IN MEMORIAM

    Past Course Descriptions

    Click below to download course descriptions (in PDF form) for Spring 2011, 2012, and 2013 offerings.

    Use the Table of Contents below to easily browse Spring 2011 mini-course offerings: 

    Contents

    1. 1 Early Elementary (K - 2nd)
      1. 1.1 Beautiful Bugs
      2. 1.2 Fantastic Fungi: Mushrooms and More!
      3. 1.3 Falls, Flumes and Fun with Topography
    2. 2 Late Elementary (3rd - 5th)
      1. 2.1 Beautiful Bugs
      2. 2.2 Fantastic Fungi: Mushrooms and More!
      3. 2.3 The Archaeology of Mediterranean Economies: Agriculture and Trade in the Ancient World
      4. 2.4 An Introduction to Logic and Formal Mathematics
      5. 2.5 . . . And Physics for All: Tools for Understanding the World Around You
      6. 2.6 Falls, Flumes and Fun with Topography
      7. 2.7 Who Do You Think You Are?
    3. 3 Middle School (6th - 8th)
      1. 3.1 Chinese Language and Culture
      2. 3.2 Introduction to Modern Plant Biology
      3. 3.3 Let There Be Light: How Optics is Revolutionizing Science and Technology
      4. 3.4 The Search for New Worlds and New Life Forms Outside the Solar System
      5. 3.5 Raptivism: Positive Messages in Rap Music
      6. 3.6 The Science of Fermented Foods
      7. 3.7 Fantastic Fungi: Mushrooms and More!
      8. 3.8 Plants, People and Politics: How Plant Breeding Has Changed the World
      9. 3.9 From the Mystical to the Mundane: Exploring the Wonders of Electricity with Everyday Items
      10. 3.10 The Archaeology of Mediterranean Economies: Agriculture and Trade in the Ancient World
      11. 3.11 Electric Power Systems: Electricity Markets, the Smart Grid Initiative, and Related Topics
      12. 3.12 The Theory of Games: How to Never Lose at Tic-Tac-Toe
      13. 3.13 Figuring Out Our Place in the Universe!
      14. 3.14 An Introduction to Logic and Formal Mathematics
      15. 3.15 . . . And Physics for All: Tools for Understanding the World Around You
      16. 3.16 Falls, Flumes and Fun with Topography
      17. 3.17 Who Do You Think You Are?
    4. 4 High School (9th - 12th)
      1. 4.1 Chinese Language and Culture
      2. 4.2 Let There Be Light: How Optics is Revolutionizing Science and Technology
      3. 4.3 Post-Racial America: Reading Race in American Literature
      4. 4.4 Genes and You
      5. 4.5 The Search for New Worlds and New Life Forms Outside the Solar System
      6. 4.6 Raptivism: Positive Messages in Rap Music
      7. 4.7 Hollywood and History
      8. 4.8 The Science of Fermented Foods
      9. 4.9 Fantastic Fungi: Mushrooms and More!
      10. 4.10 Plants, People and Politics: How Plant Breeding Has Changed the World
      11. 4.11 From the Mystical to the Mundane: Exploring the Wonders of Electricity with Everyday Items
      12. 4.12 The Archaeology of Mediterranean Economies: Agriculture and Trade in the Ancient World
      13. 4.13 Electric Power Systems: Electricity Markets, the Smart Grid Initiative, and Related Topics
      14. 4.14 The Theory of Games: How to Never Lose at Tic-Tac-Toe
      15. 4.15 Figuring Out Our Place in the Universe!
      16. 4.16 An Introduction to Logic and Formal Mathematics
      17. 4.17 . . . And Physics for All: Tools for Understanding the World Around You
      18. 4.18 Falls, Flumes and Fun with Topography
      19. 4.19 Who Do You Think You Are?


    Early Elementary (K - 2nd)

    Beautiful Bugs

    Susan Cook-Patton and Scott McArt (3 sessions)

    We are surrounded by insects, yet most people barely notice them or appreciate their importance.  Why are there so many different insects?  Why should we appreciate the bugs in our yard?  This hands-on course will introduce students to common insects in Tompkins County and show how these organisms are an important part of a healthy ecosystem.  Two short field trips around school grounds will familiarize students with common backyard insects, including friendly bees and fuzzy spiders.  In the classroom, students will observe the basic life cycle of the hawk moth by rearing animals on tomato plants (egg, caterpillar, pupa, moth: 5 weeks).  In addition, students will be shown numerous charismatic insects from colonies kept at the Cornell Department of Entomology.  Students will learn why adaptations such as metamorphosis, feeding mode, and habitat specialization have allowed insects to become so diverse. This course is hands-on and will demonstrate how easy, intuitive and fun science can be!

    Fantastic Fungi: Mushrooms and More!

    Carly Summers and Ellen Crocker (4 sessions)
     
    Fungi are amazing!  These fascinating organisms play a diverse range of essential roles in our environment.  From mushrooms to molds and yeasts to lichens, fungi are everywhere yet remain mysterious.  What are they doing and why should we care?  This mini-course aims to introduce students to the world of fungi and use hands-on activities to stimulate thought about the roles they play.  Students will learn basic fungal characteristics by examining, drawing and identifying mushrooms. Lessons on fungal life cycles and food sources will highlight the diverse and wondrous ways that fungi interact with their environment. Finally, a short field trip around school grounds will familiarize students with different types of fungi and draw together the topics covered in previous lessons. To convey this information in a fun but informative way, we plan to use games and hand-on activities.

    Falls, Flumes and Fun with Topography

    Chelsea Miller (3 to 5 sessions)

    One fantastic piece of local history is the former Ithaca Gun/Fall Creek Mills site. Previously, there were a variety of mills on the site which were powered by water from the falls. Flumes were used to ferry the water from the falls to the mills' pump system. However, they were hazardous to maintain. The reason is the dramatic topography of the Fall Creek area. Then Ezra Cornell came along, and blasted a tunnel through the gorge which was safer and more efficient. What is a flume? The mini-course's first project would involve building miniature flumes (trestles to carry water from a water source to the destination) of our own which connect to a pump or water wheel to power a simple machine. What is topography? Our second project would involve exploring topography. What is this? Why is the way land forms important, especially to Ithaca Falls? We would build our own miniature topography models using cardboard, and learn how to read a simple "topo" map. How does topography influence history? The third session would involve creating a larger model of Ithaca Falls itself. This is a fairly complex site, but students would have a chance to visualize contour lines, natural and unnatural landscape formations and how to represent them. My hope is to inspire students to look outside their own front door for interesting and local history, with a fun and memorable hands-on approach.


