Media Technology MSc

Course Material “Playful & Creative Science”

Fall 2019
by Bas Haring and Maarten Lamers

Media Technology MSc program, Leiden University

Doing academic research is a major component and educational goal of the Media Technology MSc program. This course offers a logical continuation of the course "Research Fundamentals". Whereas that course is more about commonplace science practices, "Playful & Creative Science" discusses unconventional, playful ways of doing science. The course is organized along three main steps in the scientific cycle: (i) asking questions; (ii) executing research; and (iii) formulating answers.

The objective of this course is to show how scientists have been playful and creative in those three mentioned steps. To achieve this, the course

  • explains that scientists are less restricted to all kinds of rules, than often thought-and-taught;
  • gives confidence to students to find own ways within science;
  • helps students being playful along the above mentioned three steps in the scientific cycle;
  • shows that scientists (sometimes do) produce other outputs than just scientific articles, and provides numerous inspiring examples of such "other" output.

Class attendance is compulsory and an active in-class attitude is expected of students. Lectures are combined with class discussions, homework assignments, and student presentations.

Richard Feynman

Lecturers: Bas Haring and Maarten Lamers
Teaching assistant: Doroty Márton
Location: room 413, Snellius building
Schedule: see the Media Technology calendar
Level, credits: level 500, 6 EC
Language: English
Requirements: - attendance in all classes
- a good grasp of verbal and written English
- active participation in class
- a completed bachelor degree

For a passing final grade,
(a) the overall grade must be 6 or higher, and
(b) all assignments must be completed 5.5 or higher, and
(c) all classes must have been attended.
Evaluated works include various homework reading tests and a final project.

Communication: Media Technology Forum and Blackboard.
Literature: no book, selected reading materials.
Homework: Homework must be submitted via the course Blackboard page before class on the due date.

Willem Johan Kolff

Tentative Course Schedule

Date Lecture
Homework due Topic
Nov 8 1 - Teacher introduction.
Course introduction & history.
The research cycle.
Unconventional questions.
Nov 15 2 Read [Skinner]
and [Vienken]
Unconventional methods (data)
Nov 22 3 T.b.a. Unconventional methods (ad hoc)
Nov 27,
4 T.b.a. Unconventional output.
Dec 6 5 T.b.a. Unconventional output.
Dec 13 6 T.b.a. Guest lecture.
Jan 17 7 T.b.a. Project presentations


Resources & References

Some of the online resources may only be available from the university network, due to copyright, licensing and subscription restrictions.

[Andraka] Jack Andraka (2013), A Promising Test for Pancreatic Cancer... From a Teenager, TED Talk, February 2013
[Broers] Herman Broers (2008), Dokter Kolff, Kunstenaar in Hart en Nieren (in Dutch), Medisch Contact, December 15 2008
[Bryson] Bill Bryson (2004), A Short History of Nearly Everything, Broadway Publishing (wikipedia)
[Feynman] + Wikipedia entry Richard P. Feynman, slightly mad genius and famous lecturer
  + Richard P. Feynman (1999), The Pleasure of Finding Things Out, Perseus Books (
[Fisher] Len Fisher (2004), Weighing the Soul: The Evolution of Scientific Beliefs, Phoenix Publishing (Google Books,
[Jones] Glenn Jones (2005), Restaurant Seafood Prices Since 1850s Help Plot Marine Harvests Through History, Texas A&M University, research in progress
[Kaswell] Alice S. Kaswell (2003), Trinkaus: An Informal Look, Annals of Improbable Research, Vol 9(3), pp 4-15
[Levitt] + Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner (2005), Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, HarperCollins Publishers
  + Wikipedia entry Steven Levitt, rogue economist
[Milgram] + Jeffrey Travers & Stanley Milgram (1969), An Experimental Study of the Small World Problem, Sociometry, Vol 32(4), pp 425-443
  + Wikipedia entry Small World Phenomenon in which Milgram's "small world experiment" is described, and criticized.
[Morgans] Julian Morgans (2019), The Story of the Couple Who Shagged in an MRI Machine for Science, article on, September 5 2019
[Rosenhan] + D. Rosenhan (1973), On being sane in insane places, Science, Vol 179, pp 250-258
  + A good description of the Rosenhan experiments
  + Wikipedia entry the Rosenhan experiments
[Skinner] B.F. Skinner (1960), Pigeons in a Pelican, American Psychologist, Vol 15(1), pp 28-37
[Vienken] Jörg Vienken (2009), ‘Bioengineering for Life’: A Tribute to Willem Johan Kolff, Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, Vol 24(8), pp 2299–2301