Weird 101

May 29, 2019

College isn’t all math classes, science labs, and lectures about Medieval English literature. There are also these strange — and very real — courses offered by colleges and universities.

The Amazing World of Bubbles

This course at the prestigious scientific institute Caltech does involve blowing bubbles, but it’s more about exploring the complex physics behind the natural (and fun) phenomenon.

Maple Syrup: The Real Thing

Alfred University in Western New York once offered this course on the history of the pancake’s best and oldest friend. When they were done with the knowledge, students also learned how to make maple syrup from scratch.


Want to learn to speak the language of the elves, the pointy-eared warrior race in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings? Then you should have taken this 2004 offering at the University of Wisconsin, taught by one of the world’s foremost expert in the fictional language.

Street Fighting Mathematics

Who brings math to a fist fight? The people who took this class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which looks at the math of violence, like, say, the velocity of a punch to the face.

The Art of Walking

This course from Centre College in Kentucky is a lot more rigorous — mentally and physically — than it sounds. There’s a long tradition of long walks and wandering in classic German literature, and students in this class talk about that while walking as many as 25 miles at a time.

Makin’ Whoopi

Whoopi Goldberg has certainly had a wildly varied career, from one-woman-show performer to Oscar-winning actress to talk show host. Her unique body of work is also the topic of a class at Maine’s Bates College.

UFOs in American Society

This class at Temple University looks at the history of alien flying saucers…or at least how they figure into American literature, film, the military, conspiracy theories, and fringe societies.

Tree Climbing

In case you didn’t learn how to do it when you were 10, Ivy League school Cornell University has offered a class to teach students “how to get up into the canopy of any tree, to move around, even to climb from one tree to another.”