    Late Elementary (3rd - 5th)

    Beautiful Bugs

    Susan Cook-Patton and Scott McArt (3 sessions)

    We are surrounded by insects, yet most people barely notice them or appreciate their importance.  Why are there so many different insects?  Why should we appreciate the bugs in our yard?  This hands-on course will introduce students to common insects in Tompkins County and show how these organisms are an important part of a healthy ecosystem.  Two short field trips around school grounds will familiarize students with common backyard insects, including friendly bees and fuzzy spiders.  In the classroom, students will observe the basic life cycle of the hawk moth by rearing animals on tomato plants (egg, caterpillar, pupa, moth: 5 weeks).  In addition, students will be shown numerous charismatic insects from colonies kept at the Cornell Department of Entomology.  Students will learn why adaptations such as metamorphosis, feeding mode, and habitat specialization have allowed insects to become so diverse. This course is hands-on and will demonstrate how easy, intuitive and fun science can be!

    Fantastic Fungi: Mushrooms and More!

    Carly Summers and Ellen Crocker (4 sessions)

    Fungi are amazing!  These fascinating organisms play a diverse range of essential roles in our environment.  From mushrooms to molds and yeasts to lichens, fungi are everywhere yet remain mysterious.  What are they doing and why should we care?  This mini-course aims to introduce students to the world of fungi and use hands-on activities to stimulate thought about the roles they play.  Students will learn basic fungal characteristics by examining, drawing and identifying mushrooms. Lessons on fungal life cycles and food sources will highlight the diverse and wondrous ways that fungi interact with their environment. Finally, a short field trip around school grounds will familiarize students with different types of fungi and draw together the topics covered in previous lessons. To convey this information in a fun but informative way, we plan to use games and hand-on activities.

    The Archaeology of Mediterranean Economies: Agriculture and Trade in the Ancient World

    Jeffrey Leon (5 sessions)

    This mini-course seeks to help students explore the economies of the Ancient Mediterranean (c. 1500 BC- 200 AD) and to understand how archaeology can inform us about the products we eat, drink, or use today, and the basic economic principles of trade, exchange and value.  Since most students will not have a background in archaeology, we will first discuss basic archaeological concepts.  In addition, we will focus on the archaeological evidence pertaining to five topics (which should roughly coincide with each of the five classes taught): farming, animal husbandry, commodity production (i.e. turning olives into olive oil, grain into flour, grapes into wine, or wool into textiles), transport, and exchange.  The course will address questions such as: when and why were plants or animals domesticated?  How were farms run in the ancient world? What was an ancient market like? What types of goods were produced at home and which were traded in markets?  How and why were goods transported throughout the Mediterranean region?  What is value and how was it determined in the Ancient World? The over-arching goal of this course is to get students thinking about the history behind not only the olive oil or pasta they eat for dinner, but also the more complicated economic concepts that have their roots in Ancient economies, such as value and trade. This course is easily adaptable for all ages.

    An Introduction to Logic and Formal Mathematics

    Mallory Gerace (5 sessions)

    Knowledge of logic and formal mathematics is a huge aid in developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. This mini-course is designed as a first introduction to this topic and will begin with an overview of formal logic and the general principle of Mathematics as a complete logical subject. This will include fun logic puzzles to engage the students in the material. Formal math will then be introduced in the form of number theory. Starting with the Axioms students will be able to prove such concepts as why there is only one 'one' and explain why we do not allow division by 0. Students will gain experience writing proofs and learn the foundations of the Algebraic structure of Mathematics. Depending on the course level and teachers wishes more advanced topics, such as cardinality, or functions could also be introduced in this context.  This course is very adaptable to a range of ages, since mathematics is a skill that helps throughout a student's education. For younger students, this course can be changed for focus more on games and activities that promote logical thinking, with less of a focus on mathematical formalism.

    . . . And Physics for All: Tools for Understanding the World Around You

    Alexander Alemi and Robert Wharton (5 sessions)

    We often associate physics with a bunch of equations and old guys with bad hair, but it's a lot more than that!  Physics (and science in general) is how we go about answering all the questions we have about the universe.  Why is the sky blue?  How far away are the stars?  In this mini-course we aim to give a fun introduction to the methods of modern physics, with special emphasis on all the things we wish we had learned in school.  We will learn estimation techniques and solve a few Fermi Problems (How many jelly beans in a jar? How many fish in the ocean?).  We'll show how important modeling and experiments are by studying zombies and playing with bubbles.  Our main goal for this mini-course is to show that even very complicated problems can be solved by asking the right questions and making appropriate observations and experiments.  As such, we plan to make this a very hands-on experience with lots of demonstrations and class participation. The class is very flexible and can be adapted to students of all ages.

    Falls, Flumes and Fun with Topography

    Chelsea Miller (3 to 5 sessions)

    One fantastic piece of local history is the former Ithaca Gun/Fall Creek Mills site. Previously, there were a variety of mills on the site which were powered by water from the falls. Flumes were used to ferry the water from the falls to the mills' pump system. However, they were hazardous to maintain. The reason is the dramatic topography of the Fall Creek area. Then Ezra Cornell came along, and blasted a tunnel through the gorge which was safer and more efficient. What is a flume? The mini-course's first project would involve building miniature flumes (trestles to carry water from a water source to the destination) of our own which connect to a pump or water wheel to power a simple machine. What is topography? Our second project would involve exploring topography. What is this? Why is the way land forms important, especially to Ithaca Falls? We would build our own miniature topography models using cardboard, and learn how to read a simple "topo" map. How does topography influence history? The third session would involve creating a larger model of Ithaca Falls itself. This is a fairly complex site, but students would have a chance to visualize contour lines, natural and unnatural landscape formations and how to represent them. My hope is to inspire students to look outside their own front door for interesting and local history, with a fun and memorable hands-on approach.

