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MIT student blogger Shannon M. '12

Science, Technology, and Elephants. by Shannon M. '12

In which I take the best field trip ever.

Every year, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus comes to town and parks their train right behind Simmons. This is one of those well-known campus-wide facts that everyone looks forward to but isn’t really something that’s mentioned as an MIT selling point. Like, “come to the best engineering school in the world—we have a circus live behind our campus for a week every fall!”

This all being said, I should clarify: it’s not really the circus hosting that we look forward to. It’s the elephants. Specifically, the walking of the elephants from the train tracks behind Simmons down Massachusetts Avenue, straight in front of MIT, then down Memorial Drive in front of Killian Court on their way to the TD Gardens where the circus is actually held.

Rose ’14, a Simmons resident, has been excited about the coming of the elephants for over a month. So excited, in fact, that I came home after class last Friday to this lovely mural on my whiteboard.

I have a confession to make: I’ve never actually seen the elephants. I don’t think I even knew it was going on my freshman year and I had an exam or something equally unskippable last year. But this year, my schedule promised to accommodate the elephants perfectly: I was booked to be in my Science, Technology, and Society (STS) class from 1-2:30, at which point my friend Alex ’13 and I planned on booking it out of our class so we could catch the elephants walking down Mem Drive.

Until we got this text around 1:30. “The circus is here!!!!!!!”

I wish I had had a legit camera on me, because Alex’s face looked like someone had just told her that Santa not only didn’t exist, but that it was actually Dad stuck in the chimney. Our awesome professor, Ros, had been talking about how excited she was about the elephants, too, to the point where she had asked the construction workers outside our window to let us know if they came early, and consequently noticed Alex’s expression’s sudden shift from oh-the-transition-from-the-Neolithic-to-the-Holocene-is-indeed-the-most-interesting-thing-I’ve-thought-about-all-day to the-world-as-I-know-it-is-crumbling-around-me. After our explaining that we were about to miss the elephants as tipped off by a knowledgeable source stationed at Vassar and Mass Ave,

Ros packed up her laptop and told us to move from our room in building 2, quickly, lest we miss the elephants.

Alex ’13: “Frances. FRANCES. Did we miss them?”

We have an eclectic class. Ros, all packed up and ready for the elephants as Alex tries to get some front shots of the elephants.

Oh hey, don’t mind me, I’m just an elephant strollin’ down Mem Drive, holdin’ my buddy’s tail.

Elephant, elephant, elephant,

not elephant.

And then we headed back inside to discuss the extinction of large mammals and animal domestication during the early Holocene. Best relevant field trip ever? I think so.

8 responses to “Science, Technology, and Elephants.”

  1. ALEX '13 says:


    Such a good break from classes!!!

    Come to MIT, we have elephants.

  2. Nsherv says:

    Hi, may I ask you what do you study there?

  3. Jen '13 says:

    I love you guys!

    …wish I had seen the elephants :(

  4. Elli '11 says:

    wait what class is that??

  5. erin says:

    This is awesome!!! Thank you for the pictures! I have lived in Boston and have NEVER seen the elephants myself. The horses are cool too grin

  6. varsha '14 says:

    Frances. FRANCES!!

  7. Frances '13 says:

    Shannon this is an awesome blog. I’m so glad you and Alex got to see them!

  8. Ali says:

    can you help me to Register in the MIT ?

    BS Mechanical Engineering from Iran

    my mail:
    [email protected]