: The Microbiome: How much of your body is you? Full!
Difficulty: **

Bacteria live everywhere--not only in dirt and on doorknobs, but in your body, too! Come join us to learn the basics of how and why bacteria live with us and to review some newer research on how they might affect everything from what you eat to how you smell!


Class Style
Standalone

S14503: The Science of Happiness Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Kenneth Cox

What can science tell us about happiness? In this course, we will explore the methods that researchers use to study happiness, the findings from prominent studies, and how this knowledge can be used in day-to-day life.


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
None :)

S14517: Science and Economics of Climate Change: Understanding Environmental Successes and Failures Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Emily Fang, Lily Zhang

Climate change is always in in the news, but what is the science behind how carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other human activities impact our climate? What are the economic drivers behind pollution and how successful has environmental policy been in addressing climate issues?

This class will give you a unique understanding of the climate change issue from a scientific and economic perspective. We’ll explore three different climate change phenomenon and discuss how successful different policy instruments have been/can be in addressing each of them.


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
Background in physics, chemistry, and algebra helpful but not required.

S14449: The Origin of Everything: Introduction to Cosmology Full!
Difficulty: **

How did the Universe begin? When did the first stars form? And how is it all going to end? Cosmology, the study of the origin and evolution of the Universe, seeks to answer all these questions and more. In this class, we will learn an overview of modern cosmological theories that explain the beginning of everything, the end of everything, and lots in between. If you’ve ever wondered about our place in the Universe, this is the class for you!


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
No background required

S14415: Women's Health Closed!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Anna Wilson

No matter your age or gender, I want you to know that you belong in our class. Women's Health encompasses a huge number of topics, and I truly believe that you will be able to learn something new, regardless of your background. The course covers anatomy, physiology, puberty, ovulation, periods, fertility, sexuality, contraceptives, STIs, abortion, menopause, cancer prevention, relationship violence, doctor/patient trust, and more. By the end of the course, you will have a nuanced understanding of women's health at all stages of life and feel empowered to take charge of your own healthcare. I also promise to make it fun!


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
Maturity

S14435: Microbiome 101: What’s in your poop? Closed!

Come learn about the microbiome and where you can find it! We will discuss current methods to study the microbiome, correlations with diseases and the environment, and how you (and your poop!) can help somebody through microbiome science. Who doesn't love talking about poop?!


Class Style
Standalone

S14427: Special Relativity Closed!
Difficulty: ***

Come explore space and time with a relativity-based online game, and see how the main ideas of special relativity can be derived from simple principles and some basic algebra! We'll also talk about relativity "paradoxes" and how to resolve them.


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
Algebra (at the Algebra 1 level). Algebra 2 and basic physics are helpful, but not required.

S14495: Nuclear Fusion: Infinite, Clean Energy? Closed!
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Amelia Cavallaro

Nuclear fusion has been touted as the energy of the future since before any of your parents were born, so why isn't it here yet? What is it? How does it work? Can we do it? Is it really clean? Could it get us to space? How about just power our homes?

We'll answer some of these questions for you, through the example of MIT's awesome fusion program.


Class Style
Sequence


Walk-in Activity

[ Return to Category List ]

W14480: Sporcle! Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Sarah Weidman

Come hang out and do some online quizzes via sporcle.com. Some favorites include:

- Name every Harry Potter character, in order of frequency of appearance
- Name every country and capital
- Fill in the lyrics to popular Disney songs

and many more! Sporcle quizzes will be chosen by request.


Class Style
Standalone

W14519: Science Bowl Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Paolo Adajar

Come play high school Science Bowl and try to win bragging rights and learn some awesome things about science! Know lots of science trivia, love hitting buzzers, or just want to try to answer questions ridiculously fast? This is the walk-in for you! You do not need to have familiarity/experience with this game to participate!


Class Style
Standalone

W14525: Let's Play! Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Paolo Adajar

A walk-in for chilling and talking. Share stories about cool classes you're taking at Spark, ask an MIT student anything you want, and more!


Class Style
Standalone

W14481: Paint along with Bob Ross Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Sarah Weidman

I think this world would be a better place if we all spent a bit more time creating happy little trees <3

In this walk-in, I'll show a Bob Ross painting video and we'll all follow along at home! Use a piece of paper and some markers, fancy paints and a canvas, or a basic digital drawing tool - whatever you can find! Remember, the journey is more important than the final product :)


Class Style
Standalone

W14499: Learn and play SET! Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Hilary Zen

Come test how fast you can group cards into sets! SET is an easy-to-learn card game that will still have us staring at the card deck for hours. Learn a new skill, get in some practice, or impress us all with how fast you are!