    Who Do You Think You Are?

    Anna Tran and Josh Cobb (5 sessions)

    Who am I?  Where did I come from?  These are questions that everyone at some point in time has asked himself/herself.  This course will provide students with the tools needed to pursue knowledge about their own family pedigree and history.  An introduction will be made as to the merits of family of history research, the difference between primary and secondary sources, database searching, and finally the role of modern genomic technology in pushing past the genealogical “brick wall”.  Since the field of family history is vast, our goal is to give students enough knowledge to get them excited to pursue their own research, not make them experts.  We also hope to have students connect to historical events in an effort to personalize what can be tedious subject for students.  For example, a student is much more likely to remember when D-Day or another significant event if they can connect the event to a person in their family.  Our course will be divided up into 5 modules which will include lecture, media presentation, hands-on computer learning, and discussion.  Students will give a final presentation about their own family tree and what they learned about their history.  Because of the course's focus, access to a computer lab is a necessary component.

     

    Middle School (6th - 8th)

    Chinese Language and Culture

    Jiajia Liu (4 sessions)

    In this course, a recent newcomer to the United States from China will share experiences from her home and connect two cultures together. The course will include an introduction to Chinese history and traditions, compared to modern-day Chinese policy and ways of life. Students, along with the graduate instructor, will explore the similarities and the differences between China and the USA. Finally, the course will conclude with a discussion of how to build a good relationship between the two countries and their citizens. This mini-course is an excellent opportunity for students to explore and engage with another culture in depth.

    Introduction to Modern Plant Biology

    Jennifer Spindel (5 or 6 sessions)

    Introduction to modern plant biology is a hands-on, experimental introduction to plant biology for 7th or 8th graders (adaptable to 6th grade). Each lesson aims to answer a fundamental question in plant biology with a set of fundamental principles discovered by the students themselves over the course of the lesson. Lessons will cover the fundamentals of photosynthesis, in which students deduce for themselves the roles of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide in plant growth through small-group activities and class discussion; plant development, with an emphasis on how it is different from animal development (lesson includes a bean dissection lab); plant reproduction with a focus on flowers (lesson includes a flower dissection lab); plant adaptations and diversity in the form of a game that emphasizes the use of observations to form hypotheses; and human uses for plants. At the conclusion of the mini-course, students will understand the fundamentals of photosynthesis, appreciate the diversity of plants, understand how plants are important to their daily lives, and will ask questions about the natural world. The course will also include a discussion of biotechnology and genetically modified foods, and how these "new" uses for plants can be used to solve problems. This course is most appropriate for 7th and 8th graders, but could easily be modified for 6th graders, and is adaptable to a block schedule. An optional 6th session for the mini-course is available.

    Let There Be Light: How Optics is Revolutionizing Science and Technology

    Biswajeet Guha (3 sessions)

    The history of sending information using light goes far back in human history. Smoke signals, beacon fires, and lighthouses are early examples of optical communication. Because light travels faster than anything else in the world, it is naturally a preferred way to send information. However, numerous challenges prevented commercial application of light as a "carrier" until the 1970s, when fiber-optic communication systems revolutionized the telecommunications industry. These systems have played a major role in the advent of the Information Age. This course will explain the principles behind fiber optical communication and lasers. We will explain how information can be transmitted using bits, what carriers are used, and why light is the preferred medium. To explain how fiber optics works, we will learn about reflection/refraction and waveguides, including a demo where a laser is shined into a water tank to view "total internal reflection." Then, we will explain how to guide and manipulate light, drawing parallels with electricity. We will also give examples from nature like rainbows, why the sky is blue, etc., and explore how these everyday phenomena tie together with communication systems. Finally, the course will introduce the concept of lasers. The course will conclude with some interesting applications of lasers like optical force and spectroscopy.

    The Search for New Worlds and New Life Forms Outside the Solar System

    Everett Schlawin (4 sessions)

    What kind of planets have we found so far outside the Solar System? How do we learn about them? What will we discover in the next decade? Where will we find life out there and how will we find it? Students taking this course will learn about the exciting and new field of exoplanets. We have gone from zero confirmed exoplanets in 1992 to 500 this year. So far, we have learned about exotic new worlds: Hot Jupiters, super Earths, water worlds and pulsar planets. The subject of exoplanets is full of fun and important physical principles: activities and lessons will revolve around the principles of light/radiation, Doppler shift, Kepler’s laws and Remote Sensing. Students completing this course should be able describe the planets we have found so far, how we discover and study these planets.

    Raptivism: Positive Messages in Rap Music

    Katherine Walker (3 sessions)

    This mini-course examines a category of rap music that transmits positive messages to African American and broader hip-hop communities. The mainstream characterization of hip-hop culture as gratuitously violent, misogynistic, and profane denies a whole category of rap music that transmits a socially conscious and positive message through music and lyrics. Without denying the very real problems associated with “gangsta” rap and the culture of violence that it fosters, this course focuses on the positive voices of hip-hop culture and the messages that they transmit. By examining songs such as “Self-Destruction” by Stop the Violence Movement; “Express Yourself,” by NWA; “Keep your Head Up,” by Tupac; and “I have a dream,” by Common, students will be challenged to deepen their understanding of rap music and its relationship to the African American experience. They will learn to derive significant musical and lyrical meanings from the songs, and, through them, they will reflect on the greater messages and agendas of the hip-hop movement. This mini course would bring a new dynamic to a history or social studies classroom, a music class, or a language arts classroom, and can be modified to meet your needs or for younger audiences. All versions of songs to be used in this mini-course are highly censored and age- and culturally-appropriate.

