2020(S08) Lecture:week 2

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Week 2 Tuesday

Challenge: extra credit for extra parts?

Instructions: Last week you tried to understand a tape recorder by considering the components and subcomponents that operate inside it. Today you will demonstrate your understanding of the machine by re-assembling it from those components..."what I cannot create, I do not understand." and all that...Take a careful look at your parts list and your notes from last time. The team that can reassemble their tape recorder from the greatest number of parts will win this challenge. You have 1/2 an hour to work on this task.
At the end of the 1/2 hour we will spend some time tallying the successes of the groups and discussing the exercise in terms of scientific vs engineering efforts.
Before you leave today: Spend 5 minutes to complete your response log entry. In your response, you should note:

  • what the activity was
  • why you think it might have been included in this class
  • if the activity helped you think about:
    • ways to make biology easier to engineer
    • consequences of successfully engineering biology
    • clever ways nature solves physical challenges
    • ways nature innovates
  • if the activity has given you any new tools/considerations that could be useful for your project.

Upload these responses to the lecture response log in the homework dropbox that's here

For next time

Look again at the Adventures in SB as well as the original storyboard that's here. This storyboard was sketched on regular paper by Drew as he was flying from one place to another. You should give some thought to the two chapter script you're working on and think about ways to sketch a storyboard from it. This will prepare you for work in the studio tomorrow. Please print out your script to bring to the studio tomorrow as well as upload the script to your personal design portfolio that's here.

Week 2 Studio

Part 1: WHAP! BAM! Gadzooks!

Begin today by reading the following script and looking at the associated storyboards that are here. Next, think about how to storyboard your script. You do not need any fancy animation tools and there's no extra credit for finishing first or for fancy images. Ideally you'll use no more than 4 sheets of paper to fully sketch your script. Please be sure your name is on all the pieces of paper. You have up to an hour to complete your sketches.

When you have completed your sketches, find a place on the wall to hang your work, and then spend 1/2 an hour walking around the room checking out what others have done.

Part 2: Robbing Peter to pay Paul

In the second part of today's studio, you should consider one of these two articles:

  1. MeatGuzzler, link here pdf here
  2. FeFert, link here pdf here

Both articles deal with costly inefficiencies, indirection, uncertainty, and human needs or desires. For example, land to make grain to feed livestock to feed us. Iron to make microbes to affect CO2 to affect global warming, maybe. Spend ~10 minutes reading one article, then spend ~5 minutes online looking for additional relevant information. Spend the rest of your time discussing the article you read at your table.

As conversation starters, for the MeatGuzzler article, consider the following questions:

  • What are all the steps (i.e., the "six degrees of separation") that are needed to convert natural resources into a consumable commodity?
  • What resources are consumed at each step in the process?
  • Are there hidden or downstream costs that are not well accounted for in the current system?
  • Could biotechnology be used to help address or reduce any of the known or hidden costs?
  • Looking online, can you find any evidence that researchers are already working to grow meat in the lab?
  • What issues or social concerns might arise from lab-grown meat?

For the FeFert article, consider the following questions:

  • Is the level of atmospheric carbon a serious concern?
  • Are humans responsible for increases in atmospheric carbon levels?
  • Could ecological engineering projects help control the levels of carbon (or other elements) in the atmosphere?
  • Would developing a technology for removing carbon from the atmosphere simply encourage humans to consume more? I.e., would it actually help?
  • How does the opportunity to realize a profit impact research?
  • Where should research be allowed? For example, is it OK to conduct research in a lab? In Lobby 10? In the Charles River? In the Atlantic Ocean?
  • Are there competing technologies, not based on biology, that could be considered?

For next time

Read the Department of Energy primer about Switchgrass pdf and then skim the news stories in Nature pdf and the New York Times describing the backlash against plans to grow switchgrass for ethanol, or biofuels more broadly. Write a paragraph describing your ideas on switchgrass for ethanol production. Please upload your paragraph to your personal design portfolio that's here.
Time for completion: <1/2 hour of reading, <1/2 hour of writing.

Week 2 Thursday

Challenge: You decide

There are three topics on today's table: Climate Change, Nanotechnology, and Genetic Testing. Choose one topic of interest to you, find that game table to play "Decide." With a minimum of 4 people (or a maximum of 8 people) you can start to play. Everyone at the table will have

  • one placemat/workboard describing the issue
  • White story cards
  • Green information cards
  • Blue issue cards
  • Red challenge cards
  • Yellow cards to facilitate discussion

Phase 1: set-up

  1. Begin by choosing a reader to read (out loud!) the topic's description that's written in the upper lefthand corner of each placemat.
  2. Choose a different reader for the 4 policy positions that your group will ultimately decide between.
  3. Finally choose a different reader to read out loud the discussion guidelines that are written in the bottom lefthand corner of each placemat.