Class Style
Standalone

W14490: 7.4 Seconds for Every Pokémon Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Jeffery Li

Game Freak has made a lot of Pokémon ever since Red and Blue came out - 8 generations' worth, in fact. Some are clearly more popular and liked, and some never see the light of day. Have you ever wanted to get a glimpse of every single one of them, and show them all some love? Come by and check out all of them in a ~mistake of a powerpoint~ gigantic slideshow featuring all of them, from the most Normal to the exotic, from the cutest to the most menacing, and from the derpiest to the most powerful!

No prior knowledge of Pokémon needed, only a deep desire to appreciate all the Pokémon out there :P


Class Style
Standalone

W14522: Virtual Board Games! Closed!
Difficulty: **

Come play some chill games, including ones you might not have heard of before. What exact game we play will depend on the number of people, but Avalon and Tichu are on the table.


Class Style
Standalone


Miscellaneous

[ Return to Category List ]

X14491: Chess gone Atomic Closed!
Difficulty: **

We will be exploring a chess variant: atomic chess! In this variant, whenever a capture happens, all pieces (other than maybe pawns) within a one-square radius gets blown up. In this class, we'll go over the rules in more depth, along with a few pointers to get started (as games can be very volatile, and it's very easily to lose instantly), and then play some games!


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
You will likely need a basic understanding of how pieces move and capture in chess, though we'll review a little bit at the beginning of the class.

X14502: n classes in 5n minutes Closed!
Difficulty: *

Do you ever feel like there aren't enough time blocks at Spark to take classes? Wish you could learn more about *everything*?

We'll be teaching you about 10 different topics, with 5 minutes for each! We don't know exactly what we'll teach yet (maybe we'll take suggestions from you all?) Perhaps we'll talk about Scrabble, making pop music, internet policy, mental math, firespinning, relativity, haircutting, and much, much more :D


Class Style
Standalone

X14513: Somewhat Obscure Greek Mythology Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Jensen Curtiss

Want to dive deeper into greek mythology? Look no further! This class will cover some of the myths not commonly mentioned in modern literature or popular culture and discuss why these myths have been largely ignored.


Class Style
Standalone

X14434: How to tie a tie Closed!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Isabel Anderson

If you'd like to learn how to tie a tie, or you only know one way and want to learn more, this class is for you! We will cover the three main ways of tying a tie, as well as some fancier knots if there is time.

Wearing ties is for everyone, so the only requirement is an interest in learning! However, it is BYOT (bring your own tie).


Class Style
Standalone

X14425: Intro to Business and Finance Closed!

So you’ve heard about finance... but what does that ~actually~ mean?

Come join our team of Sloan Business Club members to learn about general finance topics in an interactive 50-min session. After a brief lecture introducing you to the world of finance, you will engage in small groups with one of our members who will provide you with some tools to conduct simple analyses on potential investments.


Class Style
Standalone

X14457: Saltwater Aquariums & How to Breed Clownfish Closed!
Difficulty: *

This class is a fun course designed for anyone who loves talking about Finding Nemo, owns a fish tank, or is curious in how I began my clownfish business: Cam's Clownfish! We will explore the science behind fish tanks, where that pesky algae comes from, how to take care of baby fish, and what the different stages of clownfish growth look like. This class is meant to be fun and interactive!


Class Style
Standalone

X14500: Combatting Perfectionism: Learning to Fail Full!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Jessica Pan

Failing sucks. It's really just a horrible feeling. It usually feels like the end of the world, or even like a sign that you never should have tried at all.

One of the worst parts is that you know that you'll fail in the future. No matter how amazing someone is, they'll inevitably fail, probably thousands of times in their lifetime. But it's one thing to say that or be told that, and another when you fail yourself.

Failing just sucks, and perfectionism (the desire for everything you do to be perfect) can make every little thing feel like a failure. But one reason that failure is so hard to deal with is that you've probably never practiced!

Here, we'll go through some different exercises to practice messing up in front of the class. It'll be a mess of typos and bad drawings and mispronounced, stumbled sentences, and you'll walk out hopefully a little little more comfortable with mitsakes!


