2010-2011 Funded Projects

18.310C Principles of Discrete Applied Mathematics - $6,200

Prof. Peter W. Shor and Dr. Shan-Yuan Ho, Mathematics
Ms. Susan Ruff,, Writing and Humanistics Studies

The project will develop instructional materials for an existing novel experimental course. In particular, the team would like to produce textbook-quality course notes, innovative software demonstrations, and novel collaborative assignments. The experimental course 18.310C covers a broad yet deep survey of major topics in discrete mathematics. Applications to cross disciplines will be emphasized. It has a unique style both in content, presentation, and implementation.

Co-Innovation: Bringing Rural Africa into the MIT Class, Taking the MIT Class to Rural Africa - $20,000

Prof. Clapperton Chakanets Mavhunga, Science, Technology, and Society

This project seeks to bring together MIT students and villagers of Makuleke in rural northern South Africa into a collaborative 'knowledge partnership' that simultaneously improves the quality of the Institute's global courses, on the one hand, and the quality of life in the African villages, on the other. Makuleke, a village of about 12,000 people, offers a tranquil, crime-free, and friendly environment, and a rich diversity of human, faunal, plant, and inorganic resources that can enable MIT students to understand Africa through practical fieldwork experience. As a starting point, Professor Mavhunga would like to take three students there during summer and shoot a documentary called "African Energy Innovations."

Flash-forward/Flash-back in OpenCourseWare - $22,600

Prof. Haynes R. Miller, Mathematics
Ms. Cecilia d'Oliveira, OpenCourseWare
Prof. Karen Willcox, Aeronautics and Astronautics

This Class Funds project will develop internal links within the MIT OpenCourseWare site designed to help students in basic mathematics and sciences courses to see how the material they are currently learning is actually used in later courses, and for students in major courses (e.g. engineering courses) to quickly and accurately access background material from prerequisite courses (e.g. mathematics courses). These operations are called "Flash-forward" and "Flash-back."

Integrating Collaborative Technologies in Chemical Engineering Projects Laboratory - $11,130

Prof. Clark Colton, ChemE
Dr. Lisa Dush, Ms. Jane E. Kokernak, and Dr. Mya Poe, Writing and Humanistic Studies

This project will redesign subjects 10.26 and 10.29 to integrate web-based collaboration tools that facilitate the writing process of student teams and the assessment of writing quality by instructors. The project builds on a Spring 2010 small-scale pilot, funded by the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, in which some new collaborative technologies are being tested in 10.26/29. Based on the findings of the pilot, the team will use grant funds to develop curriculum materials and online templates for teams, train course faculty, assess the project, and disseminate their findings. Success in this project will lead to permanent change in 10.26/29, incubate the use of collaborative tools across Chemical Engineering, and carry into communication instruction at MIT.

Inverted Pendulum Laboratory Equipment for 6.302 - $15,100

Mr. Taylor W. Barton, Electrical Engineering

The aim of this project is to develop inverted pendulum laboratory equipment for use as a hands-on laboratory assignment in 6.302 (Feedback Systems). The inverted pendulum system is ideal for teaching classical feedback control because it incorporates a wide variety of concepts and analytical techniques taught in 6.302. In the past, course staff have used the inverted pendulum both as a lecture demonstration and as a discussion topic for feedback concepts as they are introduced throughout the semester. The addition of the proposed lab will give the students the satisfaction of balancing the inverted pendulum with a control scheme of their own devising, an experience that they can apply to a broad class of problems.

Learn-It Kits: A Hands-On Approach to Teach Machine Elements and Mechanical Design Principles - $29,000

Ms. Amy Smith, MechE
Mr. Victor Grau Serrat, Edgerton Center

Imagine a textbook, where you read about something then hold it in your hands, feel it, try it out and then see it in action. This is the experience that Ms. Smith and Mr. Grau Serrat hope to bring to MIT students with the Learn-It kits. They plan to develop a machine elements curriculum where every chapter is a box that contains real, physical examples of the elements along with explanations of how they work, guidelines for selecting and sizing the elements and examples of how they are used. The examples will show applications in a range of technologies, with a special emphasis on examples they have encountered in their D-Lab field work that highlight the creativity and skill of our community partners. Each box will include problems that will guide students through the process of analyzing and selecting the elements and when applicable, will also include simple experiments and exercises for the students to perform to deepen their knowledge and understanding of the principles that guide the use and performance of the elements.

