Science Courses to Take Before You Graduate
With the memory of exams growing fainter and fainter as it is replaced by the reality of the summer sun and relaxation, course scheduling may be the last thing on your mind. However, the stress-less months of summer are the perfect time to get a head start on your pre-term planning. Whether you’re looking for concentration courses or great electives, there are tons of wonderful science classes to browse through. To help you in the right direction, our staff writer, Shaira, did some investigating and put together a list of courses to add to your shopping lists. So open up that awesome new CS50 Course Planning Tool and read on for some WISE Words of wisdom!
By Shaira Bhanji
Newton’s commonly known third law of motion states, “for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction” (Newton). Let’s put this concept to work in the context of Harvard: you bravely choose to take a science class. How can you minimize the possibility of having a negative reaction? Well, worry not; a few brave pioneers have done half the work for you so that you can predict nature before it happens. Take a look at what some Harvard students and others are calling the science classes you must take before you graduate.
1. Science of the Physical Universe 27: Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to Soft Matter Science
If you ever saw the immense line outside Science Center C on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that this course is number one on the list. What The Boston Globe called “the hottest course at Harvard this fall” was also cited by Fox News and other sources as an extraordinary class. What’s all the hype about? Much like how Hogwarts uses magic to teach students how to make potions, SPU 27 uses science to teach students how to make food—successfully. Renowned chefs combined with Harvard professors create a savory class no one can resist. Feeling hungry? You’ll have to be lucky enough to win the lottery to check out this one.
2. Computer Science 50: Introduction to Computer Science I
Okay, so you may not be the next Mark Zuckerberg. Don’t let that thought stop you from taking this class. CS 50 can introduce you to computer science in a user-friendly environment. Kenny Yu ’14 says, “Most people in the course don't have any programming experience, but by the end we were all making websites.” In 2009, the Q Guide score for the course overall was 4.4/5. Yu adds, “What I really liked about it was the practical skills I gained from the course—making websites, programming skills—but also the experience and tools it provides me so that I can start learning stuff on my own.” Correction: You’re not the next Mark Zuckerberg…yet.
3. Neurobiology 95hfu: Building a Brain
If the name of this new course doesn’t grab your attention, consider the insanely high Q Guide scores. The course overall scored a 4.86/5—now that’s impressive. Furthermore, 100% of the 7 (out of 9) students who evaluated the course would “recommend [it] with enthusiasm” (to use the Q Guide’s terminology). Even for such a small class size, such a high satisfaction rate is commendable. What’s all the fuss about? Quite simply (though not simple at all), the class deals with how the brain works—which could be pretty useful considering we are, you know, human.
4. MCB 176: Biochemistry of Membranes
You might expect to see “loving membranes” listed under the prerequisites for this class. But what if the instructor himself has enough enthusiasm for membranes to share some with you? As of fall 2010, the Q Guide gives Professor Guido Guidotti nearly 4.5 stars (4.42/5 to be exact). As one student put it, “he's as awesome as his name is.” Furthermore, students on the Q Guide have reviewed the class as useful, rather enjoyable, and relatively painless—not qualities people always expect from an MCB course.
5. Physics 15a: Introductory Mechanics and Relativity You have to take a physics course but don’t know which one to take. 11a: Mechanics or 15a—which one is the right choice? 15a might be more difficult, but no pain, no gain, right? No, you’re not a masochist, and yes, 15a is worth the work. Take it from Osman Shawkat ’11 (a chemistry and physics concentrator), who affirms, “it is a challenging class but well worth it. You are forced to move away from plugging into random equations or memorizing things and instead have to actually understand and model physical behavior.” Let the Q Guide scores speak for themselves. Put your motion equations to better work (no pun intended): take 15a.
Have other courses you think our Scientista readers should take? Leave a comment below!
About the Author
Harvard College 2014
Shaira hopes to concentrate in Environmental Science and Public Policy with a secondary in Global Health and Health Policy. She is a debater in the Harvard Speech and Parliamentary Debate Society but also enjoys reading, walks along the Charles (or did, before it got cold), and playing her violin. Her science experience includes research internships at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as well as at City of Hope National Medical Center. She has written for her high school newspaper, The Flintridge Press, as well as for the Ismaili Magazine USA. She has also done scientific writing during her time at City of Hope and has fond memories writing countless debate speeches as a Varsity high school debater.