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MIT student blogger Snively '11

The Holy Grail of Classes by Snively '11

Think of the coolest class you can. Then think of one that's a million times cooler. My class is ten notches cooler than that!

Yesterday marked the beginning of classes, but today marked my first day of real classes. That’s because I got uber lucky and only have one class on Tuesday (a math recitation at 1 o’clock for an hour). I anticipated it being difficult to get back into the swing of things but was quickly surprised by my classes today.

First off, before I get too far ahead of myself, why don’t I tell you what I’m taking?

18.03 — 12 units
8.02 — 12 units
2.001 — 12 units
MAS.111 — 6 units
2.00b — 9 units

Why was I surprised by my classes? Let’s start with 18.03, Differential Equations. It’s too early to tell exactly how manageable this class will be, but the professor seems to know what he’s doing and the material so far has been over stuff I’m familiar with (vectors). Actually, if you make it past first semester of freshmen year without being comfortable with vectors then you did something wrong.

8.02 is my E&M physics class. I, um, extremely dislike physics. Oddly enough, however, 8.02 today was quite enjoyable. Again, it was all about vectors, and I can do those. Our professor seems to be amazing, he even walked around before class started and introduced himself to everybody. He’s young enough to be energetic but old enough to know what he’s doing, a rare combination. I think I’ll be able to survive 9 o’clock TEAL this semester, believe it or not.

2.001 titled “Mechanics and Materials I,” is my first class that’s part of my major. I’m not actually allowed to declare yet, but I can take this class. From what I gather, it has a lot to do with internal forces of materials (twisting, bending, torque) instead of your typical translational motion from basic mechanics. Although it’s physics (remember, I dislike physics) the professor seems very good and I am willing to practice physics. I used to avoid it like the plague, so being willing to practice it is a huge first step.

MAS.111 is my HASS (Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences) class and a continuation of the one I took last semester, MAS.110. It’s through the Media Lab (home of the OLPC) and its description states that it is

Intended for students pursuing research projects at the Media Laboratory. Topics include Media Lab research areas; documenting research progress; ethical issues in research; patents, copyrights, intellectual property; and giving oral, written, and online presentations of results. A final oral presentation is required. Enrollment limited with preference given to students in the Media Arts and Sciences freshman program.

I’ve saved the best for last. Why is this post called “The Holy Grail of Classes”? Because I’ve done it, I have found the MIT Course Catalogue Holy Grail! 2.00b, otherwise known as “Toy Design.”

That’s right, MIT has a Toy Design class that requires no prerequisites, encourages freshmen, and is part of course 2. Did I mention that it also counts for CI-H? This makes it the best class in the world by itself, but I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet.

I got to class about 10 minutes early today (I’m a tool, I’m sorry, I was excited!) and there was a crowd gathered out front. We all excitedly discussed our new toy class, not knowing what to expect. Standing near us was a group of what looked like teaching assistants or professors, all wearing this:

MIT TOY LAB lab coats. If these aren’t a hot ticket item then I’m not sure what could be. In the words of Veruca Salt, “I want one noooooooow!” More and more lab coats showed up as we got closer to class starting and then all of a sudden they all went into the classroom and locked us out. We weren’t allowed in until they were ready. 10 minutes later the doors opened and we started flooding in. We were met by tables covered with brown paper, a line of lab-coat clad TAs, and happy kid’s music playing the background. We all laughed and talked excitedly about everything that we saw and speculated about what might happen during lecture. Soon it was time for lecture to start so we all hushed and listened in.

The idea behind Toy Design is to work in teams of 5 or 6 to explore the design process. We begin by learning what makes a toy a toy, what makes the fun, how to play, about different types of plastic, visual appeal, and creativity. Through all of this we design, plan, and construct a toy of our own. We have access to MIT’s machine shops, injection molding machines, and tons of other facilities. By the end of the semester we will have a completed prototype, packaging, and various ways of presenting and explaining the toy. We present our toys during the Playsentations at the end of the semester. Toy companies explore our Playsentations and will often pursue marketing the toys that are designed.

Isn’t that awesome?! That’s not all though! Today we talked about the definition of a toy, a product, and a design. This is our professor demonstrating how something doesn’t need to be colorful or plastic to be a toy.

“If I were to wear this cardboard box on my head and use it as a mask, it would be a toy. If however, I used it to rob a bank [holds up NERF gun he designed]

then it would no longer be a toy.”

Mmm-hmmmm, aaaaah, I see! Oh My God I Love This Class!

The next slide then popped onto the projector.

“Clear your calendar for next week everybody, we’re taking a field trip. We’re going to Rhode Island to tour the Hasbro toy factory!”

This is when I almost lost it. This is when I realized that this was the most amazing class I’d ever seen, ever! EVER!!!! EEEEVVVVVAAAAARRRRR!!!!

