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VSA 2018 Session 3 Courses

A word about course placement…

Classes fill quickly! Please consider your course choices carefully. While we will do our best to place you in your first choice class, it may be filled and we often have to place students in 2nd or 3rd
choice classes. As you review these course descriptions, please rank-order as many classes as you’d like, knowing that you may not get your first choice. Your deposit becomes non-refundable once we place you in a class that you have ranked. So, only rank classes that you are truly willing to take, and pay for!

View the VSA Waitlist policy.


VSA Session 3: July 8-27

Microscopy of Nanomaterials* – Waitlist Full

Adaptive Engineering – Waitlist Full

Programming and Computer Science – Waitlist Full

Med School 101* – Waitlist Full

Neuroscience of Brain Dysfunction – Waitlist Full

Special Topics in Mathematics*

Beyond Calculus*

Novel Writing

The (Big) Business of Social Change

Identity in the 21st Century

Economic Analysis in the Real World – Waitlist Full

New Problems in Rhetoric

Microscopy of Nanomaterials*

Nanoengineering, Chemical Engineering, Molecular Chemistry, Biochemistry

Today, some of the BIGGEST problems in medicine, science, and engineering are being solved with some of the smallest technologies. Nanoparticles are used in everything from computer science to cancer treatments. In this class, you will learn about the many different kinds of nanoparticles being discovered, their properties, and how scientists synthesize and manipulate them. In addition to lectures and research, this class will involve hands-on learning, laboratory experiences, and state of the art imaging tools to give you a greater understanding of the potential of nanoparticles and gain the skills to develop your own scientific research project.

Susan Verberne-Sutton

*Prerequisites: Chemistry

Additional Application Materials: Transcript

Adaptive Engineering

Electrical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Special Education

Adaptive engineers develop special equipment to help people with disabilities learn, play, and live productive lives. This class will develop your mechanical, electrical, and biomedical engineering skills. There will be multiple hands-on activities, research, guest speakers, and field trips. We will also partner with the Belmont Occupational Therapy and Vanderbilt Pediatric Occupational Therapy to adapt toys for children with disabilities, toys that will help them learn, play, and explore their world! So get ready to get creative and to start applying your own problem-solving skills to some of the real challenges engineers face every day!

Amanda Lowery

Programming and Computer Science

Computer Science, Complex Systems Science, Data Analysis

If you’re a creative problem-solver with a brain for technology, this could be just the class for you! In this course we will learn to use Python, an accessible programming language that is widely used in business, science, and software/web design. You will learn to query data, perform rapid calculations, and model complex systems. Daily exercises will give you an expanding knowledge base of fundamental programming skills, including writing programs and analyzing algorithms for complexity. Your challenge will be to build upon these skills as you develop your own code to create news alerts, games, and infectious disease models. You may not leave this class having launched the next trending app, but you will have the tools and the knowhow you need to start thinking like a computer scientist and help you in your future technological endeavors.

Ashlyn Karan

Med School 101*

Medicine, Biology, Chemistry

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) is one of the top hospitals in the country, so it is no surprise that the medical school is at the forefront when it comes to technology and teaching. In this course, you will work with many of the same computer and other virtual medical simulations as Vanderbilt medical students, and use problem-based learning to analyze and diagnose real medical case studies. Taught by a team of medical students, this course will utilize small group discussions, faculty lectures, lab exercises, and the latest resources and technologies from the Vanderbilt School of Medicine to learn about the the practice, ethics, and social impact of modern medicine.

NOTE: VUMC insurance and safety regulations state that students must be 16 years old by July 9 to participate. This policy is non-negotiable.

*Prerequisites: Biology, Chemistry

Additional Application Materials: Transcript, Two letters of recommendation.

Please visit here to access the recommendation form.

Neuroscience of Brain Dysfunction*

Psychology, Neuroscience, Technology

What are the functions performed by a typically functioning brain? What happens to the brain when these functions break down? This course initiates you into the processes of brain function and dysfunction as they relate to sleep, memory, and emotion. We will visit neuroscience labs and gain hands on experience with EEG and fMRI machines with an eye toward their application in scientific research. Through this course you will be equipped to independently evaluate the quality of studies and their results by reading and critiquing research articles from professional scientific journals. You will use your new skills to develop an empirical study that tests your own original hypothesis. And collectively, we’ll use our brainpower to unlock the hidden wonders of this most inscrutable organ.

