IAP (Independent Activities Period), MIT's special annual four-week term, runs this year from Jan. 5-30. As in years past, there is a plethora of mini-classes for fun and credit.
For the practical, there is "How to Find a UROP" on Jan. 22, learning how to change a flat tire and jump-start your car on Jan. 15 and 27, "How to Be Photogenic" on Jan. 20, and ongoing sessions on repairing basic laboratory equipment and making wood furniture.
For the environmentally minded, help build a battery vending machine on Jan. 15-16 that will take your used, environmentally dangerous batteries and dispense you a recharged cartridge in exchange.
For the visually oriented, there are many film showings, including the Feynman films for physics buffs, science fiction, and "MIT: Through the Lens," a series of three lunchtime showings of research, lectures and events videotaped by MIT Video Productions.
For those who need to blast things into space, the MIT Rocket Team is meeting weekly.
For the spiritually adventurous, a Jan. 23 introduction to Kyudo, a form of archery used in ancient Japan by Zen Buddhist monks as a way to cultivate meditative awareness on the path to self-realization, sessions on the history and art of the Tarot on Jan. 7, 14, 21 and 28, and the basics of Hinduism on Jan. 30.
For those with an excess of body heat, tips on winter camping and hiking as well as outdoor weekend trips with the MIT Outing Club, are offered throughout the month.
For those who want their own humanoid robot to serve them hand and foot, the MIT Electronic Research Society is sponsoring ongoing sessions on building your own robot. Meeting dates and times are not yet determined.
For foodies, there is the Chocolate Sculpture Workshop on Jan. 26, chocolate truffle-making on Jan. 11 and chocolate tasting on Jan. 8. You can make your own chili on Jan. 22 and 27 and submit it to the Scoville test for hotness, and roll your own sushi on Jan. 27. For those interested in a different sort of eating, a survey of carnivorous plants will be held on Jan. 21, 22 and 23.
Charm School will be offered as usual on the last day of IAP (Jan. 30).
Michael Bergren, assistant dean of academic and research initiatives, notes that this is the last year there will be a printed IAP guide. IAP 2005 will be completely web-based.
To browse through the hundreds of other IAP offerings, go to http://web.mit.edu/iap.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 17, 2003.