Listening as Exploration: The Essence of Collaboration - $9,700

Ms. Jane A. Connor, Writing and Humanistic Studies

This project proposes the development, implementation, and preliminary testing of three two-hour modules for undergraduates to learn and practice the pragmatics of listening. Module 1 will explore self-awareness; Module 2, empathy and engagement; Module 3, negotiation and conflict resolution. Each module will include both theoretical and experiential learning, as well as real-time practice of communication tools.

Multimedia Chinese Textbook for Intermediate-High and Advanced-Low Learners - $18,000

Mr. Tong Chen, Foreign Languages and Literature

This project is intended to develop an online textbook by utilizing a collection of video clips organized around an array of topics concerning various aspects of Chinese life--from sociopolitical changes, economic issues, to historical events and cultural traditions. This online project will employ www.quia.com to design and develop rich on-line interactive exercises that will be meaning-centered and form-focused. The target students are intermediate-high and advanced-low non-heritage learners of Chinese, in other words, MIT students from Chinese regular 4 up to Chinese regular 5. When completed, the proposed textbook can be used as a stand-alone audio/video text or as a supplement to any advanced Chinese textbooks that tap on the similar topics. The goal is fourfold: (1). To overcome the lack of a proper textbook for these students; (2) to provide learners with authentic learning materials to enhance their Chinese language skills; (3) to help learners gain an insight into a changing China from various perspectives; and (4) to provide Chinese instructors with powerful resources for their teaching.

Principles of Engineering Practice Expansion - $20,120

Prof. Lionel C. Kimerling, Materials Science and Engineering
Ms. Mindy Baughman, Microphotonics Center

This Spring 2010, the Principles of Engineering (3.003) course embarks on its third year. Prof. Kimerling and Ms. Baughman seek to sustain the success of this couse for years four and five through the following goals:  1) coordinate a sustaining path with more departments and GEL collaboration, 2) expand the global content, and 3) continue to build the archives of lectures and solutions. Building on the successful collaboration with the University of Tokyo, it is their goal to maintain momentum and add a third global location to their 3.003 “world campus”. Beginning Spring term 2010, 3.003 will joint-teach one class with two classrooms: one at MIT and one at the University of Tokyo. Working with the Office of Educational Innovation and Technology (OEIT), the Global Classroom team will create an educational experience that teaches the basics of engineering to a multinational student base, uniting them through virtual technology, and providing an integrated system of feedback and mentorship among prior, current and future students.

Project to Re-design the CI-H Subject 21L.004 - Reading Poetry - $20,000

Prof. Noel B. Jackson, Prof. Mary Fuller, Prof. John Hildebidle, and Prof. Stephen James Tapscott, Literature

Professors Jackson, Fuller, Hildebidle, and Tapscott will develop and pilot a substantially re-designed, collaborative, and expanded version of the CI-H subject 21L.004 (Reading Poetry). They hope by increasing the profile of 21L.004 to: 1) to expose students to different voices from within the Literature Faculty and elsewhere; 2) to strengthen the status of the course as a gateway to more advanced literary study; and 3) to provide students with a solid introductory subject for work in humanistic fields that more broadly emphasize the development of skills in critical thinking and analytical prose writing.

Self-Defense for Women - $5,000

Mr. David Hagymas and Ms. Carrie Sampson Moore, DAPER

With statistics reporting that 1 out of 4 females are being sexually assaulted and the highest percentage being college students, there is a need for a first-rate course on rape prevention and self-defense to be offered consistently to female students at MIT. Students develop self-esteem, courage, alertness, confidence, and awareness to stay safe. This project aims to enhance the rape prevention/self-defense course, which is an approved offering for women to earn physical education points toward their GIR. Specifically, this funding will pay for equipment and training that would provide the students a lifelike self-defense experience in a controlled and safe manner.

