Integral to the process of learning to think is the opportunity to do. The doing of Thinking Matters involves a range of activities, from in-class simulations to exploring Stanford's own labs and museums, to student-created projects.
Winners, Creative Project Awards for the Thinking Matters Requirement
Established for projects starting Academic Year 2019-20, the award is offered to projects which demonstrate learning through creativity, and the projects are characterized by intellectual rigor, an original use of form, strong synthesis of the course content, and overall quality. Learn more and nominate your students here.
Sean Bai, Nicolas Alejandro Garcia, Kiran Ruiye Majeti, "Every Scene A Sketch: The Piano in a Factory," WQ20
Nomination by Nicole Martin, Thinking Matters Fellow, THINK 55: Understanding China Through Film
"What made Kiran, Nicolas, and Sean’s project stand out was the way their chosen form, a humorous video essay, modeled the very concept--absurdity--that they were investigating in their analysis. They chose to focus on a film that stood out to them the most, The Piano in the Factory, in order to explore how the aesthetic of absurdity is necessary to understand modern China. To accomplish this, they removed much of the absurdity in the film to demonstrate how the film’s message falls flat in the absence of its absurdist elements. With impressive editing skills, they interspersed their altered footage (removing sound and music, the very elements the absurdity hinges on), with engaging and humorous analysis built on difficult ideas from course texts. As a whole, their essay challenged an argument made by cultural critic Rey Chow about the lack of resistance in Chinese culture by showing the important role humor has played as an agent of sisyphean resistance from a soon to be forgotten working class."
Maximus Aldo Di Perna, Nicole Jehl, and Arnold Kimutai Langat, "Unheard Voices," WQ20
Nomination by Lupita Ruiz-Jones, Thinking Matters Fellow, THINK 61: Living with Viruses
"This podcast tells a compelling, interesting, and analytical story about the Zika virus. The students worked together very effectively to craft a narrative arc that keeps the listener engaged. Their story is founded in evidence and raises important questions about the current situation we are facing with the coronavirus. The podcast was creatively scored, resulting in one feeling different emotions throughout the story. All three students engage with each other in the podcast as they educate us."
Elias Aceves, "Ofrenda," FQ19
Nomination by Jonathan Tang, Thinking Matters Fellow, THINK 60: American Enemies
"This student project was conceptually innovative, engaging with course materials and ideas in an original and compelling manner. Elias created an 'ofrenda,' a traditional Mexican altar commemorating the family dead... His ofrenda, like most, was mainly comprised of family photos. He then covered the altar with transparent cellophane that was graffitied over with insults, slurs, and other ethnicity-specific derogatory phrases that Latinx peoples have faced. In our current political climate, Latinx peoples in America have been unfairly demonized and stereotyped, becoming the "American Enemies" that the course was designed to critically examine. Elias, being of Latinx heritage, designed his creative project to highlight and challenge the way in which this has occurred. By incorporating aspects of performance art and calling his audience to literally deconstruct the negative slurs associated with this group and cut away the cellophane, Elias asks us to recognize our own complicity in creating these stereotypes and participate in the process of revealing the core humanity beneath."
Bea Phi, "Letters to Ancestors" poems, FQ19
Nomination by Nicole Martin, Thinking Matters Fellow, THINK 60: American Enemies
"Students were tasked with making an argument that countered, challenged, or complicated a simplistic narrative of war. Bea deftly captured the spirit of this prompt by asking the question: What happens when the dead aren’t given a memorial? In particular, he thought about the millions, both civilians and soldiers, who died in Vietnam and who never received a memorial akin to the one dedicated to American soldiers in D.C. Instead, as one of our course texts pointed out, they wander the earth as ghosts. Bea, as a descendant of refugees and immigrants from Vietnam, decided to use the final project to fulfill an obligation he believed he owed to the millions of dead. The result is a thoughtful, complex, and poignant series of poems that, in Bea's words, 'engage a long-overdue dialogue with my ancestors in order to honor them in death' by giving them 'a proper burial through the funeral rites that they were never given.' What makes the poems especially impressive is how many course texts and themes Bea subtly weaves together, from the idea that only art can transcend the national through imagination to the exposure of the banality of war."
Student Project Archive
Worlds of Sound
For my final project titled "Racket Rhythm", I composed a sound object only using sounds from the sport of tennis. By learning the editing tools and technology from Garage Band, I became interested in the idea of making my piece a narrative/journey through a tennis match and the various listening modes. I began with introducing a beat with the sound of a bouncing ball. I then introduced the other sounds of tennis such as feet squeaking, chair umpires talking, players grunting, and the crowd cheering. Then, by rearranging and mixing these sounds in a pattern, I was able to shift my listening from thinking about the sources of the sound to the musical properties of the sound. The project helped me analyze the similarities and differences in listening to where the sound came from, the physical properties of the sound, and the memory associated with the sound.
My name is Kento Perera and I am a freshman. I went to San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara. I am on the varsity tennis team and my major is undeclared. I am interested in computer science as well as finance and business. Outside of academics and tennis, I enjoy watching movies, playing piano, traveling, learning Japanese, hiking, and playing other sports with friends.
I chose to take Worlds of Sound because it was a good balance with my other classes that were STEM oriented. It seemed interesting to me because I had never analyzed the concept of sound on a deeper level. I thought this class was applicable to everyday life and help me hear/think about things from a different perspective.
This project is created by sampling “non-lexical communicative sounds” — sounds we make that aren’t words but convey meaning. The song does not contain any software instruments — only samples of such sounds that a few of my peers agreed to have me record and manipulate. The sounds were intentionally mediated to varying degrees to express their semantic meaning or simply due to the timbre of the sample. They were also grouped by their emotional context — happy, sad, doubtful, etc. — and each section of the song uses a particular group of these sounds. Through these manipulations, this project seeks to explore how not being able to see the original source of the sounds affects the listening experience, how these communicative sounds contribute to our sonic memory, and the effect of mediation on them and whether semantic meaning can persevere through such mediation. .
Yutong Sun is a member of the Class of 2021 and is interested in studying Mathematical and Computational Sciences. Ever since she was little, Yutong has loved listening to and playing all kinds of music, from alternative rock to electronic house. She recently discovered the world of electronic music-making and has since been working on several personal projects playing around with different Digital Audio Workstations. She is also a proud member of Cardinal Calypso, Stanford’s premier steel pan band.