What would you teach if you could teach absolutely anything?
Suppose someone told you the following:
You are invited to teach a class to a group of highly-motivated high school students. It can be about absolutely any topic, and can last for as little as 5 minutes or as long as 9 hours.
What topic would you choose for your class?
As it happens, this is not just a hypothetical question for me at the moment. In November MIT is hosting its annual MIT Splash event, and the call for volunteer teachers is almost exactly what is written in the quote above. Students, staff, and faculty from all over MIT are invited to teach short courses on a topic of their choosing, and the results are pretty wild.
A few of my favorite courses from last year:
- The History of Video Game Music
- How to Create a Language
- Cryptography for People Without a Computer
- Build a Mini Aeroponic Farm
- Calculating Pi With a Coconut
- Advanced Topics in Murder
So now I would like to turn to you, dear blog readers, for help.
What should I teach about? Please let me know, in the comments, what you think about either of these two questions:
- If you were a high school student, what kind of class would you want to go to?
- If you were in my position, what kind of class would you want to teach?
The two ideas that come to mind immediately are:
- Quantum Mechanics with middle school math
Use Algebra 1 – level math to figure out answers to questions like: What is wave/particle duality? How big is an atom? How do magnets work? What is quantum entanglement?
- The Math Behind Basketball Strategy
Learn about some of the difficult strategic decisions that basketball teams are faced with, and see how they can be described with math. Then solve a few of them yourself!
Imagining yourself as a high school student, which of those two sounds better to you? Any suggestions for alternative ideas or refinements?
UPDATE: You can find my courses listed on the MIT Splash catalog here. Thanks for all your helpful comments, everyone! This should be a lot of fun.