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Assistant Professor of Psychology, Steven Neese

17 Days Later: Zombies, Brains, and Basic Neuroscience

What makes a zombie brain tick? Why are zombies always so hungry? Can you escape this class with enough knowledge to survive a zombie apocalypse? The days are numbered…

This course will be a journey into the human brain through the exploration of the behavioral changes seen in classic zombies. By examining pop culture that has influenced researchers to discuss brain science in the context of an “undead world,” students will be introduced to the major functions of the human brain and apply that knowledge to how they could survive a fictional “zombie world.”

Lab and classroom activities will include:

  • exploration of brain structure through dissection of sheep brains
  • establishing learning patterns in flatworms and measuring any saved memory in a “zombie worm”
  • uncovering hidden brain art in not so “neuro-places”
  • viewing Night of the Living Dead (1968) as a critical study of zombie behavior
  • critical analysis of Hollywood zombies through a “neuroscience lens.” What do they get right? Wrong? What could they do better?

What students take away for high school and college work:

  • experience conducting and documenting lab processes and procedures at a college level
  • an understanding of the introductory principles of neuroscience
  • practice incorporating lab work and cultural references to form critical analysis

No prerequisites

Explore psychology at Cornell


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Professor of Biology, Barbara Christie-Pope 

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Professor of Biology, Craig Tepper

DIY Genetic Engineering

How are organisms modified by genetic engineering? What does it mean for the human genome project, cloning (including humans), the production of “designer babies”, individualized medicine, and gene therapy?

In this laboratory course you will be introduced to basic molecular techniques used in a variety of applications ranging from forensic science to addressing current research problems. You’ll solve a hypothetical crime with DNA forensic techniques, generate “fingerprints” of your DNA, and inject glow-in-the-dark genes into zebrafish embryos creating fish that glow.

Labs and activities will allow students to:

  • use creative and analytical thinking skills to solve hypothetical crimes with DNA forensic techniques
  • experiment with gene manipulation on zebrafish
  • discuss widely debated bioethical issues including the human genome project, cloning animals (including humans), individualized medicine, gene therapy, and the production of genetically modified foods

What students take away for high school and college work:

  • an appreciation that recent advances in biology are due to our ever increasing understanding of basic biological processes
  • an understanding of current scientific literature and the moral and ethical implications associated with it
  • experience in designing experiments, generating and interpreting results, and drawing conclusions from data
  • effective oral and written communication of scientific research

No prerequisites

Explore biology at Cornell


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Professor of Physics and Engineering, Derin Sherman

Electronics for Everyone

Have you ever wanted to learn how electronic devices work as well as creating and building your own?

In this course, you'll get to explore the creative side of science through experimentation with, and creation of, simple electronic devices such as radios, electronic musical instruments, and medical monitoring devices. You will read relevant papers and discuss both physical principles and the impact of technology on society. Although prior experience with physics and math is useful, it is not a requirement for this course.

Labs and activities will allow students to:

  • collaborate with the professor and classmates to identify projects of interest for the course
  • translate theory into practice by creating working electronic devices
  • break some electronics in a controlled environment along the way to learn what doesn’t work as well as discovering the science behind the electronics
  • discuss ethical issues of science and technology in the world and how inventions impact society.

What students take away for high school and college work:

  • a working knowledge of how electronic circuits function and how to read and write circuit diagrams
  • an understanding of what role electronics play in society now and the future
  • experience collaborating with others to solve practical problems
  • ideas of how electronics may play a part in future projects or inspire further study.

No prerequisites

Explore physics and engineering at Cornell


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Robert P. Dana Director of the Center for the Literary Arts, Becca Klaver

Poetry and New Media

How do writers keep their work relevant as technology advances? In our visual, tech-saturated culture of viral memes, character count limits, and for better or worse declining attention spans, poetry has been experiencing a surge in popularity.

Poetry is uniquely adaptable to both the possibilities and limits of digital media. In this course, you’ll read poetry that uses the languages of textspeak and emoji and will get inspired by new media projects that take the form of Instagram posts, YouTube spoken word performances, and innovative videopoems. You’ll also gain photo- and video-editing skills as you create your own poetic new media projects.

Activities will allow students to:

  • become early participants in the Instapoetry trend
  • collaborate to create a class multimedia website
  • learn and practice skills in photo and video editing
  • practice presentation skills through gallery shows and screenings of final projects
  • attend and discuss live performances of poetic works.

What students take away for high school and college work:

  • an appreciation for how poetry integrates into new media
  • the ability to think critically about the relationship between literature and media
  • applied experience in using new media poetry as a form of self expression and a body of work that can be included a writing portfolio.

No prerequisites

Explore English and creative writing at Cornell


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Professor of Kinesiology, Justus Hallam

The Science Behind Running

Why do some people enjoy exercise and other people find it miserable? What makes some people love running?

Find out how exercise affects the human body (and mind) in this course. We'll cover topics from muscle physiology and the biomechanics of movement to the physical and emotional benefits of regular exercise. In the gait lab you'll learn how we measure and evaluate movement for running and walking. You don't have to be a regular exerciser to take this course, but a willingness to participate in physical activity will make the class far more enjoyable.

Labs and activities will allow students to:

  • Identify the muscle groups which engage during physical activity and how that impacts your body at the cellular level
  • Measure movement data using exercise physiology equipment and learn how to interpret the results
  • Apply acquired knowledge to a practical analysis of movement on various forms of terrain
  • Discuss how movement affects physical and emotional health and wellness
  • Please note that some lab activities necessitate being closer than 6 feet apart and a metabolic lab involves having a student breathe into an open air exchange mask device while classmates observe. In addition to the testing protocol used for all Summer Institute students, students in this course will also be tested on the morning of such lab activities and only those who test negative will participate.  

What students take away for high school and college work:

  • Advanced knowledge of the mechanics of running and physiology
  • Practical experience using lab equipment to measure and assess physical fitness
  • An understanding of how exercise affects the human body and psyche

No prerequisites

Explore Kinesiology at Cornell

If you're ready to learn One Course At A Time we look forward to welcoming you to the Hilltop this summer.