Seminar on Physics Immersion for 8.01 Students - $12,350

Dr. Peter Dourmashkin, Physics
Dr. Analia Barrantes, Experimental Studies Group

Doctors Dourmashkin and Barrantes will run a two year educational experiment at the Experimental Study Group (ESG), starting in the summer of 2010, that will offer students who have done poorly on the mathematics diagnostic exam a chance to develop the necessary problem solving and mathematical sills to succeed in 8.01 at ESG. The students will attend a weekly seminar (for which they will earn six units of p/f credit) in which they will work on developing problem solving abilities and reviewing the mathematical tools needed to succeed in 8.01. The project will develop a series of modules with detailed teaching pedagogies and assessment exams that can be used both in ESG and in 8.01 in the regular curriculum during Fall 2010.

Staging Media: Performance, Popular Culture, and Storytelling - $15,000

Prof. Thomas DeFrantz, Music and Theater Arts
Prof. Ian Condry, Foreign Languages and Literature

Professors DeFrantz and Condry plan to develop and offer an innovative, interdisciplinary course called, "Staging Media", that will explore the intersections of media, performance, and popular culture. This team-taught course will provide an innovative approach to media studies and performance through readings, analysis, and student-centered performance events. The course will answer the question; what happens when mediated narratives are explored by living, breathing people? The course will also build on the unique potentials of students and faculty at MIT, many of whom are involved the analysis and creation of video games and other mediated delivery systems.

Survey Software for Undergraduate Research Projects - $2,500

Prof. Gabriel Salman Lenz, Political Science

This project addresses a problem Professor Lenz has identified in his Policital Science classes: the lack of good survey software for students. In the past, he has had students use open source and free software, but they suffer from limitations that detract from students’ experience. This Alumni Class Funds award will purchase a department-wide license of Qualtrics, a software package that Professor Lenz has found to be powerful enough but also easy to learn and that he feels will be ideal for his classes. It has a simple graphical interface, but has many more features, including the ability to randomize conditions for experiments. It has also been especially designed for working with students. He plans to use Qualtrics with 17.871, which has 12-15 students, and 17.20, which had 60 students last year. He will evaluate the software based on student feedback to determine its value in future classes.

The Energy Crisis: Past and Present - $24,976

Prof. Meg Jacobs, History

Professor Jacobs requested funds to develop a new undergraduate course, which will explore how Americans have confronted energy challenges since the 1970's. The primary areas of historical concern include the supply of energy and the environmental consequences of its use. The class will examine topics such as nuclear power, environmentalism, oil shortages, global warming, alternative energies, and Middle East foreign policy. This Alumni Class Funds award will enable Professor Jacobs to develop this into a big enrollment course with appeal to the substantial number of MIT undergraduates interested in energy. While MIT has pioneered an energy studies minor, there is currently no class on the history of energy or energy policy in the United States.

Using Video to Improve Communication Instruction - $13,700

Dr. Neal Lerner and Dr. Suzanne T. Lane, Writing and Humanistic Studies
Mr. Steve Gass and Mr. Chris Boebel, Libraries
Dr. Kathleen L. MacArthur, Curriculum & Faculty Support

This collaboration between the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, the MIT Libraries, and the Subcommittee on the Communications Requirement intends to support and further develop communication instruction at MIT with the use of instructional video, especially for CI subjects that are not currently supported by the WAC program. Their target audiences would be the students enrolled in CI subjects, as well as the faculty, instructors, lecturers, and TAs teaching in those subjects. The video for students will be focused on building general communication skills and delivered as "on-demand' learning; an instructional video for faculty, lecturers, and instructors teaching in CI subjects will be focused on activities to best ensure student learning.

Visualization in Mathematics, Science, and Technology - $18,140

Dr. Violeta Ivanova, Office of Educational Innovation and Technology, Edgerton Center
Prof. Katrin Wehrheim, Mathematics

Professors Ivanova and Wehrheim propose to develop a new undergraduate subject that will introduce students who are majoring in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering disciplines to the principles of visual communication, including aesthetics, design, and production of computer graphics, photographs, animations, and other visual media. In hands-on activities and assignments, the students will learn how to create still images and motions pictures in order to illustrate and explain concepts in mathematics, science, or engineering to audiences ranging from domain experts to the general public.

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