Science and Cooking Labs

Pia Sörensen details how the Science of Cooking class conducts lab assignments through actual cooking experiences. For this example, she navigates through the Molten Chocolate Cake Lab/Heat Lab, but also attached three other examples for more resources. This experiment is supposed to help students understand the concepts of science and cooking in a practical setting by actually cooking or baking with the scientific tools and knowledge acquired through class.

Theme and Variations: Understanding Musical Style

The activity took place as part of an ongoing unit on various forms in Classical music, and also contributed to a larger, semester-long conversation about the ways in which we deal with the nebulous concept of "style" in music. Coming into the class itself, students possessed a basic knowledge of musical rudiments such as melody and harmony. For the activity itself, students had already been introduced to the idea of "Theme and Variations" form, and had listened to several examples.

Floor Plan

This is an activity for Lioudmila Zaitseva's Elementary Russian class. She goes through a floor plan illustration on the board and calls on volunteers to label the parts, then place a corresponding image in the specific zone of the plan. This is a fun way for students to remember their vocabulary, basic verbs, and basically conduct a general review.

Life Class - How to Become a Sage

Students prepared for this assignment by reading the week’s reading assignment about the Chinese philosopher Xunzi in the class textbook. The instructor acted as Oprah Winfrey, introducing a new Life Class entitled, “How to Become a Sage.” She introduced the four guest Life Coaches—four of the Chinese philosophers discussed in class: Confucius, Xunzi, Zhuangzi, and Mencius. 

Wave Dispersion and Mathematica

Elizabeth Petrik, a graduate teaching fellow for Physics 15c, created this Mathematica activity to help students build physical and quantitative intuition about wave dispersion. The usage of Mathematica in this activity allows for students to not only solidify the concepts they learned in class, but also create a working program that helps them understand wave dispersion in another medium.

HMS/BWH Case Study

For her sixth section, Kirstin Woody Scott prepared this activity based off of the HMS/BWH case study on Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee and tuberculosis. This activity allowed students to discuss and present the knowledge of the case they had reviewed in lecture and tackle policy realities in global health. Students prepared oral arguments to take on the role of different stakeholders and defend their positions when faced with cuts to global health funding.

Cells vs. Buildings

Created by Kostia Bergman, Erin Cram, Wendy Smith, Scott Dobrin, Presque Isle, and Judith Roe, this lesson for an intermediate Cell Biology course encourages students to take a big-picture view of the cell by comparing cells to buildings in order to think about the dynamic processes within cells. The lesson utilizes a jigsaw and quick write.

Open Review Discussion

Students used a platform called Open Review (, developed by the members of the Harvard physics department, which is a PDF annotation tool that is tailored to discuss scientific publications openly. Every week, students read two publications related to research in the Harvard Physics Department and used Open Review to discuss them online and learn about the academic research.

Costa Rican Specimen Scavenger Hunt

Students embarked on this lab-based activity to help understand the species of Costa Rica. Graduate Student Teaching Fellow Alexis Harrison created this activity for her OEB 167 class to allow students to see and interact with preserved specimens from the Museum of Comparative Zoology, so they can further understand the types of animals they will see on their spring break trip to Costa Rica.

Paper Presentations and Discussions

In OEB 119: Deep Sea Biology, groups of students have to present and lead discussions on scientific papers throughout the semester. Before class each week, all students have to read an assigned scientific paper and post a summary paragraph and two questions to an online forum. A group of students has to prepare a short presentation about one part of the paper, so that each paper is presented by a different group of three to four students each week.