Stanford Splash is a really cool event that takes place in Stanford two weekends a year. Open to all students in grades 7 to 12, it offers many classes taught by volunteers, usually Stanford students, on very diverse topics that they are enthusiastic about.
Doing physics with Superman
I taught a class there for the first time in fall 2013. Called “Doing physics with Superman”, this 1:45 lecture aimed at introducing students to the scientific method by applying it to superheroes. We considered the problems that they would face if they followed real world physics and tried to find see what their powers told about them. The content, as well as many illustrations that I used during my presentation, were inspired by Roland Lehoucq's book D'ou viennent les pouvoirs de Superman (currently in French only, sorry !). Credit goes to him, who made this class possible and who was a very motivating and inspiring support during our exchanges.
You can download the presentation in Powerpoint format or as a lighter PDF (without the animations and videos):
It was a really enjoyable and stimulating time with these young students and I'm eager to reiterate the experience!
What makes a game fun
I created a new class for the Spring 2014 edition, “What makes a game fun”. On a shorter format (45 minutes), it introduced students to the concept of game design. My motivation was to give them the tools that would help them analyze why some games are more fun to play than others and thus giving them more perspective on their gaming experiences. The content I presented came from various backgrounds, mostly from books or online articles written by experienced game designers. I tried to illustrate my points with many examples coming from video games, old as well as new ones, fun as well as frustrating ones, and from different genres. The emphasis was made on concepts that do not depend of the kind of game but that are common to many fun and successful games (rewards, gameplay loops, etc.)
The presentation is available here in Powerpoint format or as a lighter PDF. Only the Powerpoint version contains the hyperlinks to the content shown in the class. You can access them by clicking on the corresponding images in presentation mode:
This class was very successful since in total, around 190 students (out of the 2000 involved in Splash that year) registered for it.