2020(S08) Lecture:week 1

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Week 1 Tuesday

Challenge: Project Runway

Instructions: Today you will design, build (i.e. fold) and launch a paper airplane. Your goal is to make a plane that flies further than anyones. Working in teams of 3, choose one person to be the designer, one to be the builder, and one to be the launcher. You can talk to each other at all stages but be sure each person does the assigned job and that someone takes notes of your work together (decisions, uncertainties, disagreements, expertise etc). Your team may use the internet if you want. The designer has one dollar to spend and your team must keep track of costs. No refunds will be issued for parts you do not use. In the event of a tie, cost and aesthetics will serve as the tie breaker. Relevant materials cost:

  • paper is 30 cents a sheet
  • paper clips are 10 cents each
  • scotch tape is 5 cents per 1 inch strip
  • pennies cost 20 cents each
  • a pencil costs 10 cents
  • scissors are unavailable
  • a test flight before the competition costs 30 cents.

Your team has 20 minutes to design and build a plane for the competition. If you are not ready to launch at this time, you will forfeit.
Before you leave today: Spend 5 minutes to write down any ideas you have about this challenge. How did your paper airplane perform? What did you think about your role on the team? What did you learn? Why do you think this challenge was assigned? What would you do differently next time? Upload these responses to homework dropbox using the "lecture response log" tab found here

For next time

Draft a letter, due tomorrow. Address this letter to someone(s) you care about. Your letter should introduce and describe a real world problem or opportunity, one that you have inherited, identified, dreamt about, or otherwise encountered, and that you would like to solve or realize. Your letter should explain why you feel the problem or opportunity is important, and what the consequences of success might be. You can focus on more than one issue, but each issue needs to be explained. Please print and bring your letter to the studio tomorrow as well as uploading a copy to your personal design portfolio found here Time to complete this letter: 1 hour MAX.

Week 1 Studio

Part 1: Wednesday matinee

Instructions: Today you will have the opportunity to watch two of four videos showcasing completed iGEM projects. "iGEM" stands for the "international Genetically Engineered Machines" competition. It is a summer-long opportunity for teams of students working at colleges and universities around the world to design and build genetically engineered machines, many of which use standard biological parts from the Registry of Standard Biological Parts. The videos will orient you to the kinds of accomplishments realized in a summer by teams of undergraduates and their advisers.
Our featured presentations will be

which everyone will watch. We will then talk as a group to describe what was done.

Next you may choose to view either

After the presentation, you will have 10 minutes to gather with your fellow moviegoers and discuss what you saw, using these "iGEM review questions" as a guide for your conversations:

  1. what was the problem this team chose to address and why?
  2. is this an important problem and why or why not?
  3. did they succeed in part or in total?
  4. if you could ask this team one question what would it be?

Take notes since you will need to record your answers to these same questions as part of your homework assignment

Part 2: Dear John

As homework you were asked to draft a letter describing a real world problem or opportunity you have inherited that could be addressed in the near term. You should discuss these letters at your team tables and make some notes about them on the white boards. For example,

  • who were they addressed to?
  • how many problems/opportunities did each letter address?
  • what areas were tackled?
  • how many also proposed solutions to these problems?

One useful place to start is for each person to read a sentence or two that most clearly captures the intent of their letter. Once you've discussed the letters, you can revise them. Before tomorrow you should upload your revision to your personal design portfolio found here (see "for next time" assignment, below).

For next time

  1. For tomorrow: You should revise your letter. Consider commenting directly on what you were trying to accomplish with your revisions (e.g. "this paragraph needs a clearer topic sentence so reader knows that my great idea will follow."). Add the revision to your design portfolio found here.
  2. Before next Wednesday: You should watch one more iGEM presentation that is not on the list above and answer the same questions you addressed as a group. You should submit reviews for all 3 iGEM presentations you watched, adding them to your personal design portfolio found here. These are due one week from today...before the start of studio time, next Wednesday. Time to complete this assignment: ~1 hour watching and writing a commentary.

Week 1 Thursday

Challenge: Sexy on the inside 2

  1. Watch this video of a person taking apart a MacBook Air
  2. Working in groups of 4, you will take apart a tape recorder. One person should work the tools, another should record the process (e.g. "began by taking off back panel), another should keep a parts list (e.g. "4 Phillips-screws 3 mm long from back panel"), and the last person should record the purpose of each component (e.g. "Phillips screws held back panel in place). Your team's goal is to disassemble the tape recorder into the greatest number of re-usable parts... note of the word "reusable" since next time we meet, the goal will be to reassemble your tape recorder into a working machine. As you work, you may find it helpful to describe what you think each component does and if it's made of sub-components that can be separated further without forever destroying the component's function.
  3. Watch this video in which Gever Tulley talks about learning by doing.
  4. Complete your response journal entry before leaving lecture. In your response, you should note:
    • what the activity was
    • why you think it might have been included in this class
    • if the activity helped you think about:
      • ways to make biology easier to engineer
      • consequences of successfully engineering biology
      • clever ways nature solves physical challenges
      • ways nature innovates
    • if the activity has given you any new tools/considerations that could be useful for your project.

Upload these responses to the lecture response log in the homework dropbox that's here

For next time

  1. Read Adventures in SB. Using the problem or opportunity you described in your letter, draft a two chapter script for a comic book using characters from your imagination. In chapter 1, have the characters talk about the problem or opportunity. In chapter 2, have the characters brainstorm a way to solve the issue. Print these out to bring to the 20.020 studio time next Wednesday. You should also upload the script to your personal design portfolio that's found here. Time to complete this script: 1 hour MAX.
  2. Complete survey. Click here to start Only folks who complete this survey and the one that's coming at the end of the term will receive TechCash compensation for their time, so don't forget to do this. It should only take ~10 minutes.