Thursday, May 14, 2015

How 109 helped with 310

20.310, one of the required Course 20 classes, teaches us about biomechanics on a molecular scale. We learn about molecular models of polymers, how to measure the stress and strain of a sponge, and how cells move around in our bodies. It’s a lecture-based class with tests (“quizzes”) and psets, and so you wouldn’t normally imagine that a class like 20.109 would be relevant to a class like 20.310. But, at the end of 20.310, in addition to another “quiz,” we have a term presentation and paper about a biomechanics topic of our choosing in teams of three. My team consisted of my two close Course 20 friends (who haven’t taken 20.109 yet) and we chose to present on the biomechanics of metastasis.

We had to write an abstract about our proposed topic, and it seemed so much easier after writing all the abstracts for 20.109. As we sifted through scientific literature for more information about our topic, I was not terrified of all the big words and fancy experiments like I was before. Writing concisely about science also did not seem as daunting, making my life a little less stressful while writing that term paper.

The presentations for the class were broken up into two days, and we were slated to go on the second day. After we listened to the first day of presentations, my friend who has already taken 20.109 said to me, "You know, you can really tell who’s taken 109 and who hasn’t by the way they present.” And looking back on that first day of presentations, that could not have been truer. Some of the groups seemed slightly disheveled when presenting—going over time, or not having strong organization. Other groups seemed to have reread their notes on giving presentations, because they had an overview slide, a summary slide, and supplemental slides that actually applied to questions they received.

When it came time for my group to present, I made sure that all of the slides were appropriately titled, and that we rehearsed our transitions. Having gone through journal club presentations made me less nervous about presenting in front of my 310 class, and I’m thankful that I’ve learned so much about scientific presentations. It’s nice to see 109 being applied to my other classes already, and I’m sure that I’ll continue to see it being applied again in the future. 

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