Phase 2: learning

This phase will require ~30 minutes

  1. Each player should read the white story cards and choose 1 they find most compelling to keep on their placemat.
  2. Each player should read the green information cards and choose 2 they believe are the most significant to the story they've chosen. These cards can also be placed on their placemat.
  3. Each player should read the blue issue cards and choose 2 they believe are the most significant to the story they've chosen. These cards should be placed on their placemat.

Phase 3: discussion

This phase will require ~30 minutes. There are many ways to structure the discussion but you can, as a group, decide

  • if you would like a "free form" discussion in which players may participate in any order and yellow cards can be used to signal frustration with the speaker,

or

  • if you would like a "round table" discussion in which conversation proceeds from player to player around the table and "talk money" can be used to talk out of turn (everyone has two "talk money" chits on their placemats).

Once the ground rules for discussion are set, someone should distribute the red cards, one to each player, face down. Next someone should begin by summarizing their story and the relevant information and issues. Depending on the discussion style you've chosen, you may want to follow up on this starting story or proceed around the table. If conversation slows down or needs some motivating, the challenge cards can be used. By the end of the 30 discussion your group should be able to cluster the stories, issues, and information in some way that makes sense to everyone. This means physically moving the cards for related ideas and positions into piles.

Phase 4: policy position

Everyone will be given a Policy Position ballot in which they can indicate their level of support for each of the four possible positions. The ballots will be collected and tabulated by one member of the group. Look for common ground in your policy positions or develop a response that better represents any consensus reached by discussion. If you would like to upload your group's response to the Play Decide website, the URL is here.

Before you leave today: Spend 5 minutes to complete your response log entry. In your response, you should note:

  • what the activity was
  • why you think it might have been included in this class
  • if the activity helped you think about:
    • ways to make biology easier to engineer
    • consequences of successfully engineering biology
    • clever ways nature solves physical challenges
    • ways nature innovates
  • if the activity has given you any new tools/considerations that could be useful for your project.

Upload these responses to the lecture response log in the homework dropbox that's here

Follow-up homework assignment

Spend an hour thinking about team dynamics and then add your thoughts/responses to the questions below to your lecture response log from Week 2: Thursday.
Team behavior can often be characterized as either

  • "fractured," i.e. one dominant member who pushes viewpoints and decisions, with or without some team members who are a supportive "clique." In fractured teams, you might hear, "yes but..." a lot or see passive agressive behavior where only 1/2 hearted attempts are made.
  • "conflicted," i.e. lots of ideas are generated about how to solve the group's task but no ownership of any one course of direction means less gets done. Conflicted teams are characterized by low energy and/or repeat re-negotiation of the agreed path.
  • "cohesive," i.e. each member feels valued and contributes their best to a well-defined task. Cohesive teams are inclusive in their decision making, show a commitment by each member to complete the task at hand, and conflict is not seen as an unhealthy "win/lose" situation.

Part 1: Think more about your contribution to the team as you played Decide, and evaluate the team dynamics according to these three broad categories. It's likely your team behavior had elements of each.
Part 2: Now for some "double loop learning," a chance for you to think about organizational structure and your place in it. What do you think makes a good team? Answer "mostly yes" or "mostly no" to the following:

  • there is competitiveness
  • everyone sticks closely to the point
  • team members avoid conflict
  • members rotate leadership
  • each team member gives and receives feedback
  • a detailed plan is suggested for each meeting
  • aggression is openly expressed
  • informal subgroups develop
  • members freely express negative feelings
  • the overall goals of the team are explicitly stated
  • information is freely shared among members
  • members feelings are considered when tasks are performed

Choose one "mostly yes" and one "mostly no" response and explain (as best you can) why you answered the way you did. It's fine to draw your answer from personal experiences or conjecture.
Part 3: Think more about the kind of contributions you're likely to make to a team, and the kinds you'd like to be making to a team. Answer "almost never," "sometimes," or "almost always" to the following:

  • I set team direction (vision/strategies/identity/purpose)
  • I innovate (experiment/take risks)
  • I plan (set goals/set schedules/detail milestones)
  • I align people (communicate team goals/serve as role model/build consensus)
  • I broker plans (manage upward/negotiate/use power and politics)
  • I organize (structure/coordinate/staff/delegate)
  • I motivate (inspire/energize)
  • I monitor (appraise status)
  • I mentor (develop other people's capabilities)
Now set some plan for development. Choose one aspect from the list above you'd like to learn or change. Next, think of at least one way to accomplish your objective. You should think about what would provide evidence for accomplishment. Evidence for progress might seem small (e.g. asking a question in class, speaking louder, interrupting less) but make the measures for progress as concrete as possible. There is no right or wrong answer to this series of questions.
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