MIT: Independent Activities Period: IAP

IAP 2018 Activities by Sponsor - Media Lab

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Biota Beats: Your Musical Microbiome

David Sun Kong, Ph.D., Director, Community Biotechnology Initiative, MIT Media Lab

Enrollment: Please email
Sign-up by 01/15
Limited to 25 participants
Attendance: Preference will be given to individuals able to attend all sessions

What does your microbiome sound like? The Media Lab, in collaboration with EMW Street Bio, a local community bio lab, has developed a hardware-software-wetware interface called BIOTA BEATS. Inspired by the DJ turntable, Biota Beats converts data about microbes from the body into music!

Biota Beats jas been covered in NPR, the Washington Post, and Scientific American, but to take this project to the next level we need YOU!

In this four-day IAP workshop, we will work in teams to design the next generation of Biota Beats. We will explore questions such as: what kinds of data can we gather about an individual's microbiome? How can we effectively visualize and sonify the data? How can we make the process interactive for users?

We are looking for creatives and nerds of all stripes, including biologists, hardware and software hackers, interaction designers, musicians, artists. Each day will feature speakers including experts in the science of the human microbiome, interaction design, and musical performance. Participants will work in teams to develop new concepts for Biota Beats to explore for 2018 and beyond!

To apply please send a short description of yourself, your technical / creative skills, and your interest in the project to, Director of the Community Biotechnology Initiative at the MIT Media Lab.

Sponsor(s): Media Lab
Contact: David Kong, DKONG@MIT.EDU

Add to Calendar Jan/22 Mon 01:00PM-04:00PM MIT Media Lab
Add to Calendar Jan/23 Tue 01:00PM-04:00PM MIT Media Lab
Add to Calendar Jan/24 Wed 01:00PM-04:00PM MIT Media Lab
Add to Calendar Jan/26 Fri 01:00PM-04:00PM MIT Media Lab

David Sun Kong, Ph.D. - Director, Community Biotechnology Initiative, MIT Media Lab

Dance And Design Making Lab

Karole Armitage, Director's Fellow Member

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)
Limited to 10 participants
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

Director's Fellows, Karole Armitage, inspired by the ferocious ability of the MIT participants from the 2017 workshop to create athletic and expressive movement, has decided to form the MIT Dancing Engineers Company. The plan is for the company to create at least one production to premiere in 2019. The theme for the performance will come from this workshop. Mornings will be devoted to dance and sound/music; afternoons will be devoted to design.  


No dance experience is necessary. Over the course of five sessions, Karole is interested in continuing to investigate calligraphic choreography derived from mapping Chinese ideograms. The session will begin with a short warm-up followed by analyzing an ideogram for its musicality and geometry.


Karole would like to meet with designers interested in creating moving/transforming components for the stage including costumes, morphing wigs, make-up, perfumes, body enhancing design, jewelry, objects, inflatables, lighting, bioluminescence, synthetic biology, etc. as a design or environmental element to be used as a part of the MIT Dancing Engineers Company performance. The workshop will be capped at 10 participants. All ideas are welcome!

Dates: January 22-26 , 2018 (detailed schedule tbd)

Location: Media Lab, E14-244

The workshop will culminate in a demonstration of selected material from the workshop at 12:00pm on Friday Jan.26 in the ACT Cube.

Please fill out this form if you're interested! 


Sponsor(s): Media Lab
Contact: Shanice Thompson, E-14 245, SHANICET@MIT.EDU

Add to Calendar Jan/22 Mon 02:00PM-02:00PM E-14 244, Bring your own laptop
Add to Calendar Jan/25 Thu 05:00PM-05:00PM E-14 244, Bring your own laptop

Karole will meet one on one with designers at a Media Lab (location of their choice) for a 60-90-minute individual brainstorming session between 2pm-5pm on Monday Jan. 22 and Tuesday, Jan 23 (first come first serve basis).  On Jan 24- 25 will be devoted to following up with further questions and ideas related to design and practical issues (first come first serve basis) from 2pm-5pm.


Karole Armitage - Director's Fellow Member

NEAQ 2069: Envisioning the Future Aquarium Experience

Federico Casalegno, Director: MIT Design Lab, Yihyun Lim, Associate Director: MIT Design Lab, Scott Penman, Designer: MIT Design Lab

Add to Calendar Jan/22 Mon 10:00AM-02:00PM E15-335
Add to Calendar Jan/22 Mon 02:00PM-06:00PM E15-335
Add to Calendar Jan/23 Tue 02:00PM-06:00PM E15-335
Add to Calendar Jan/24 Wed 02:00PM-06:00PM E15-335
Add to Calendar Jan/25 Thu 02:00PM-06:00PM E15-335
Add to Calendar Jan/26 Fri 02:00PM-06:00PM E14-240

Enrollment: Limited: Advance sign-up required
Attendance: Participants must attend all sessions
Prereq: none

Join us for an intense workshop January 22nd-26th to re-envision the future of the New England Aquarium.

The New England Aquarium opened in 1969. With the 50th anniversary of its opening on the horizon, the NEAQ intends to recapture its pioneering position by reinventing itself as a cutting-edge technological and educational facility, alongside its efforts to acquire a civic role to support communities, promote environmental sustainability, and help preserve our planet. The NEAQ is partnering with the Media Lab and the Design Lab to create an innovative vision of the future for New England Aquarium

Students will work in groups at MIT to create a vision for the NEAQ and to explore new technologies that can support this vision. The workshop will be accompanied by presentations from both aquarium researchers and MIT faculty. A summary of the student work will be presented at the 50th anniversary of the Aquarium in 2019.

For more information, please visit the workshop website.

Sponsor(s): Media Lab, MIT Design Lab
Contact: Scott Penman, SDPENMAN@MIT.EDU

The Game Of Music

Enrollment: Unlimited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/10
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

To All Solution-Seeking Labbers,

Classical music has a hard time reaching audiences outside its core demographic. Many people are intimidated by its culture, or think it’s ‘not for them’ (despite enjoying it in films, commercials, and TV shows). Orchestras need to find new ways to connect to new audiences, making use of new technology – the tech they’re already using, notably their phones, and the forms they are engaging with, including gaming.

Media Lab Director's Fellows Sheila Hayman and Colleen Macklin have a possible solution: a geo-location video/mobile game that will bring players into this music without obviously ‘teaching’, and encourage active listening.

In collaboration with the Parsons School of Design in New York, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) in London, and the Media Lab, we are hosting a 2-day hack-a-thon at the Media Lab to explore new ideas and technologies, and help the classical music industry connect with its audiences in new ways.

Dates: January 19-21, 2018 (detailed schedule tbd)

Location: Media Lab, E14-240


Areas of exploration and expertise:


Game Design & coding

Music/sound exploration


Urban environment

If you are interested in participating:

- Please talk to your PI/Supervisor and get their approval

- Fill out this form

- Application deadline: JANUARY 10, 2018

Sponsor(s): Media Lab
Contact: Shanice Thompson,