Class Style
Standalone

X14428: Planning Like a Pro: Learning to Bullet Journal Full!
Difficulty: *

Do you want to be more organized? Do traditional planners box you in? Bullet journaling is a do-it-yourself planning system that is customizable and has lots of room for creativity. You can even tailor your bullet journal to online learning :,)

Bring a blank notebook or several sheets of paper, a pen, and a life to organize!


Class Style
Standalone

X14520: Media Binds or Blinds? Eradicating Algorithmic Bias through Media Education Closed!
Difficulty: **

This workshop investigates the role of Algorithmic Bias/ Injustice integrating new technologies such as Global Positioning System (GPS) while developing global competencies, geospatial intelligence, and computational thinking skills. It offers creative strategies and possibilities for eradicating myths and misconceptions in education. We will engage in a wide range of media literacy activities exploring geospatial and computational thinking skills. We will investigate alternative points of view on news, global issues, algorithmic bias, and social justice through media literacy education.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
NA

X14414: D&D 101: Introduction to DMing Closed!
Difficulty: *

Have you always wanted to play DnD but nobody you know wants to run the game? Already played but want to branch out into running the game? Never heard of Dungeons and Dragons but love the sound of it and want to learn more? This is your chance to get involved! Topics covered: Session 0 and player buy-in, storyboarding, worldbuilding, combat and roleplay, and houserules and homebrew.


Class Style
Standalone

X14458: How to start an Indoor Garden Closed!
Difficulty: *

Ever wanted to start an indoor garden? Curious about how it's possible for plants to grow in WATER instead of dirt? Want to see some of the plants I am growing inside, like strawberries, basil, pineapple, aloe, and lettuce? Then this class is for YOU! This is a fun class where you can bring any questions you may have about gardening, and where you can learn how to easily start your own garden inside your room!


Class Style
Standalone

X14496: Pursuing Pleasure Closed!
Difficulty: **

What makes me happy? Does this make me feel good? How do I know what brings me ~pleasure~?

If these questions resonate with you, we invite you to join us for a conversation centered on finding, creating and prioritizing pleasure !


Class Style
Sequence

X14430: Embodiment Closed!
Difficulty: **

What messages do you hear about how you can or should move — whether sitting, fidgeting, singing, or anything in between? Can movement be a form of creative expression? Are technologies (like Zoom) designed with our physical bodies in mind? We’ll explore different ways movement relates to our lives through discussions, short readings/videos, and follow-along stretches/exercises you can do anywhere.


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
Some space and comfortable clothes to move around in. No equipment or experience required!

X14438: It is not a dungeon - it is an underground fortified defense installation Closed!
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Stirling Newberry

This class is run as a game but it is also about the features of the contemporary world which impact gaming: statistics, mapping, resources, and, on occasion, things like calculus. So on one hand we are going to be playing D&D to explore a world; on the other hand, this means concepts such as world building, mapping, judging what are characters can do in the world that they are in and so. If you want you may buy a player's handbook for 5th edition D&D (not required) and The Elusive Shift by Jon Peterson (again, not required) to explore some of the meta-gaming experiences which are part of the role-playing process.

So strap your armor on and pick your trustee weapon, but also think about how this relates to the world. (Batteries not included)


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
computer, internet connection, (optional) dice

X14422: Intro to Puzzle Hunts Closed!
Difficulty: **

Puzzle hunts are a fun way to solve puzzles together with friends! The goal is to solve several puzzles that culminate in a final challenge, called a 'metapuzzle'. After a presentation teaching common solving strategies, you'll have the opportunity to work on a small puzzle hunt with others. You don't need any specialized puzzle-solving knowledge to participate.


Class Style
Standalone

X14515: Something, Definitely Closed!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Jeffery Li, Alan Zhu

(Not to be confused with "Anything, Probably", and "Nothing, Possibly.")

Think "cheese platter", but imagine instead of different types of cheese, you have different kinds of knowledge. The class will consist of short (3-5 min.) and hopefully fun introductions to curated, meaningless topics which are definitely something. For example, if you asked someone on the street "what do you know about South Dakota?", they'd probably tell you, "well, it's definitely a state" and probably not much else.

Other example topics include the MBTA, highway numbering systems, neutrinos, and Pokémon Rumble. Sign up to find out what else we'll talk about!


Class Style
Standalone

X14523: How to Run a Spark! Closed!

