Splash Splash Spring 2022
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Arts Humanities
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A106: "Everything Has Changed": The Evolution of Taylor Swift’s Songwriting Eras
Difficulty: **

Calling all Swifties! This class will discuss the evolution of Taylor Swift's songwriting, rise to fame, and reception from her musical debut in 2006 to present day. First, we'll cover the span of her "eras", as they're known to her fan base, that correspond to the different genres and "looks" she has explored throughout her career. Then, we plan to look into lyrical and musical parallels between her eras, along with how her newer music epitomizes the self-reflection that has come with her maturity as an artist.

No previous background of Taylor Swift's life or music is required, though we hope those who sign up will have excitement and enthusiasm about exploring these things!

A110: The Politics of the Honky Tonk: the Inextricability of Country Music and Progressive Ideologies
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Colby Meeks

This course will briefly and broadly explore the evolution of country music from its inception in the Honky Tonk towards contemporary sounds and songs of the genre through tracing progressive ideologies in the genre. From "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" to "The Pill" to "Follow Your Arrow" the class will explore how country music has pushed against conservatism since its inception.

A105: How to be Funny!
Difficulty: *

Do you know how to defeat a gang of murderous clowns? You go for the juggler! (Insert laugh here.) This class will serve as an introduction to the art of stand-up comedy. We'll explore some of the most fundamental styles of comedic writing, practice our joke-delivery, and get started writing our own sets. T'will be a barrel of laughs. And informative. And enlightening. And fun. Yay!

A117: Stars and Fire: An Introduction to Lighting
Difficulty: *

How can a red apple appear to be black? Why isn’t magenta a “real” color? What do the words “gel,” “gaffer,” and “gobo” mean? In this class, we’ll learn about light: what it is, how it works, and how we can use it to shape the world around us. Starting with the basics, we’ll cover the physical properties of light and types of light sources before introducing common lighting design concepts. Through analyzing photos and footage, we’ll gain a feel for the numerous applications of lighting design in fields as diverse as architecture, dance, 3D animation, photography, and theater, and we’ll learn how to take advantage of our lighting environments in daily life. In honing our understanding of this ephemeral medium, we’ll develop a more thoughtful perception of the world around us and an appreciation for lighting design in all its shapes and forms.

A123: What the F is Graphic Design?
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Yasmeen Alfaqeeh

Why do people care so much about fonts? What does the color wheel have to do with my life? Do graphic designers even exist? This course is meant to be an introduction to the principles of graphic design, teaching students the fundamentals of creating compelling or "good" design. Whether design is your ~passion~ or you want to make nice slides for your class presentations, come learn about graphic design!

A120: A Brief Introduction to Japanese Art
Difficulty: **

Join us to discover the intricate history of Japanese Art! This course will cover the themes and notable works of Japanese Art from the year 11,000 BCE through the present day. Through examining over a dozen different sculptures, buildings, paintings, and prints, students will learn about art techniques, cultural trends, and what inspired Japanese artists.

Students are encouraged to have access to art supplies (markers, paints, pens) and a blank sheet of white paper for an end-of-class exercise.

No required prerequisites. Students are encouraged to have access to art supplies (markers, paints, pens) and a blank sheet of white paper for an end-of-class exercise.


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H112: Race, Ethnicity, and Empire in Ancient Rome
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Dante Minutillo

From its foundation in 753 B.C. to the fall of its western half in 476 A.D., Rome built a large, multi-ethnic empire centered around the Mediterranean Sea. How did the Romans interact with and think about these different groups? Did they have a concept of "race" in the modern sense? How did literary sources and administrative realities influence their views? Using primary sources from a variety of genres of Greek and Roman literature, we will look especially at Gauls and Germans to the north and Africans to the south to answer these questions. At the same time, we will explore how Roman attitudes have influenced more recent thinkers and dispel a variety of modern misconceptions about Rome.

No prior knowledge about Ancient Rome is assumed. Anyone with a willingness to learn and think is welcome!

H113: Historical Linguistics: The Life Story of Languages
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Blake Lopez

Five thousand years ago, English, Spanish, Russian, Hindi, and dozens of other languages across Eurasia were all a single language called Proto-Indo-European, which was never written down and which nobody still speaks. How can we claim the existence of a language that was never written down? How do we know that modern languages were once the same language, and how exactly can languages differentiate and change so drastically throughout history? In this introduction to Historical Linguistics, we'll answer all these questions and more and learn the meaning behind specific terms like "sound change," "analogy," and "(linguistic) genetic relationship."

H109: Debates in Bioethics
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Uzma Issa

In this class, we will explore various ideas and values that come to play in a discussion about bioethics. With our medical world constantly evolving, we need to find a way to deal with certain controversies that will come up. Throughout the class, we will learn about new topics in the field of bioethics and explore important terms and concepts relating to them. After reading passages on these topics, we will then discuss these big questions. For example: “Should genetic enhancement be allowed if a couple is using embryonic selection to choose their baby?” “When a person expresses different interests before and after developing a severe case of dementia, which version of the person should we listen to?” This discussion-based class will allow you to understand more about these pressing issues in the field of bioethics while engaging with other students about your own perspectives on these topics.

H111: Linguistic and Religious Evidence in Incantation Bowls
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Shoshana Boardman

The Babylonian incantation bowls were found buried under houses, intended to protect the 3rd-7th century households from malevolent entities. The incantations written on their surfaces have provided a wealth of information about the Jewish, Christian, and Mandaic minority communities of this time period. Let's talk about late antique religion, Semitic linguistics, and how to think about ancient texts.

