Exploring Natural Creativity at the Edgerton Center

EC 050/090 helps students explore their natural creativity in unexpected ways
Sonny Oram

Curiosity is one character trait MIT students share. One Edgerton Center seminar run by instructor Elizabeth Cavicchi, helps students explore their natural creativity in unexpected ways. EC.050/090, “Re-create Experiments From History: Inform the Future from the Past” is open to all undergraduate and graduate students. Using the re-creation of famous historical experiments as a springboard, this course combines history, science, art, indigenous studies, and reflections on personal experiences.

One class activity to spark creativity was the viewing of a global New Years’ card that takes you around the world with different New Year's traditions represented. Students became interested in a Time Wheel shown as the tradition for Hungary, which is described as like an hourglass or egg timer. Never having seen or played with one, they conceived the idea to construct an ultimate timer. This set off an iterative process of discovering the relationship between a hole’s area, and the time it took a constant mass of sand to flow through that hole. “This hands-on experiment is still by far one of the most rewarding experiences to apply my knowledge in order to conduct something I had a general curiosity for, rather than to complete a task assigned to me,” Israel J Sosa '20 commented. “Not many times are students able to use their know-how to do whatever they wish. The heart of this course, however, is just that and highly encouraged.” 

The curriculum evolves through the interests and collaborations of students. “In the midst of the discussion of how important it is to liberate curiosity; my own curiosity has been liberated to some extent,” Student Vira Dhaliwal SM '21 reflected. “I go on from this experience with an increased desire to climb trees, grow plants, look at the stars, and try some painting.” 

Every student took away something different from the seminar. “This class helped me explore the connection and combination of humanity and science, which I feel had been previously divorced in my mind,” Akshay Agarwal SM '16, PD '20, PhD '20, said. “In analyzing and reading about the humanity of explorers through the ages, I rediscovered some of my own.”