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2017-18 WAVU Courses

Fall 2017
Grades 7-8
Grades 9-10

Spring 2018
Grades 7-8
Grades 9-10

Fall 2017

Grades 7-8

Entrepreneurial Problem Solving – Waiting list only, course currently full

So, you want to run your own business one day? Successful entrepreneurship begins with an aptitude for problem solving. In this lab, you will solve problems the way entrepreneurs do. You will utilize business strategies—from design plans, to product launch, and to daily operations—to gain experience addressing the kinds of challenges professionals face in today’s fast-paced, ever changing business environment. This lab will emphasize teamwork, mathematical concepts, and presentation skills, while establishing a foundation of core business principles.

Writing Place and Space – Available

For many accomplished writers, location is the lifeblood of their work. Their stories and essays show us that place can be as much a character on the page as any human. The inside of a 1972 Volvo can be more significant than the dialogue between driver and passenger. A front porch can embody a character’s self-awakening. When you know how to write well about place, you also make yourself a useful writer for magazine and publishers. In this advanced writing lab, we will explore how to turn writing about location into an employable skill, but more important, how to write to know ourselves and the places we call home, wherever they are.

Non-Euclidean Geometry – Waiting list only, course currently full

Get ready to re-think everything you think you know about math! Forget about number crunching and memorizing equations! (Don’t really forget about them, because you need to know that stuff to pass tests.) That is not how really advanced mathematicians spend their time. PhD-level math is less about how to “do” math “things” and more about why math is the way it is. This mathematics course will introduce you to a more advanced way of doing math by working through a famous geometry problem about something as deceptively simple as parallel lines. Through this and other activities you will have a greater understanding that what many people call basic math “facts” may not be facts at all.

Forensic Anthropology – Waiting list only, course currently full

Skeletons are shaped and formed by the lives they have lived – evidence that can be used in establishing identity and cause of death. In this laboratory environment, students will have the opportunity to work with real human skeletons in the Vanderbilt University Osteology Laboratory where they will apply some of the methods used by forensic anthropologists to determine age and sex from the skeleton itself, and will delve even deeper to learn how trauma, health, and even diet (through chemical analysis) can give clues that are used to resolve victim identity. By the end of the day, these once silent bones will speak volumes.

Grades 9-10

Clinical Virology – Limited availability

Learn what it’s like to do research in the field of clinical virology from a Vanderbilt post-doc with  expertise in HIV research. Through lecture, hands-on lab experience, and group projects, you will learn more about the properties of viruses and how they operate. With HIV principles as your model, you will also learn how scientists study viruses in order to treat viral diseases and prevent viral outbreaks. At the end of this fast-paced day you can expect to walk away with a new understanding of clinical virology, along with a roadmap of possible pathways that could lead to a career in biomedical science.

Adaptive Engineering – Waiting list only, course currently full

This lab will involve a service learning project that will introduce you to some basic concepts, techniques, and career paths in the field of engineering. A Vanderbilt biomedical engineering professor will introduce you to mechanical, electrical, and biomedical engineering skills so that you can redesign, rewire, and rebuild toys for children with developmental disabilities. Some topics will include circuit diagrams, mechanical free body diagrams, and the engineering design process. So get creative, and start applying your problem-solving skills to some of the real challenges engineers face every day!

Psychology of Sleep Disorders – Limited availability

Sleep. We spend one-third of our lives doing it, but we understand relatively little about how sleep works. In this lab you will explore the rapidly changing field of sleep medicine, learning theories on why we sleep, the brain functions that support sleep, and sleep disorders and how specialists treat them. Along the way, you will learn how to scientifically measure sleep and have the opportunity to develop your own research project on sleep disorders. This course will also include practical advice and guidance on pursuing careers in psychology and behavioral medicine.

Spring 2018

Grades 7-8

Trajectories in Astrophysics – Waiting list only, course currently full

Some of the most interesting news in Solar System planets, extrasolar planets, stars, and galaxies is gathered by astrophysicists. This lab will introduce you to both observational and theoretical aspects of the profession. A Vanderbilt astronomy professor will work with you to gather open source scientific data about the universe, construct and analyze graphs and computer models, compare your models to real world experience, and construct the kinds of well-crafted research questions that may one day inform you own scientific explorations. When it comes to astrophysics, the possibilities are as vast and diverse as the universe itself.

