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MIT student blogger Lydia K. '14, MEng '16

Cows, Cheese, and Myristic Acid, Oh My! by Lydia K. '14, MEng '16

(Almost) everything I learned about fat (and educational videos), I learned from 7.S390.

Last summer, when I lived in East Campus and these were my backyard


, my hallway looked like this


, this was my bathroom ceiling, and I ate a lot of these


(notice a pattern?), I also took an experimental, part-edX class called Creating Digital Learning Materials for Biology, 7.S390, through the summer@future program, which allowed me to live in East Campus for free, bond with Ceri R. ‘16, who was also taking 7.S390, and learn how to make educational materials, including educational videos.

At the time, I was thinking a lot about the foods I eat and their effect on my health. Specifically, I was curious about fat, which I simultaneously took pains to avoid (that skim milk) and ate a lot of (that pizza, steak, and cheese) and about which I had gotten many conflicting messages.

Over the summer I read everything I could get my hands on about fat and nutrition and condensed what I learned into a nine-minute educational video. Here’s what I found out:


It might look like I am sketching cows and cheeses live. In fact, I drew them in pencil, traced them in pen, scanned them in Hayden Library, and recorded my screen with Quicktime as I erased them line by line in Photoshop. Then I recorded myself reading my script in 18 pieces selected from 35 takes (turns out reading out loud with consistent enthusiasm is difficult) into a fancy microphone, and painstakingly sped up snippets of the reversed erasing clips to match them up with my speech in (a free trial of) Final Cut Pro, which was the only video editing software I could find that allowed both reversing a video and speeding it up a lot.

Here are my script, the competed sketches, and the eraser I used next to its happier twin:


Some Notes

  1. All that pizza is from Za, an amazing pizza restaurant in Kendall Square that you should all go to if you like pizza (and salad (and salad on your pizza (and other carbs on your carbs))).
  2. You should read Ceri R. ‘16’s (much more timely) blog post about 7.S390, look at her photos of the final presentation, and watch her educational videos, which answer another question you may or may not have pondered before but I bet now need to know the answer to: what color is your blood?
  3. You should also check out MIT+K12 (even if you are K12+), specifically the Science Out Loud series, which Anastassia B. ‘16 made an episode for and which Elizabeth C. ‘13 runs! They make all this look easy (and do amazing, amazing work). Some important questions you can finally have answered: how do computers compute? how do braces work? what about invisibility cloaks? why do we have snot? why do we fart?