“But Snively!” asks the hypothetical pessimistic prefrosh blog reader, “There has to be some un-fun aspect of it! Doesn’t it have required reading or anything? Don’t you have to write essays or something?”

Required reading? Absolutely!

Writing essays? Not really (apart from one toy design contest that we can enter halfway through). The only real writing we’re responsible for is a sketch book full of ideas that’s due at the end of the semester.

One of the last slides he showed us dealt with life after toy class.

Playsentations I’ve already talked about. The meeting with the vice president of Hasbro happens if you have a toy that tickles their fancy. They usually pick 2ish every year to pursue. The AIJU toy competition is the one that needs the essay, and service grants are available if your toy shows enough promise to be marketed and you need help on the startup. That’s right, MIT helps pay to get your toy marketed.

By this point we’re all reeling. Could all of this be real? Seriously!? There had to be a catch! Turns out there was, or at least we thought there was. Our professor announced, much to our displeasure, that we would be doing an in-class assignment for the rest of class. These are never good. Remember how there was paper on all of the tables? The following slide popped up on the projector:


I started with the elbow technique. This was good for big shapes but tended to be too messy for the finer details. When I say messy, I mean my area ended up looking like this:

I have other appendages but I wasn’t keen on using them to paint. Maddie ’11 was sitting two spots to my right and, after a lot of persuasive reasoning (if you do it I will!) convinced me to try painting with my nose. Sure, why not?

Hm, red seems like a good color!

I like to get as close to my art as possible, thank you very much!

The two most artistic people at the table, Maddie and I, pose for a “I have paint on my nose” picture

After 10 minutes we were all thoroughly painty and having a great time. We cleaned ourselves up the best we could and waited for any final comments from our professor before we left. We were handed a quick survey before we left which included many of your standard questions like —


But then went on to ask

>Favorite Toy

>Favorite Color

>I found out about Toy Class (circle all that apply)
a) friend
b) poster
c) e-mail
d) magic
e) former toy student
f) other

>Are you familiar with current children’s television/movies?

>Are you familiar with current video games and/or toys?

We all filled out our surveys and left in high spirits, knowing that we had all signed up for the best class ever. *sigh*

$48,000 a year? Totally worth it!

47 responses to “The Holy Grail of Classes”

  1. Andrew says:

    What’s with all the hubbub about being first?

  2. Aditi says:

    lab coats are FUN =)

    Snively, do you guys have to use that logo right through the course? Will it show up on any and all toys you eventually design?
    and yes please post a picture!

  3. Lynn says:

    That sounds awesome! Definitely gonna take this course!

  4. Zach says:

    I wish I were you Snively! That’s awesome!

  5. Hannah says:

    Next year’s survey:

    >I found out about Toy Class (circle all that apply)
    a) friend
    b) poster
    c) e-mail
    d) magic
    e) former toy student
    f) other
    g) Snively’s blog

  6. Snively says:

    I just realized that I have no other good pictures of my logo and I didn’t ever take a picture of Maddie’s. Sorry guys, but mine wasn’t really that special so it’s probably good that I only have one decent picture of it. It’s just an “S” with an “M” and a “J” in the two loops.

  7. donaldGuy says:

    WOW!! I have no interest in declaring 2 but OMG .. for HASS credit, this class sounds like epic win!

    My only fear would be that If design a good toy that down the line it will be marketed and then discovered that kids are somehow hurting themselves with it.. I’d feel bad.

    Anyway .. why hadn’t I heard of this? This is awesome.


  8. Shauna says:

    Nooo now why did u have to let everyone know about this class? Now its gonna be near impossible to get in next year.

  9. Kevin X says:

    Hahaha Shauna that is so true.

    But I’m really glad you mentioned this Snively. All your blog posts have been great about highlighting something special about MIT and this ones the best so far. If I get into MIT I will definitely be looking forward to this class!

  10. Laser says:

    If I get accepted, I am taking that class HANDS DOWN.

    Nice nose painting. I’d have to try the chin though (unless my beard inhibits it).

  11. Lauren says:

    When you said finger paint without using your fingers, the first thing I thought of was using my nose! (I suppose that has something to do with having a friend who often challenges me to playing Mozart on the piano with my nose. I can do so with mild success…)

    In any case… That class looks like so much fun – you should definitely blog about your toy idea when you have one!! I’m not going to be course 2 unless things change drastically over the next few years, but I would even possibly take that class. Thank you for about such an excitingly awesome class!

    Also: to Hannah – putting both Snively’s blog and magic on the survey seems redundant! Obviously Snively’s blog approximately falls under the category of magic tongue laugh Or …maybe magic approximately falls under the category of Snively’s blog? *that certainly would have interesting consequences* grin

  12. Paul says:

    Awesome post, but did we go to the same 18.03 lecture? As I recall, it was all about first-order ODE’s and slope fields, not vectors… wink

  13. @Snively
    What a great post again!