    The Science of Fermented Foods

    Charles Frohman and Nick Jackowetz (3 sessions)

    This mini-course will provide students with an introduction to food science and the production of fermented foods. Through discussion and hands-on activities, we will work to answer the questions, "What is the science of fermentation, how are fermented foods around the world made, and what do these foods tell us about the cultures that produce them?" During each session we will give a brief introduction to related fermented products, detailing the cultural significance of the foods, as well as the type of fermentation that is utilized to ferment them and the various chemical, microbiological, and sensorial changes that occur during the overall process. The latter portion of each class will be devoted to a cooking show-style demonstration of the preparation of fermented foods, in which we will present the class with samples of the foods during different stages of their production. When appropriate, we will encourage hands-on participation. Towards this end, students will have the opportunity to safely produce their own fermented foods, like sourdough bread and Kimchi, and to monitor the progress of their fermentations over a period of several weeks. By nature, this course will be a logical fit into any curriculum dealing with the biological sciences, but adaptations can be made to focus more on chemistry or general science themes if desired.

    Fantastic Fungi: Mushrooms and More!

    Carly Summers and Ellen Crocker (4 sessions)

    Fungi are amazing!  These fascinating organisms play a diverse range of essential roles in our environment.  From mushrooms to molds and yeasts to lichens, fungi are everywhere yet remain mysterious.  What are they doing and why should we care?  This mini-course aims to introduce students to the world of fungi and use hands-on activities to stimulate thought about the roles they play.  Students will learn basic fungal characteristics by examining, drawing and identifying mushrooms. Lessons on fungal life cycles and food sources will highlight the diverse and wondrous ways that fungi interact with their environment. Finally, a short field trip around school grounds will familiarize students with different types of fungi and draw together the topics covered in previous lessons. To convey this information in a fun but informative way, we plan to use games and hand-on activities.

    Plants, People and Politics: How Plant Breeding Has Changed the World

    Bill Holdsworth and Lindsay Wyatt (5 sessions)

    With nearly one billion people around the world going to bed hungry every day, and the global population rising to as many as nine billion people by the year 2050, the world community must face the daunting task of increasing food quality, supply, and security in the decades to come. One approach to tackling these issues is through plant breeding. In this mini-course, we will discuss what plant breeding is and how scientists use plant breeding to develop fruit, vegetable, and field crops. We will take a look at how farmers turned wild species into domesticated crops. We will then turn our attention to how today’s plant breeders use advances in the field of genetics to improve tried and true methods learned over centuries. We will use examples from breeding projects at Cornell, and facilitate some hands-on activities that show what plant breeders do every day.  A controversial topic over the past 10 years has been the development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and so we will weigh the potential benefits and risks of this technology. Finally, we will conclude with examples of the results of plant breeding around the world, allow students to come up with their own ideas for breeding projects, and provide some information on how to enter the field of plant breeding.

    From the Mystical to the Mundane: Exploring the Wonders of Electricity with Everyday Items

    Drew Brisbin and Patrick Lii (5 sessions)

    To many, electricity is a vague and mysterious concept, unseen but for the lights it powers and the computers it runs.  This course will give students a chance to experience electricity first hand, and gain a qualitative understanding of how it works.  The most meaningful learning occurs when students first possess an innate curiosity for the subject.  Therefore, this course aims to first entice students’ minds with hands on experiments.  Each session will be centered around one particular experiment or craft that illustrates a facet of electricity.  From the electricity storage jar made with scraps of aluminum foil and a plastic bottle, to the headphone that uses common office supplies, these activities use everyday household materials to make the mysteries of electricity tangible and remove the mysticism associated with expensive lab equipment.  Many of these projects will result in take-home experiments students can show off to friends and family.  Generally, the students will have a chance to explore and investigate on their own before the instructors explain the principles behind the experiment.

    The Archaeology of Mediterranean Economies: Agriculture and Trade in the Ancient World

    Jeffrey Leon (5 sessions)

    This mini-course seeks to help students explore the economies of the Ancient Mediterranean (c. 1500 BC- 200 AD) and to understand how archaeology can inform us about the products we eat, drink, or use today, and the basic economic principles of trade, exchange and value.  Since most students will not have a background in archaeology, we will first discuss basic archaeological concepts.  In addition, we will focus on the archaeological evidence pertaining to five topics (which should roughly coincide with each of the five classes taught): farming, animal husbandry, commodity production (i.e. turning olives into olive oil, grain into flour, grapes into wine, or wool into textiles), transport, and exchange.  The course will address questions such as: when and why were plants or animals domesticated?  How were farms run in the ancient world? What was an ancient market like? What types of goods were produced at home and which were traded in markets?  How and why were goods transported throughout the Mediterranean region?  What is value and how was it determined in the Ancient World? The over-arching goal of this course is to get students thinking about the history behind not only the olive oil or pasta they eat for dinner, but also the more complicated economic concepts that have their roots in Ancient economies, such as value and trade. This course is easily adaptable for all ages.

    Electric Power Systems: Electricity Markets, the Smart Grid Initiative, and Related Topics

    Dipayan Ghosh (3 sessions)

    This mini-course will introduce students to power systems and some of the key focuses of research and development in the power industry today. This would be a timely and meaningful course, since power systems are coming to the fore with the American smart grid initiative. In the first meeting, students will be taught the background of power systems (i.e., what is a power system, how is it set up, how does it work, etc.). As the course progresses, the students will be introduced to some of the most interesting and critical aspects of power systems. Firstly, the electric market will be described, and its structure and operation will be illustrated. Secondly, students will be introduced to the idea of the smart grid and smart metering, and how these tools can help reduce stress on a power system, reduce costs of energy to consumers, and so on. Thirdly, the consumer-side privacy and security issues related to smart metering implementation will be illustrated. All of these classes will incorporate interactive ‘games’ to help illustrate the relevant concepts and keep students interested. The course will attempt not to be overly mathematical or theoretical, but will touch on topics including game theory, optimization, microeconomics, security and privacy, and applied mathematics. Also, students will get some exposure to power systems-related software and other computational tools that are presently used in the power industry and in power systems research. This course would benefit greatly from classroom access to a digital projector that can be hooked up to a computer or laptop.

    The Theory of Games: How to Never Lose at Tic-Tac-Toe

    Raghuram Ramanjuan (3 sessions)

    Vervet monkeys give alarm calls to warn fellow monkeys about the presence of predators, often at great risk to themselves. What is the reason for this altruistic behavior? Why do democratic countries seldom go to war with each other? How should a company entering an established market for a commodity price and market its product to be successful? Is it possible to program a computer to play flawless chess? Game theory is a branch of mathematics that offers answers to these seemingly unrelated questions. The goal of this mini-course is to introduce students to the world of mathematical game theory. Students will partake in a variety of fun games and other activities while learning about basic concepts in game theory such as Nash equilibria and game trees. Connections will be made to other fundamental areas of mathematics including logic and probability theory. While the focus of the course is on how to play games well, this will also be placed in the larger context -- for example, how is game theory applied to real-world problems in e-commerce, economics, and evolutionary biology?

