When we first come into this world, we are endlessly curious about everything, without the self-consciousness we acquire later in life. When we get to school, many of us are told that there is a single right way to answer questions, whether about a poem or the material world. We are discouraged from trying different approaches and all too often we learn that “failing” to get the right answer has negative consequences. Yet, those of us who become (or remain) scientists or mathematicians love to play with concepts and experiments and evidence. We learn that making a wrong turn in our research is not a humiliation but rather a way to gain new insight into a problem. That is, we know that we can continue to learn.
This course is designed for students who have taken science or math classes at Bennington and are seeking to gain more confidence in their abilities to play and improvise in their work; students who feel ready to try out a variety of approaches to problems. In this class, we will play with systems and math and evidence. We will generate hypotheses, collect evidence, analyze the evidence and reassess our hypotheses. We will learn and practice persistence and revision and will use mathematical insights (graphical representations of data, understanding uncertainty, estimation, and some basic statistical ideas) to gain increasing sophistication in our understanding of biological and physical systems.
Registration: See Betsy or Katie in any office hour after the start of 4000-level registration.
**This class can only be taken pass/fail**