Demystifying Data Technologies – Available

Have you ever wondered how Netflix knows what movies you’ll enjoy or how YouTube suggests just the right music video to watch? We live in the Information Age. Every second, about 798 Instagram photos are viewed; 7,722 Tweets are sent; and 70,420 YouTube videos are streamed. With every click, drag, and tap, you communicate information to companies that analyze your data in an instant. In this lab, you will discover emerging ways that data are organized and processed. Topics to be covered include “Big Data” analytics, algorithms and workflows, and the latest in Graph Database technologies. This much is certain, no matter what you do later in life, the future belongs to those who know how to deal with all that data.

Neuroscience of Vision – Waiting list only, course currently full

You see with your eyes, right? Well, that’s partly true. Vision begins with the eyes, but everything you see happens in the brain. In this lab, you’ll have the chance to investigate the psychological and neurological tools and methods experts use (e.g. MRI) to study vision. You will explore how your eyes take in information, how your brain tries to make sense of it, different ways your eyes can be “tricked,” and how eye malfunction and/or brain damage can change perception. This experience will give you a greater understanding of psychology and neuroscience, expert research tools, and how the neurological and visual systems interact to create what you see—or rather think you see—in the world around you.

Risk Analysis – Waiting list only, course currently full

Decision making is an integral part of life. Our minds are flooded with a constant stream of information, and we have to make choices about that information—some minor and quick, others major and requiring a lot of attention. This class will introduce you to the “science” of decision. Quantitative risk analysis brings probability and statistics into everyday life. Through hands-on problems, you will gain experience with methods professionals use to make sound decisions in everything from investing and finance to baseball. We will explore the triumphs and pitfalls of using available data to predict events that involve chance. Most importantly we will join the quest to explain the complex world in which we live.

Materials Science and Engineering – Waiting list only, course currently full

People used to have to rely upon nature for all the materials they used in everyday life—for everything from tanks to toothbrushes. Now, when scientists need something, they make it. Materials scientists manipulate molecules to create the materials that are used in the world’s most advanced and sophisticated technologies. In this lab, you will engage in hands-on activities, case studies, and demonstrations to investigate the relationships between the structures and properties of materials on atomic, microscopic, and macroscopic scales. You will learn a bit more about how materials are designed with properties tailored to specific applications. By the end of this experience, you will see how, when it comes to engineering today, some of the biggest advances in technology are…well, small.

Grades 9-10

Bioarchaeology  – Waiting list only, course currently full

Bioarchaeologists study human skeletal remains to “re-populate” the past with real individuals in order to answer larger questions about humanity—like why and how empires grow, how violence starts and spread, and even periods of feast and famine. In this lab, you will work in the Vanderbilt Human Osteology lab (with actual human bones) to explore methods that researchers use to discover age and sex, illness, trauma, and even diet of past individuals. This class will teach you to think a little bit more like a bioarchaeologist so that, when other people just see bones, you will see a story.

Rhetoric and Writing in a Digital Age – Limited availability

Rhetoric—the ancient art of persuasion. Rhetoricians used to practice their skills in public squares, and later books. Now, rhetoric happens in a digital world—without paper as your audience sits behind a computer screen. How does that work? This writing lab aims to get at that question by giving you a glimpse into the work of a non-fiction writer in the twenty-first century. You will learn more about how to generate ideas, research sources, and construct a good argument that employs persuasive language in this digital age. As you construct a small essay throughout the day, we will consider the nature of effective rhetoric and writing, discussing a whole host of possibilities and outlets for digital publication as well as strategies for excelling within a digital framework.

Microbiology Protein Research – Waiting list only, course currently full

Proteins! That is the “language” of bacteria. It is how they interact with your body, with each other, and with the medicines and other compounds research scientists seek to develop. In this lab, you will get up close and personal—really close—with the Helicobacter pylori (the bacteria that cause ulcers) and some of the chemicals it secretes to attack your body. You will gain experience using common laboratory methods, such as VacA Purification and coomassie gel staining. You’ll try your hand at an accelerated scientific research project and presentation using publicly available scientific databases. And by day’s end, this new “protein language” might be one that you speak.