    Figuring Out Our Place in the Universe!

    Dan Tamayo (5 sessions)

    The vast majority of people have little feel for the scale of the universe.  But discovering this scale of our planet relative to our Solar System, galaxy and universe is an exciting adventure and brings about a fundamental change in our perspective of our surroundings and ourselves.  Furthermore, the quest for determining distances can be tackled by using only clever experiments and ratios--it is accessible to students of middle school age and higher.  Most importantly, these experiments underscore the PROCESS of DOING science--how to think about a problem and figure it out yourself, rather than simply absorbing facts. In this course, we will use shadows to estimate the size of the Earth, eclipses to figure out the distance to the Moon, and the lunar cycle to figure out the distance to the Sun.  We will discover parallax as the only way to directly measure the distances to close stars and the pulsations of giant Cepheid stars to determine the distance to nearby galaxies.  Finally, from our investigations of galaxies we will make the shocking discovery that our universe is, in fact, expanding! Students will embark on an exciting journey throughout the cosmos, and along the way learn of humans’ astronomical legacy, of phases of the Moon, of the type of galaxy we live in and of giant stars in their dying stages of evolution.  Most importantly, they will learn that the tools they have learned in school have already prepared them to make exciting scientific discoveries!

    An Introduction to Logic and Formal Mathematics

    Mallory Gerace (5 sessions)

    Knowledge of logic and formal mathematics is a huge aid in developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. This mini-course is designed as a first introduction to this topic and will begin with an overview of formal logic and the general principle of Mathematics as a complete logical subject. This will include fun logic puzzles to engage the students in the material. Formal math will then be introduced in the form of number theory. Starting with the Axioms students will be able to prove such concepts as why there is only one 'one' and explain why we do not allow division by 0. Students will gain experience writing proofs and learn the foundations of the Algebraic structure of Mathematics. Depending on the course level and teachers wishes more advanced topics, such as cardinality, or functions could also be introduced in this context.  This course is very adaptable to a range of ages, since mathematics is a skill that helps throughout a student's education. For younger students, this course can be changed for focus more on games and activities that promote logical thinking, with less of a focus on mathematical formalism.

    . . . And Physics for All: Tools for Understanding the World Around You

    Alexander Alemi and Robert Wharton (5 sessions)

    We often associate physics with a bunch of equations and old guys with bad hair, but it's a lot more than that!  Physics (and science in general) is how we go about answering all the questions we have about the universe.  Why is the sky blue?  How far away are the stars?  In this mini-course we aim to give a fun introduction to the methods of modern physics, with special emphasis on all the things we wish we had learned in school.  We will learn estimation techniques and solve a few Fermi Problems (How many jelly beans in a jar? How many fish in the ocean?).  We'll show how important modeling and experiments are by studying zombies and playing with bubbles.  Our main goal for this mini-course is to show that even very complicated problems can be solved by asking the right questions and making appropriate observations and experiments.  As such, we plan to make this a very hands-on experience with lots of demonstrations and class participation. The class is very flexible and can be adapted to students of all ages.

    Falls, Flumes and Fun with Topography

    Chelsea Miller (3 to 5 sessions)

    One fantastic piece of local history is the former Ithaca Gun/Fall Creek Mills site. Previously, there were a variety of mills on the site which were powered by water from the falls. Flumes were used to ferry the water from the falls to the mills' pump system. However, they were hazardous to maintain. The reason is the dramatic topography of the Fall Creek area. Then Ezra Cornell came along, and blasted a tunnel through the gorge which was safer and more efficient. What is a flume? The mini-course's first project would involve building miniature flumes (trestles to carry water from a water source to the destination) of our own which connect to a pump or water wheel to power a simple machine. What is topography? Our second project would involve exploring topography. What is this? Why is the way land forms important, especially to Ithaca Falls? We would build our own miniature topography models using cardboard, and learn how to read a simple "topo" map. How does topography influence history? The third session would involve creating a larger model of Ithaca Falls itself. This is a fairly complex site, but students would have a chance to visualize contour lines, natural and unnatural landscape formations and how to represent them. My hope is to inspire students to look outside their own front door for interesting and local history, with a fun and memorable hands-on approach.

    Who Do You Think You Are?

    Anna Tran and Josh Cobb (5 sessions)

    Who am I?  Where did I come from?  These are questions that everyone at some point in time has asked himself/herself.  This course will provide students with the tools needed to pursue knowledge about their own family pedigree and history.  An introduction will be made as to the merits of family of history research, the difference between primary and secondary sources, database searching, and finally the role of modern genomic technology in pushing past the genealogical “brick wall”.  Since the field of family history is vast, our goal is to give students enough knowledge to get them excited to pursue their own research, not make them experts.  We also hope to have students connect to historical events in an effort to personalize what can be tedious subject for students.  For example, a student is much more likely to remember when D-Day or another significant event if they can connect the event to a person in their family.  Our course will be divided up into 5 modules which will include lecture, media presentation, hands-on computer learning, and discussion.  Students will give a final presentation about their own family tree and what they learned about their history.  Because of the course's focus, access to a computer lab is a necessary component.

     

    High School (9th - 12th)

    Chinese Language and Culture

    Jiajia Liu (4 sessions)

    In this course, a recent newcomer to the United States from China will share experiences from her home and connect two cultures together. The course will include an introduction to Chinese history and traditions, compared to modern-day Chinese policy and ways of life. Students, along with the graduate instructor, will explore the similarities and the differences between China and the USA. Finally, the course will conclude with a discussion of how to build a good relationship between the two countries and their citizens. This mini-course is an excellent opportunity for students to explore and engage with another culture in depth.

