Honors Course Examines and Experiments with Evil Genius
(November 26, 2013)
UNC Asheville’s first annual Human Air Hockey Game was held on Friday, October 4, in the scene shop of Belk Theatre, an appropriate setting for the drama of the defense as the 16 students worked in two teams to push their pucks toward guarded goals at each end of the room. Both the puck and goalie sat on hand-made hovercrafts, constructed in a week’s time out of inflatable swim rings, plastic tarps, plywood, and shop vacuums.
“It’s the ingenuity and innovation of it,” said Associate Professor Rob Berls, instructor of the Evil Genius course and referee of the air hockey match. “It’s about creating. We are getting past the idea that ‘I can’t do this,’ to the point that students say ‘I can.’”
To say the honors course is hands-on would be an understatement. Their first project – called the box project – collected assorted items such as a mousetrap, tape, and rubber band into a Chinese take-out box. Students had to construct a kinetic object from the parts, and they could think inside or outside of the box, or destroy the box altogether. Senior Laura Ellis turned her box into a paddle boat, a feat that amazed her classmates and herself.
“I signed up for the class because Professor Berls had inspired me as a freshman in humanities class, but this involves a lot more group work and activity,” said the ecology and evolutionary biology major.
In between the experiments in electronics and chemistry that show the viability of evil genius tech, the interdisciplinary class explores the dark side of genius through history and in film, literature and popular culture.
“What do we want to do is our first question. Then we think about how. The answer to how is yes,” Berls explained.
Next up for their line of questioning and creativity in the dark side: Night vision.
Visit the Honors Program to learn more about the Evil Genius class and additional course offerings.