NOTE: Because of the sometimes personal nature of classes that address mental health, you should carefully consider your own background and speak to the necessary professionals before opting to enroll in this course.

Mackenzie Sunday & Rebecca Cox

Special Topics in Mathematics*

Mathematics, Number Theory, Directed Study

This course is for anyone who loves math and wants to learn more about its varied and fascinating applications. It offers you a unique opportunity to expand your  knowledge and comprehension of math. We will work together to push the limits of your understanding through a combination of whole-group discussion and independent work. You will leave this class with a sampling of higher-level topics (such as game theory, probability, number theory, etc.), a deeper understanding of the math you have already learned, and an increased awareness of how math is used in the world today.

Dawson Gray

*Prerequisites: Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II

Additional Application Materials: Transcript

Beyond Calculus: Foundations of Real Analysis*

Logic, Number Theory, Geometry

What do you get when you add the angles of a triangle together. 180 degrees, right? Not always! Sometimes math doesn’t play by the rules you think you know. That is because math is not really about a set of steps, rules, or formulas. It is about solving problems and thinking clearly. In this class, you will gain familiarity with the reasoning behind the foundational branches of mathematics, such as how and why they developed. You will also challenge yourself with proof techniques and their applications to calculus and other problem solving situations. Using LaTeX, the standard software markup language of professional mathematicians, you will develop advanced posters, presentations, and papers. Are you up for the challenge? Are you ready to see how math really works?

Jordan Nikkel

*Prerequisites: Geometry, Pre-Calculus

Additional Application Materials: Transcript

Novel Writing

Creative Writing, Literature

It only took Herman Melville the better part of one summer to write Moby Dick. Jack Kerouac famously bragged that he wrote On the Road in just three weeks. In this class we hope to give those literary giants a run for their money. Often, aspiring novelists are daunted by the scope of the task in front of them. In this class, you will hone the arsenal of tools necessary for successful completion of a writing project of extended length. We will talk about conquering writer’s block, structuring narratives, developing characters, and manipulating plots. Most importantly, you will have the opportunity to get started on your own voyage to the next great American novel.

Jan Harris

The (Big) Business of Social Change

Anthropology, History, Business, and Economics

“Big Business” is often viewed as a profit-motivated defender of the status quo, but recent events have shown that even corporations can not manage to stay out of the culture wars—the struggle over what society should allow, support, and celebrate. This course examines how business can be targeted by movements, participate in the public square, and provoke societal transformation. Class activities may include case studies, guest speakers, exploration of empirical evidence, and engaging discussions, as we deliberate together on the role of the market in the formation of a just society.

Kelley Frances Fenelon

Identity in the 21st Century

Philosophy, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies

What does it mean to be you? To have a self? To be a person? In this class you will consider and discuss complex philosophical questions like these. Critical theories—particularly the unique interdisciplinary tools of Women’s and Gender Studies—will help you to critically analyze the ways people are perceived and perceive themselves in contemporary society. And you will create works of your own that reflect your own critical reading, thinking, and perspective on the formation and meaning of identity in the modern world.

Note: This class will involve scholarly consideration of issues relating to race, class, ability, gender, sexuality, etc. Students (and parents) should thus carefully consider whether this course is a good fit for them at this time.

Brandy Daniels

New Problems in Rhetoric

History, Public Policy, Politics, Persuasive Argument, Debate

How do you advocate for your political beliefs in the era of “fake news” — when people on either side of the aisle may reject your argument because it just doesn’t feel true? In this class, taught by a Vanderbilt professor, you will learn how the experts research, organize arguments related to contemporary political issues, and (if successful) even change minds. A significant point of consideration in this class will involve the new prominence appeals to emotion have in effective persuasion. This class will help you become a stronger writer, researcher, critical thinker, and to utilize persuasive techniques to positively contribute to our democratic political culture.

John Koch

Economic Analysis in the Real World

Economics, History, Statistics, Psychology

Does a “good” economy make people happier? How does Gross Domestic Product affect life expectancy? Questions like these fall to the science of economics. This class will teach you some of the fundamentals of economic theory with an eye toward building the skills you need to do economic analysis. You will learn to access, compile, and manage custom datasets and run analyses of those data using the software Stata. A culminating project will have you working with a team of your classmates to propose and present on a research question of your choosing. Whether you plan to go into politics, launch the next Fortune 500 company, or just love numbers and data, this course will help you unleash the power of economics to better comprehend the world in which we live.

Zeeshan Samad