    Let There Be Light: How Optics is Revolutionizing Science and Technology

    Biswajeet Guha (3 sessions)

    The history of sending information using light goes far back in human history. Smoke signals, beacon fires, and lighthouses are early examples of optical communication. Because light travels faster than anything else in the world, it is naturally a preferred way to send information. However, numerous challenges prevented commercial application of light as a "carrier" until the 1970s, when fiber-optic communication systems revolutionized the telecommunications industry. These systems have played a major role in the advent of the Information Age. This course will explain the principles behind fiber optical communication and lasers. We will explain how information can be transmitted using bits, what carriers are used, and why light is the preferred medium. To explain how fiber optics works, we will learn about reflection/refraction and waveguides, including a demo where a laser is shined into a water tank to view "total internal reflection." Then, we will explain how to guide and manipulate light, drawing parallels with electricity. We will also give examples from nature like rainbows, why the sky is blue, etc., and explore how these everyday phenomena tie together with communication systems. Finally, the course will introduce the concept of lasers. The course will conclude with some interesting applications of lasers like optical force and spectroscopy.

    Post-Racial America: Reading Race in American Literature

    Brigitte Fielder (5 sessions)

    To what extent is America post-racial?  This mini-course is an introduction to thinking critically about race through the reading and discussion of American Literatures.  It will take up the contemporary topic of “post-racial” America to examine the ways that writing about race contributes to the very construction of “modern” concepts of race in the United States. We will carefully consider a sampling of literary texts concerning race in order to examine the language and rhetoric by which we come to construct racial ideologies.  Students will be encouraged to think beyond discussions of racism and even “multicultural” understandings of race, and to examine race from a variety of historical perspectives that call into question contemporary cultural notions of the “post-racial” and of race, itself.  Reading a range of literature from the eighteenth through twenty-first centuries, we will discuss both contemporary and historical issues surrounding race, such as the historical and legal connections between race and slavery, the changing language of racial mixture, reading whiteness as racial construction, and the election of Barack Obama.  For this mini-course, I will focus on shorter texts, that students will have time to read carefully, and which we can more thoroughly-discuss as a group.  Texts will include short stories, poetry, and excerpts of autobiographical writing, from both well-known and under-read authors that could include Phyllis Wheatley, Lydia Maria Child, Rebecca Harding Davis, Louisa May Alcott, Zitkala-Ŝa, Sherman Alexie, and Barack Obama. The specific course content is flexible and will be modified to meet your classroom's and your curriculum's needs; text selections can be altered to fit, for example, a course focusing on British literature.

    Genes and You

    Erin Wissink (4 sessions)

    All of our cells have the same DNA yet they do vastly different things. While our neurons are enabling us to think, our pancreatic cells are releasing insulin to help us store energy and our white blood cells are protecting us from microbial invaders. What makes this great diversity of function possible? Regulation of gene expression! In this course I will introduce subjects such as memory storage, cancer, and fetal alcohol syndrome, and then describe the underlying gene regulation events responsible for these subjects. Topics can include cell signaling, transcription factors, epigenetics, and DNA packaging in the nucleus. All of these actions help determine if a gene is turned on or repressed. At the end of this mini-course, I hope that students will understand that our DNA is the blueprint of life, but it does not work alone. Environment and personal choices can affect how genes are regulated, and as a result, they can have a significant effect on our lives.

    The Search for New Worlds and New Life Forms Outside the Solar System

    Everett Schlawin (4 sessions)

    What kind of planets have we found so far outside the Solar System? How do we learn about them? What will we discover in the next decade? Where will we find life out there and how will we find it? Students taking this course will learn about the exciting and new field of exoplanets. We have gone from zero confirmed exoplanets in 1992 to 500 this year. So far, we have learned about exotic new worlds: Hot Jupiters, super Earths, water worlds and pulsar planets. The subject of exoplanets is full of fun and important physical principles: activities and lessons will revolve around the principles of light/radiation, Doppler shift, Kepler’s laws and Remote Sensing. Students completing this course should be able describe the planets we have found so far, how we discover and study these planets.

    Raptivism: Positive Messages in Rap Music

    Katherine Walker (3 sessions)

    This mini-course examines a category of rap music that transmits positive messages to African American and broader hip-hop communities. The mainstream characterization of hip-hop culture as gratuitously violent, misogynistic, and profane denies a whole category of rap music that transmits a socially conscious and positive message through music and lyrics. Without denying the very real problems associated with “gangsta” rap and the culture of violence that it fosters, this course focuses on the positive voices of hip-hop culture and the messages that they transmit. By examining songs such as “Self-Destruction” by Stop the Violence Movement; “Express Yourself,” by NWA; “Keep your Head Up,” by Tupac; and “I have a dream,” by Common, students will be challenged to deepen their understanding of rap music and its relationship to the African American experience. They will learn to derive significant musical and lyrical meanings from the songs, and, through them, they will reflect on the greater messages and agendas of the hip-hop movement. This mini course would bring a new dynamic to a history or social studies classroom, a music class, or a language arts classroom, and can be modified to meet your needs or for younger audiences. All versions of songs to be used in this mini-course are highly censored and age- and culturally-appropriate.

    Hollywood and History

    Kim Todt (5 sessions)

    Feature films pack great persuasive power, because viewing them is like witnessing crimes or automobile accidents: well-made movies hold your interest continuously, riveting all of your attention on “what happens next” and pulling you forward until the final credits roll.  For this reason, films have extraordinary power – unmatched by any other medium – to leave you with a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong, of who is bad and who is good, even though critical details presented in the movies may be slanted or false. Well, so what?  They are just movies.  In fact, they are not just movies.  Millions of Americans are fanatical history-lovers – their number grows each year – and they pack theaters every time new films on historical figures or events come to town.  Clearly, many Americans get most of their history from television and the big screen.  But what, exactly, are they getting?  Not enough, much of the time.  The odds are very high that most movies, at some point, will lead you away from history.  Historical “flattening” occurs in countless films with annoying frequency. This mini-course looks at 20th century American history through film (though this time period and focus can be adjusted to meet your classroom's needs).  The course will explore the integral role that film has played in depicting events from the 20th century.  We will examine a series of films, focusing on the context in which they were made, the larger historical themes they contain, and the various genres of historical film they represent. Through this mini-course, students will develop their critical thinking and analysis skills, and apply them to historical analysis, entertainment and media.