Math & Computer Science

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M121: Cryptography: The Art of "Secret Writing"?
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Henry Kuo

Can I convince you that something exists without revealing any other information? How about manipulating data secured in a black box without unlocking it? What does it mean to be able to securely communicate information between parties?

The course will start out with an interactive session to demonstrate what "secure" means in cryptography. Next, we will introduce some traditional methods in cryptography, including private and public-key encryption. Finally, modern cryptographic schemes such as zero-knowledge proofs, fully homomorphic encryption, multiparty secure computation, software obfuscation, and ethics will be discussed.

This course is meant to pique people's interest in the vast field of cryptography, not a comprehensive introduction to cryptography. Some formal notations will be omitted. Furthermore, we will focus on the mathematical tools of cryptography, and the security of implementing cryptographic algorithms will not be discussed. As always, please do not implement/invent your own cryptographic tools after taking this course!

Some background in probability and statistics would be helpful. https://www.khanacademy.org/math/statistics-probability/probability-library


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S122: Out of the World: Detecting Exoplanets!
Difficulty: **

Thirty years ago, the planets of the Solar System were the only ones we knew existed. Today, we know of over 5,000 confirmed exoplanets (planetary systems outside of the Solar System)!

How did scientists detect these planets? What similarities and differences to the Earth can we observe? Could extrasolar planets potentially host alien life?

Come talk about exoplanets and learn about one of the most exciting fields in astronomy today!

S107: Making Sense Out of Senses
Difficulty: ***
Teachers: Maya Pena-Lobel

Did you know that humans have more than 5 senses? Have you ever wondered what it means for your brain to be cross-wired? Do you ever experience color when reading or listening to music?

This class will explore human sensory perception and examine what neurological structures are involved in sensory processing. We will learn about both external and internal senses, and talk about cases where our senses might not work properly. Finally, we will learn about synesthesia, which is a phenomenon in which certain sensory stimuli induce an ordinarily unstimulated sensory perception (e.g. hearing colors, smelling shapes, tasting sounds).

This course does not assume prior knowledge of the brain or its functions, but a basic understanding of neurological mechanisms would be helpful.

S108: Pandora: The Scientifically Astounding World of Avatar
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Lang Le

Pandora - “It's kinda the Garden of Eden with teeth and claws” (James Cameron).
What a beautiful and wonderful world to live in. Between the floating islands, the gorgeous wildlife, and the breathtaking bioluminescence of the night, Pandora is a world to behold. But how much of it is inconceivable? This course aims to provide insight into how such a world could exist, following the geological, biological, and chemical principles we know on Earth. We will discuss how such life might come to be, and how the geological traits of Pandora shape the life that thrives. Finally, we will conclude with an ethics debate about community connections through a hive mind.

S114: Exploring biological problems through simulation
Difficulty: **

Over the last 100 years, computing power has made it possible to simulate a variety of physical processes. In this course, we will study a few classical topics in biology (sequence prediction, bacterial chemotaxis, and protein dynamics) and explore them through simulation using a platform called Google Colab (https://colab.research.google.com/). No prior coding experience is necessary, but we ask that participants create Google accounts beforehand (if they do not already have one) so that they can play with the simulations during the course.

Calculus recommended; interest in biology.

S116: Reading Scientific Papers
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Shanivi Srikonda

Science is everywhere, but reading a scientific paper can seem daunting. From the specific way scientific papers are formatted to understanding figures and data, it can be a journey to even figure out where to start. Have no fear! This class will equip you with the skills to become familiar with a scientific paper's formatting, flow, and how to effectively figure out what the paper is about. Understanding scientific literature is very important, and understanding how to accurately read a scientific paper is even more important. The lesson will consist of exploring a scientific paper, breaking it down, and accurately understand it through interactive elements such as polls, Q&As, and discussion.

A familiarity with science is helpful but not required.

S118: Rewiring the nervous system: introduction to axon regeneration
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Caleb Shi

Salamanders can easily regenerate their nervous systems after injury, including their spinal cord, brain, and retina. Humans, however, lack this regenerative ability in the central nervous system. Injuries to the central nervous system are therefore permanent and can cause paralysis and blindness, among other effects. In this class, we’ll start by exploring the nervous system and the characteristics of some of the cell types contained within it. Then, we’ll take a closer look at why we are unable to regenerate these cell types as well as salamanders can and how that poses a pressing problem in human health. Finally, we’ll talk about some of the research focusing on finding ways to increase the regenerative ability of the human nervous system, including gene therapy through CRISPR and stem cell therapy.


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X115: Uncovering the Dark Corners of the Human Psyche: Introduction to Abnormal Psychology
Difficulty: **
Teachers: Truong Nguyen

It is estimated that around 988 million people in the world had some form of mental or psychological disorder in 2018. One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. The cost of these psychological disorders, both in terms of personal suffering and socioeconomic burden, is astronomical. As long as psychopathology remains the stuff of myth and legend, rather than a target for empirical, scientific investigation, then we have little hope for preventing and treating these devastating disorders. In this seminar, we will explore those dark corners of the human mind using the bright light of science to understand what these disorders are (Description and Diagnosis) , their causes (Etiology and Pathophysiology), and how best to treat them (Treatment).


X119: Wrangling Uncertainty!
Difficulty: *
Teachers: Aishani Aatresh

Ever thought about how you make a decision despite not having all the information? How you feel when you're not entirely sure but have to go ahead anyway? What the future has in store -- the unexplored frontier, the unknown? These are questions that are faced not only at a personal level but also at every level of society and the world, and this course is an opportunity to dive into how we think about and handle uncertainty in our daily lives and more formally, whether in academic fields in science or in policymaking. This will include a healthy dose of reflection a little bit of everything in between history and comedy and science and food. All are welcome!