Cluster 5 -- Computers in Biophysics & Robotics

Core Courses (4 Weeks Each)

Random Walks From Physics to Biology

We know that everything, living or non-living, is made out of molecules. Molecules are random walkers that keep bumping into each other and changing their trajectory, shape and even their chemical identity. How, then, does a collection of such random walkers assemble into incredibly organized and precise molecular machines that make a living system function? In this course we will learn how to describe random walkers using probability theory and primarily computer simulations. Students will learn and use subsets of the C and Python programming languages to simulate the behavior of biological molecules inside a living cell.

Computer Science - Introduction to Robotics

This course is an informal introduction to computer science and robotics using Lego MindStorm™ robots. The course teaches the basics of the C programming language, combined with the mechanical aspects of building a robot such as building bumpers and feelers, playing sounds, locomotion, gears, pulleys, and communication. A brief history of computers and programming will be given. Since programs for the robot are written on a personal computer and then downloaded to the robot via USB, students will also learn the basics of an operating system.

During the last two weeks of the program, students will design their own robot as a final project. Projects can be either individual or a done in a group. Creativity, perseverance and teamwork in designing, construction and programming are the main themes of the cluster. The course is designed with an emphasis on building solid self-learning habits and styles. Students will write a daily journal online and will give two group presentations during the program.