    The Science of Fermented Foods

    Charles Frohman and Nick Jackowetz (3 sessions)

    This mini-course will provide students with an introduction to food science and the production of fermented foods. Through discussion and hands-on activities, we will work to answer the questions, "What is the science of fermentation, how are fermented foods around the world made, and what do these foods tell us about the cultures that produce them?" During each session we will give a brief introduction to related fermented products, detailing the cultural significance of the foods, as well as the type of fermentation that is utilized to ferment them and the various chemical, microbiological, and sensorial changes that occur during the overall process. The latter portion of each class will be devoted to a cooking show-style demonstration of the preparation of fermented foods, in which we will present the class with samples of the foods during different stages of their production. When appropriate, we will encourage hands-on participation. Towards this end, students will have the opportunity to safely produce their own fermented foods, like sourdough bread and Kimchi, and to monitor the progress of their fermentations over a period of several weeks. By nature, this course will be a logical fit into any curriculum dealing with the biological sciences, but adaptations can be made to focus more on chemistry or general science themes if desired. 

    Fantastic Fungi: Mushrooms and More!

    Carly Summers and Ellen Crocker (4 sessions)

    Fungi are amazing! These fascinating organisms play a diverse range of essential roles in our environment. From mushrooms to molds and yeasts to lichens, fungi are everywhere yet remain mysterious. What are they doing and why should we care? This mini-course aims to introduce students to the world of fungi and use hands-on activities to stimulate thought about the roles they play. Students will learn basic fungal characteristics by examining, drawing and identifying mushrooms. Lessons on fungal life cycles and food sources will highlight the diverse and wondrous ways that fungi interact with their environments. Finally, a short field trip around school grounds will familiarize students with different types of fungi and draw together the topics covered in previous lessons. To convey this information in a fun but informative way, we plan to use games and hands-on activities.

    Plants, People and Politics: How Plant Breeding Has Changed the World

    Bill Holdsworth and Lindsay Wyatt (5 sessions)

    With nearly one billion people around the world going to bed hungry every day, and the global population rising to as many as nine billion people by the year 2050, the world community must face the daunting task of increasing food quality, supply, and security in the decades to come. One approach to tackling these issues is through plant breeding. In this mini-course, we will discuss what plant breeding is and how scientists use plant breeding to develop fruit, vegetable, and field crops. We will take a look at how farmers turned wild species into domesticated crops. We will then turn our attention to how today’s plant breeders use advances in the field of genetics to improve tried and true methods learned over centuries. We will use examples from breeding projects at Cornell, and facilitate some hands-on activities that show what plant breeders do every day.  A controversial topic over the past 10 years has been the development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and so we will weigh the potential benefits and risks of this technology. Finally, we will conclude with examples of the results of plant breeding around the world, allow students to come up with their own ideas for breeding projects, and provide some information on how to enter the field of plant breeding.

    From the Mystical to the Mundane: Exploring the Wonders of Electricity with Everyday Items

    Drew Brisbin and Patrick Lii (5 sessions)

    To many, electricity is a vague and mysterious concept, unseen but for the lights it powers and the computers it runs.  This course will give students a chance to experience electricity first hand, and gain a qualitative understanding of how it works.  The most meaningful learning occurs when students first possess an innate curiosity for the subject.  Therefore, this course aims to first entice students’ minds with hands on experiments.  Each session will be centered around one particular experiment or craft that illustrates a facet of electricity.  From the electricity storage jar made with scraps of aluminum foil and a plastic bottle, to the headphone that uses common office supplies, these activities use everyday household materials to make the mysteries of electricity tangible and remove the mysticism associated with expensive lab equipment.  Many of these projects will result in take-home experiments students can show off to friends and family.  Generally, the students will have a chance to explore and investigate on their own before the instructors explain the principles behind the experiment. 

    The Archaeology of Mediterranean Economies: Agriculture and Trade in the Ancient World

    Jeffrey Leon (5 sessions)

    This mini-course seeks to help students explore the economies of the Ancient Mediterranean (c. 1500 BC- 200 AD) and to understand how archaeology can inform us about the products we eat, drink, or use today, and the basic economic principles of trade, exchange and value.  Since most students will not have a background in archaeology, we will first discuss basic archaeological concepts.  In addition, we will focus on the archaeological evidence pertaining to five topics (which should roughly coincide with each of the five classes taught): farming, animal husbandry, commodity production (i.e. turning olives into olive oil, grain into flour, grapes into wine, or wool into textiles), transport, and exchange.  The course will address questions such as: when and why were plants or animals domesticated?  How were farms run in the ancient world? What was an ancient market like? What types of goods were produced at home and which were traded in markets?  How and why were goods transported throughout the Mediterranean region?  What is value and how was it determined in the Ancient World? The over-arching goal of this course is to get students thinking about the history behind not only the olive oil or pasta they eat for dinner, but also the more complicated economic concepts that have their roots in Ancient economies, such as value and trade. This course is easily adaptable for all ages. 

    Electric Power Systems: Electricity Markets, the Smart Grid Initiative, and Related Topics

    Dipayan Ghosh (3 sessions)

    This mini-course will introduce students to power systems and some of the key focuses of research and development in the power industry today. This would be a timely and meaningful course, since power systems are coming to the fore with the American smart grid initiative. In the first meeting, students will be taught the background of power systems (i.e., what is a power system, how is it set up, how does it work, etc.). As the course progresses, the students will be introduced to some of the most interesting and critical aspects of power systems. Firstly, the electric market will be described, and its structure and operation will be illustrated. Secondly, students will be introduced to the idea of the smart grid and smart metering, and how these tools can help reduce stress on a power system, reduce costs of energy to consumers, and so on. Thirdly, the consumer-side privacy and security issues related to smart metering implementation will be illustrated. All of these classes will incorporate interactive ‘games’ to help illustrate the relevant concepts and keep students interested. The course will attempt not to be overly mathematical or theoretical, but will touch on topics including game theory, optimization, microeconomics, security and privacy, and applied mathematics. Also, students will get some exposure to power systems-related software and other computational tools that are presently used in the power industry and in power systems research. This course would benefit greatly from classroom access to a digital projector that can be hooked up to a computer or laptop.