Ever thought about what happens behind-the-scenes when you sign up for Spark classes? Or how all of our teachers and classes fit into MIT's Zoom rooms? Spark takes months to plan, and for good reason. Come learn how we make Spark happen every year!


Class Style
Standalone

X14505: Things You Should Know About Life Full!
Difficulty: *

There are things you should know about life. School teaches you many things, but often misses things like how to make your friends' parents like you, taking care of yourself when you're sick, and being smart about being stupid. We'll cover all that and more! Featuring a Q&A at the end and lots of room for questions during the class.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
None

X14454: Easy Bake! Closed!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Amy Li, Stacy Wang

Take a whisk, and learn how to bake with the simplest of ingredients. Join us for three batches of baking tips, (some) science, and of course, delectable treats! No experience is necessary, so let’s bake it ‘til we make it.


Class Style
Sequence

Prerequisites
If you’d like to bake along, you’ll need: ingredients (butter, flour, sugar, and possibly more), measuring spoons/cups, bowls, a mixing tool (chopsticks are definitely fine), flat pan, bread loaf pan, oven mitts.

X14521: Introduction to the Stock Market & Cryptocurrency
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Yasmin Sharbaf

What is the stock market? How do people invest in it? Is Bitcoin even a real currency? This course is a general overview of the stock market and cryptocurrency. Students will be introduced to how the market work, the risks involved in investing in stocks, and how to make an informed decision, and what factors to consider when investing. The course will also cover the history and definition of cryptocurrency. Students will also get a chance to do paper trading (no real money involved). This is a 101 course intended for students who have no background in the stock market.
Disclaimer: This course is not meant to encourage/discourage investing in the stock market nor does it involve risking real money. It is meant to provide you with tools to be informed about the stock market/cryptocurrency.


Class Style
Standalone

Prerequisites
N/A

X14440: Spontaneous 5-Minute Classes on Whatever You Want Closed!
Difficulty: *

You choose the title, we improvise a 5-minute lesson on it! Bring your wackiest topic suggestions, and watch us embarrass ourselves as we teach you about them on the spur of the moment.


Class Style
Standalone

X14453: Save a Life 101
Difficulty: **

Learn how to save lives using hands-only CPR and Stop the Bleed! Join MIT EMS's certified EMTs to learn the basics of how to stop major bleeding, recognize and react to a cardiac arrest, and perform high quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Afterwards, take a virtual tour inside MIT EMS's custom built ambulance!


Class Style
Standalone


Social Studies

[ Return to Category List ]

Z14445: False News: Why People Believe It, and How to Catch Online Lies Closed!
Difficulty: **

The internet is full of false news, rumors, and lies. Such 'misinformation' can be easily believed and spread. Why do so many people believe false news? And how can we become better consumers of information on the internet? In this class, we will work through these questions, cover some of the scientific work being done on the study of misinformation, and discuss tips and strategies for spotting false news.


Class Style
Standalone

Z14501: Who or what rules the Web?: Topics in Internet Policy Closed!
Difficulty: *

Is the government allowed to read your search history? How was Twitter allowed to ban Donald Trump? Can you upload a copy of your favorite song to Youtube?

In this three class Sequence, we’ll talk about who makes the rules of the Internet, who enforces them, and how all this applies to your life.


Class Style
Sequence

Z14444: Help solve climate change! Closed!
Difficulty: **
Teachers: John Gage

We know the technical changes needed for a relatively safe climate future: reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050 and reduce carbon dioxide in the air to 350 parts per million before 2100. We also know that when pollution is free, we get too much of it. Climate pollution is still free in most countries. The cheapest, fairest, and most comprehensive way to address our global climate pollution problem is a three-part solution:

1) Put a steadily increasing price on climate pollution when it enters the economy,
2) Give the money collected to the third party that is being harmed (all households equally), and
3) Use border carbon adjustments to protect US businesses and push our carbon price around the world.

A strong carbon price signal will incentivize efficiency, innovation, transition, and drawdown. Sending the cash back to households will protect purchasing power. It sounds so easy! What's preventing us from doing this? Is it possible to break the logjam and save ourselves? Can any of us do anything to help solve the most significant existential crisis human civilization has ever faced? Yes, we can.

Each of us can take effective action in this pivotal moment in humankind’s history. Ordinary people advocating for change is our last, best hope to avoid climate catastrophe. Let's get started right now!


Class Style
Standalone