Course Announcement for Fall 1998:
Things that Think

CSCI 7000-004, call # 84298
CSCI 4830-004, call # 84297
ENVD 4352-003, call # 84332

This course will focus on the design of novel types of science toys, kits, museum exhibits, and personalized instruments. To this end, much of our work will employ "cricket" hardware and software. The cricket (pictured above), designed at the MIT Media Lab, is a small battery-powered device with built-in sensors and actuators, simple infrared communication capabilities, and sufficient memory to store a brief program.

The goal of the course is to explore and develop interesting, elegant, and aesthetically appealing artifacts for science education. Making such objects involves the integration of ideas from software design, hand crafting, and amateur electronics. Our intent is that students from various disciplines will work together in project teams.

Course readings will include material on the history and state of the art in science toys, kits, home instruments, and exhibits; topics in ubiquitous computing, "smart" materials, and "augmented reality"; and the philosophy of science education. We will also explore and critique a selection of current commercial science kits and toys.

Grading will be based on active participation in the design projects, the degree of complexity (or elegance), completion, documentation, and effectiveness of the 'sketch designs' and two major design projects, and the degree of collaboration and cooperation with other team members.

Graduate course (CSCI 7000): Graduate standing

Undergraduate course (CSCI 4830): Permission of instructor

For additional information contact Mike Eisenberg at