    The Theory of Games: How to Never Lose at Tic-Tac-Toe

    Raghuram Ramanjuan (3 sessions)

    Vervet monkeys give alarm calls to warn fellow monkeys about the presence of predators, often at great risk to themselves. What is the reason for this altruistic behavior? Why do democratic countries seldom go to war with each other? How should a company entering an established market for a commodity price and market its product to be successful? Is it possible to program a computer to play flawless chess? Game theory is a branch of mathematics that offers answers to these seemingly unrelated questions. The goal of this mini-course is to introduce students to the world of mathematical game theory. Students will partake in a variety of fun games and other activities while learning about basic concepts in game theory such as Nash equilibria and game trees. Connections will be made to other fundamental areas of mathematics including logic and probability theory. While the focus of the course is on how to play games well, this will also be placed in the larger context -- for example, how is game theory applied to real-world problems in e-commerce, economics, and evolutionary biology?

    Figuring Out Our Place in the Universe!

    Dan Tamayo (5 sessions)

    The vast majority of people have little feel for the scale of the universe.  But discovering this scale of our planet relative to our Solar System, galaxy and universe is an exciting adventure and brings about a fundamental change in our perspective of our surroundings and ourselves.  Furthermore, the quest for determining distances can be tackled by using only clever experiments and ratios--it is accessible to students of middle school age and higher.  Most importantly, these experiments underscore the PROCESS of DOING science--how to think about a problem and figure it out yourself, rather than simply absorbing facts. In this course, we will use shadows to estimate the size of the Earth, eclipses to figure out the distance to the Moon, and the lunar cycle to figure out the distance to the Sun.  We will discover parallax as the only way to directly measure the distances to close stars and the pulsations of giant Cepheid stars to determine the distance to nearby galaxies.  Finally, from our investigations of galaxies we will make the shocking discovery that our universe is, in fact, expanding! Students will embark on an exciting journey throughout the cosmos, and along the way learn of humans’ astronomical legacy, of phases of the Moon, of the type of galaxy we live in and of giant stars in their dying stages of evolution.  Most importantly, they will learn that the tools they have learned in school have already prepared them to make exciting scientific discoveries!

    An Introduction to Logic and Formal Mathematics

    Mallory Gerace (5 sessions)

    Knowledge of logic and formal mathematics is a huge aid in developing critical thinking and problem solving skills. This mini-course is designed as a first introduction to this topic and will begin with an overview of formal logic and the general principle of Mathematics as a complete logical subject. This will include fun logic puzzles to engage the students in the material. Formal math will then be introduced in the form of number theory. Starting with the Axioms students will be able to prove such concepts as why there is only one 'one' and explain why we do not allow division by 0. Students will gain experience writing proofs and learn the foundations of the Algebraic structure of Mathematics. Depending on the course level and teachers wishes more advanced topics, such as cardinality, or functions could also be introduced in this context.  This course is very adaptable to a range of ages, since mathematics is a skill that helps throughout a student's education. For younger students, this course can be changed for focus more on games and activities that promote logical thinking, with less of a focus on mathematical formalism. 

    . . . And Physics for All: Tools for Understanding the World Around You

    Alexander Alemi and Robert Wharton (5 sessions)

    We often associate physics with a bunch of equations and old guys with bad hair, but it's a lot more than that!  Physics (and science in general) is how we go about answering all the questions we have about the universe.  Why is the sky blue?  How far away are the stars?  In this mini-course we aim to give a fun introduction to the methods of modern physics, with special emphasis on all the things we wish we had learned in school.  We will learn estimation techniques and solve a few Fermi Problems (How many jelly beans in a jar? How many fish in the ocean?).  We'll show how important modeling and experiments are by studying zombies and playing with bubbles.  Our main goal for this mini-course is to show that even very complicated problems can be solved by asking the right questions and making appropriate observations and experiments.  As such, we plan to make this a very hands-on experience with lots of demonstrations and class participation. The class is very flexible and can be adapted to students of all ages.

    Falls, Flumes and Fun with Topography

    Chelsea Miller (3 to 5 sessions)

    One fantastic piece of local history is the former Ithaca Gun/Fall Creek Mills site. Previously, there were a variety of mills on the site which were powered by water from the falls. Flumes were used to ferry the water from the falls to the mills' pump system. However, they were hazardous to maintain. The reason is the dramatic topography of the Fall Creek area. Then Ezra Cornell came along, and blasted a tunnel through the gorge which was safer and more efficient. What is a flume? The mini-course's first project would involve building miniature flumes (trestles to carry water from a water source to the destination) of our own which connect to a pump or water wheel to power a simple machine. What is topography? Our second project would involve exploring topography. What is this? Why is the way land forms important, especially to Ithaca Falls? We would build our own miniature topography models using cardboard, and learn how to read a simple "topo" map. How does topography influence history? The third session would involve creating a larger model of Ithaca Falls itself. This is a fairly complex site, but students would have a chance to visualize contour lines, natural and unnatural landscape formations and how to represent them. My hope is to inspire students to look outside their own front door for interesting and local history, with a fun and memorable hands-on approach

    Who Do You Think You Are?

    Anna Tran and Josh Cobb (5 sessions)

    Who am I?  Where did I come from?  These are questions that everyone at some point in time has asked himself/herself.  This course will provide students with the tools needed to pursue knowledge about their own family pedigree and history.  An introduction will be made as to the merits of family of history research, the difference between primary and secondary sources, database searching, and finally the role of modern genomic technology in pushing past the genealogical “brick wall”.  Since the field of family history is vast, our goal is to give students enough knowledge to get them excited to pursue their own research, not make them experts.  We also hope to have students connect to historical events in an effort to personalize what can be tedious subject for students.  For example, a student is much more likely to remember when D-Day or another significant event if they can connect the event to a person in their family.  Our course will be divided up into 5 modules which will include lecture, media presentation, hands-on computer learning, and discussion.  Students will give a final presentation about their own family tree and what they learned about their history.  Because of the course's focus, access to a computer lab is a necessary component.