Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Final Presentation: The Joys of Randomness

OrganizedKhaos's picture

       For our project we had a lot of debate and discussion about what we felt was important to each one of us throughout the semester as well as the important topics for the group. In addition to that dilemma, we had no idea of how we wanted to present the information. We know it had to be fun and standing up in from of the class going through slides, like we would have done in other classes, was not an option. It was time to be innovative, creative, and go out with a bang.

        Reflecting back on what we learned throughout the semester, we came to find out that it was all a little too much. With a ten minute window and a cast of three we had to figure out something. We brainstormed some major topics that we felt this course emphasized over and over. We came up with a lot of the same ones, but I also realized that having three people helped bring in new ideas some of us may not have thought were as important. After hearing each other out and compiling a list of topics we thought were “the key” to our Evolution and Literature course, we took a second to think… and think… and think… how were we going to present this?

          A game! Ok, what kind of game? We continued to think… then it hit us. We recalled a time when “constructing an evolution course” was the topic of our small group discussion. What was necessary? What should we incorporate? What was an appropriate way to talk to children about randomness?

           So we decided that we were going to take our topics and fit them into a course create our own syllabus of what was important and why. We each had a different view and maybe we should each explain why our syllabus is the way it is compared to the others. But that’s boring.

            We talked a little about how randomness was a very important part of the course. It was in the literature as well as biology section of the class. It was imperative that we incorporate that. With that set we finally came to an agreement and plan for what we were going to do and how we would present our findings to the class.

             The class was going to tell us what we were presenting. Among our major themes included randomness, agency, interpretation, and the difficulty in assigning a single story to evolution. This was the message we wanted to get out and make sure everyone took with them. The ultimate goal is to show how one's own views are never right nor wrong but rather stories are created, changed and made to suit not only the teller but also the audience.

            We placed 10 topics in a basket al folded up. We first had Professor Grobstein and Dalke each choose two numbers between 1 and 34 (estimated number of people in the class). We first wanted to take four volunteers but wanted to add a little more randomness to the mix. Then we had the class count off and whoever were the four numbers previously chosen by Anne and Paul we to choose a topic out of the basket. Among the 10 topics:

 agency, randomness, library of babel, adaptation, Generosity/Plague, memes, "your choice", foundational/emergent/narrative stories, algorithms, science vs humanities

           The ones chosen were “your choice” (student chooses topic), foundational/non-narrative/emergent, Generosity/Plague, and algorithms.


 Random Basket

           From then we went on to tell our own stories from the topic chosen how we interpreted them to the relevance of the course and our lives. I personally chose to organize them, because that’s how I make sense of a lot of the things I do. What I found interesting what that the “your choice” option was a topic (memes) that we had included in our list of important topics which showed that a good number of us left with a similar take away in the course. In addition it we were able to take a situation that most people would be uncomfortable with (randomness) and use our own agency to make it work for us.

           Also something that was very cool about our project was the way in which it evolved up until the minute before we presented. Though we planned  in advance little details were added to make it better. It really relayed to quote Grobstein shared at the beginning of the semester that suggested with every fleeting second in our lives, there's a new person. we are not the same as we were one, two, or three seconds ago. Much like our presentation project.

           It also really showed that everyone’s story is their own and though these “ideas”, “objects”, pieces of work may already exist in the Library of Babel through our own interpretations, agency, and personalities we make it something different for ourselves and the next person. I do believe that within this aspect randomness we are all capable of exercising agency. Though some may believe that there is a path set out for us and an ultimate end I “feel” that we decided which route we take the end. 


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
4 + 2 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.