  14. Anonymous says:

    sounds INCREDIBLY fun

  15. Looks like I have to reuse my comment from the last blog:

    *sigh* I wish every school were as awesome as MIT…

  16. Libin Daniel says:

    It is seriously fun!
    Great post, buddy.
    Do let us know the toys you will be making or have made wink

  17. haha i loved this class too! TOYS. CHILDREN. FINGERPAINT. COOL LAB COATS

    trying to work this class in completely messed up my schedule… but it was definitely worth it =)

  18. Manderz says:

    Wow, this is so cool!!! Also, I love your pi shirt. Where did you get it?

  19. Piper says:

    I think we get our logos back, though, so you can take a picture some other time.

  20. Snively says:


    There are two places . . . sells blue ones

    I bought mine at the MIT Museum during a visit my junior year of high school. I actually had my senior picture taken in it, I’ll share it sometime.

  21. Sauza says:

    Hahaha awesome…designing pyramids should be fun too, even if i don’t get to paint with my nose.

  22. Aditi says:


    that IS the coolest class ever!

    i WANT one of those lab coats!

    you could’ve used your toes =)

  23. Rob says:

    This sounds like a MechE dream!

    As a future MechE student (coming to an MIT near you in Fall 2008) I’ve gotta say this class sounds like the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    Maybe better.

  24. Noelle says:

    That seems like an amazingly awesome class.

    And you read my mind exactly with the prefrosh questions, lol.

  25. Oasis says:

    Yeah I echo Paul.

    I was under the impression that I had left Vectors completely behind me in 18.02…smile

  26. Steph says:

    I didn’t know such a thing existed. That is beyond cool! Awesome, awesome, awesome!

    Keep us updated with the progress.

  27. Ankit says:

    MIT has a thing with lab coats doesn’t it??…I remember the mythbusters episode featuring MIT students and prof wearing lab coats the whole day…

  28. Ben says:

    It says you cant use your fringers, so use someone else’s

  29. Shruthi says:

    I wanna go to MIT :D Wow…. That seems like awesome fun… Can you post another pic of your logo? :D And perhaps a pic of Maddie’s logo too :D

  30. Snively says:

    Big Bang Theory is an AMAZING show! It has quite the following here. Favorite part?

    “He’s selling the sword on eBay. . . “
    “Wait, somebody just clicked ‘Buy it Now'”

    If you haven’t seen that episode then I pity you. Also, any show that can get Barenaked Ladies to do the theme song is cool automatically.

  31. carmen says:

    hahahaha…this cannot be possible!! i can just imagine my parents face next year:
    parents: “so what did you learn at mit this semester?”
    me: “i made a toy!”
    parents : “o__0what!!! i paid a fortune for you to officially fool around?!”
    me: “but i made friends with the child in me…”

  32. Collin says:


    Are there any creative cooking classes at MIT?

  33. Anonymous says:

    That’s definitely the best class I heard about, and I’m not even remotely interested in physics!

  34. Shruthi says:

    Lol!! Barenaked Ladies? :D

  35. Tanmay says:

    I never imagined that a vector (Toy)i + (MIT)j existed. Probably the only non-existing one is (ET)i + (MIT)j.(?) wink

  36. Aditi says:

    random question out of nowhere: does anyone watch the ‘big bang theory’?

  37. Libin Daniel says:

    Ya, I do. Yesterday’s episode was hilarious. Princess pancholi, right? Lol..

  38. Libin Daniel says:

    Yup! Very true. Whenever the Indian parents come in its uber cool. What about Aliens in America?

  39. Truman says:

    So you get to take a FIELD TRIP, in COLLEGE, to ANOTHER STATE, to tour a TOY FACTORY. Sometimes I want your life so much, it makes me wanna cry…

  40. Anonymous says:

    if i get in next month, i’m definitely taking this class.
    is it possible to take 15 classes??? *sigh* if only there ws that much time

  41. Hawkins says:

    hahahaha, that’s the first thing I thought of too – “use someone else’s fingers!” =P That class pwns.

  42. Aditi says:

    I need to be pitied. I haven’t seen that one =(

    i LOVED the one that aired this week! (the one in which Sheldon gets drunk)

    the superman one was hilarious too

    I’m going to DIE laughing one of these days watching that show =)

    i watch aliens in america. sometimes.

    Now that we’re discussing shows, what about Heroes? Anyone like that show? =D

  43. nick says:

    In my AP Bio class my teacher was talking about genetic modification and mentioned glow in the dark fish, needless to say the mental image of Sheldon with his luminous fish (In the episode where he is fired) came immediately to mind. I decided if I ever go in academia and get fired I’m making glow in the dark bacon.

  44. Ross says:

    This really makes me want to go to MIT now. What other school has a Toy Making class?!?!

  45. domino rally says:

    2.00b doesn’t give you HASS credit, it gives you CI-H credit, which are different things. But taking humanities is fun wink

    Also you must have Prof Hudson for 8.02; he’s FABULOUS.