They have homework assignments that require going to Six Flags and riding roller coasters. They study alchemy. Let’s face it, Johns Hopkins is doing a pretty rad job of making stodgy science classes fun and interactive, and in the process causing students in tedious Engineering 101 classes to seethe with jealousy. Case in point: the mechanical engineering class that ends with a giant potluck… featuring foods the students cooked themselves, using the robotics skills they learned in class.
Tag: cool college class
It’s a college class with no textbook, no exams, and a required field trip to Six Flags for “roller coaster research”: yep, college sure has changed since we were freshmen.
“Magic” isn’t usually a word you expect to hear echoing through the halls of Johns Hopkins’ science departments (unless maybe in reference to collectable trading cards). But in professor Lawrence Principe’s classroom, the so-called “outcast disciplines of science” — astrology, magic, and alchemy — have become the subject of serious discussion.
Though it may at first sound Hogwartsian, this is not, alas, a class where graduate students in chemistry learn to whip up love potions and protective charms. Instead, Principe hopes to foster an understanding of science’s present through the lens of its past. “We don’t want to have a history of science that’s written backwards—that only tells us where our current ideas come from,” Principe told the Johns Hopkins Arts & Sciences Magazine. “We want a truer depiction of the development of science. The truth is, astrology, alchemy, and magic were widespread practices that contributed to modern science and involved extremely intelligent people.” Astrology leads to astronomy, magic to medicine, and alchemy to chemistry; any history that tries to erase this esoteric heritage, Principe says, is not complete.
Even in toy-making class, college is not all fun and games. It’s just… mostly fun and games. “It’s more of a laid-back class,” said Alicia Kim, a Towson University student taking the Designing Toys class, which is run through the school’s art department. (Kim’s project is a plant-girl toy with interchangeable flower heads.) But toys are big business, too, and the class takes that into consideration as well. In lieu of a final exam, students present a prototype and a storyboard to toy-giant Hasbro (My Little Pony, G.I. Joe, Transformers, Monopoly, Playskool…), hoping to win a summer internship at the company’s Rhode Island headquarters.