CURIOUS CARDINALS TEACHER
William Wen is a first-year medical student studying at Johns Hopkins. In 2020, he graduated from Hopkins with a B.S. degree in Molecular & Cellular Biology as well as a minor in Psychology. While medicine is William’s ultimate career interest, he is also very passionate about the creative arts. Having played the piano for over 10 years, William uses his music theory knowledge to produce extensively in Ableton. In addition, William is extensively immersed in the animation scene and deeply interested in Japanese animation.
アニメ！An Exploration of Anime!
Chances are you’ve heard of names such as Attack on Titan, Spirited Away, Pokemon, etc. at some point in your life. These anime giants have captured the attention of millions through their unique art-styles, story-lines, and character development. But what exactly makes animation, “anime”? This course will explore the art of Japanese animation and will culminate in students designing their own anime protagonist for their capstone project. Along the way, we will break down the concept of animation by creating our own flip-books. We will cover components of character design, story boarding, and voice acting. We will also discuss the history of anime and its progression through iconic pieces such as Akira (1988), Pokemon (1996), Demon Slayer (2021), etc. Finally, you will have the opportunity to learn a few introductory Japanese phrases from popular anime. No art background or prior knowledge of anime is required – only your curiosity in the art of Japanese animation!
For the final capstone project of this course, students will design their own anime protagonist; this will include a visual character design sheet as well as a 1 paragraph backstory. Students will be encouraged to present their character to the group at the end of the course. The purpose of アニメ! is to expose students to the process of anime creation and character design. Students should leave the course with a better understanding of the animation industry, its history, and its cultural impact. They should also better understand how to create a personable, cohesive, and fleshed out character.
What's on Your Mind?
“I think, therefore I am”. Although Descartes published his analysis of the human consciousness more than 400 years ago, we are not much closer in understanding the mechanisms behind this extraordinary phenomenon. How exactly does the brain create consciousness? How am I able to think? In this course, we will trace the progression of cognition research, exploring major theories such as the homunculus argument, the computational theory of mind, and many more. In order to better understand the parallels between our mind and computers, we will learn about and create our own versions of the Turing machine. In another session, we will conduct a virtual dissection of a sheep brain to better understand the physical anatomy of this mysterious organ. At the end of the course, students will complete their capstone project: a debate regarding the origin and mechanism of the mind.
For the final capstone project of What’s on Your Mind?, students will prepare for a debate on two topics: (1) Is our mind simply a computer? (2) Are we programmed to think a specific way or do we have free will over our thoughts? Students should leave this course with a better understanding of the current state of cognition research and should develop their own theories about the mechanism of consciousness/thoughts.
Numerous studies have found strong evidence suggesting that music has the power to promote physical and mental health; listening to music not only reduces stress and depression but also elevates self-esteem, stimulates memories, and promotes heart health. The intersection between health and music is fascinating! Similarly, creating music opens a whole new world for people to express themselves in a healthy way. This course aims to educate students about the health science behind music through interactive discussions. Additionally, students will explore an introduction to music theory (i.e. chord progressions, keys, ways to write catchy lyrics, etc.). Ultimately, students will use the skills that they’ve learned to create their own piece of music. Activities such as popcorn-style lyrical cyphers and “music to oddly specific moods” will help students practice for their capstone project. At the end of the course, students will be asked to perform their song or explain their lyrics (similar to the Genius concept). I will offer to mix any recorded lyrics that students send me, and hopefully they will leave the course with a song that they can call their own. The purpose of Musically Healthy! is to empower students to express themselves in a creative and healthy way.
Students will write and perform/explain their original song for their capstone project. The 3 skills that I want students to leave with from this course are 1) to articulate how music impacts them physically/mentally, 2) to creatively express themselves by writing their own song, and 3) to identify future healthy applications of music in their lives.