The 10 Coolest Online Courses You Can Sign Up For in April 2019

iStock.com/imaginima
iStock.com/imaginima

If you consider yourself a lifelong learner, online courses are an easy and affordable way to hone your skills, challenge your brain, and maybe even discover a new interest or hobby. You can find e-courses on everything from interior design to graphic design, and many of these classes are free on websites like Udemy, Coursera, and edX. (But if you want a certificate to prove you completed the program, there is typically a fee attached.)

Ready to dive into some lesson plans? We’ve selected 10 of the coolest classes you can take right now from the comfort of your own home.

1. Dog CPR and First Aid

Many non-medical professionals are now CPR-certified, but did you know that similar first aid techniques can be used on dogs in emergency scenarios? This course covers CPR and the Heimlich maneuver for canines, as well as explaining how to read a dog’s vital signs. One of the lessons also addresses emergency prevention, including topics such as car safety, toxic foods and plants, and disaster preparedness. Whether you have a fur baby of your own or just want to be ready to rescue an animal in need, this is the course for you.

Sign up on Udemy for $14. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

2. Neuroplasticity: How To Rewire Your Brain

Old habits die hard, but it’s still possible to make meaningful, lasting change in your life. Taught by psychologist and Brain Academy founder Gregory Caremans, the course is ideal for anyone who wants to form healthier habits, minimize painful memories, or stop procrastinating (indeed, there’s a whole chapter dedicated to this last topic). No prior knowledge is necessary, but be prepared to give your brain a full workout. The class includes lots of exercises that will help you reshape your brain in the most literal sense.

Sign up on Udemy for $14. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

3. The Science of Well-Being

After you’re done rewiring your brain, you can teach it how to be happier with this class from Yale University. Psychology professor Laurie Santos starts off by refuting common misconceptions about the things we think will make us happy, despite scientific evidence to the contrary. Fortunately, these biases of the brain can be overcome, and a large chunk of the class is dedicated to strategies that can be used to achieve a greater sense of well-being.

If Santos's class leaves you wanting more, you can also sign up for The Science of Happiness, a free class from the University of California, Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center. It's available on edX for free (with an option of buying a $49 certificate upon completion).

Sign up for Santos's course on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

4. The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact On Pop Culture

If you’re still mourning the loss of legendary comic book creator Stan Lee, you may enjoy this course from SmithsonianX, which features some of the superhero-themed knowledge that Lee imparted during his time on this Earth. You’ll also hear from another comic book maven, Michael Uslan, who served as executive producer of The Dark Knight series and The Lego Movie. After six weeks, you’ll be able to explain how the birth of the first-ever superhero in 1938 launched a global phenomenon that continues to inform art, pop culture, and even ethics.

Sign up on edX for free. The optional certificate costs $50.

5. Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe

What caused the Big Bang? What is our universe made of? Is there life in outer space? Two astronomers from the Australian National University set out to address some of the lingering questions in modern astrophysics. You may walk away from this course with more questions than answers, but you’ll have a more informed take on life’s greatest mysteries, as well as a better understanding of why exactly they’re so tough to crack.

Sign up on edX for free. The optional certificate costs $50.

6. The Kennedy Half Century

Calling all history and presidential trivia buffs: This course from the University of Virginia provides a comprehensive understanding of the legacy that John F. Kennedy left behind. It covers J.F.K.’s rise to power, presidency, and assassination, and explains how these momentous events have had a long-lasting impact on the public, media, and presidents who came after him.

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

7. The Science of Beer

If Alton Brown was to teach a class on beer, it would probably look similar to this offering from Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands. You’ll learn how your beloved brew of choice is made and what exactly makes it taste so delicious. Fair warning, though: You’ll also learn about some of the unsavory health effects of imbibing too much beer. There’s a business angle, too—instructors provide an overview of how beer ends up in the supply chain and how marketers try to influence consumer behavior.

Sign up on edX for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

8. The Music of the Beatles

With 13 studio albums to their name, The Beatles released enough material to dissect, analyze, and enjoy for decades to come. This class from the University of Rochester charts the band’s evolution as musicians, from their early experiences in Liverpool and Hamburg to their psychedelic phase to the release of Abbey Road, the last album they recorded. (Although, as you’ll likely learn in this course, Let It Be was the last album they actually released).

Sign up on Coursera for free. The optional certificate costs $49.

9. Aquaponic Gardening: Growing Fish and Vegetables Together

Healthy, sustainable food doesn’t always come cheap, so why not raise your dinner in your own backyard? Author and aquaponic gardening expert Sylvia Bernstein will guide you through the basics of raising fish like tilapia, bluegill, and catfish in captivity. In turn, the waste from those fish can be used to nurture an entire fruit or vegetable garden. Sylvia and her husband, Alan, will demonstrate the eco-friendly techniques you’ll need to know to yield a bountiful feast.

Sign up on Udemy for $25. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

10. Passive Income: Top 10 Legit Ways to Make Money Online

Everyone wants to know how to make more money with less effort. Entrepreneur and IT professional Victor Gorinov's Udemy class is designed to help you figure out how to do that. He’ll introduce you to the basic concepts involved in earning passive income, tackling options like affiliate marketing, domain trading, investing in stocks and real estate, monetizing your YouTube account, and selling your photos and videos to stock image websites.

Sign up on Udemy for $12. A certificate of completion is included in the price.

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Turn Your LEGO Bricks Into a Drone With the Flybrix Drone Kit

Flyxbrix/FatBrain
Flyxbrix/FatBrain

Now more than ever, it’s important to have a good hobby. Of course, a lot of people—maybe even you—have been obsessed with learning TikTok dances and baking sourdough bread for the last few months, but those hobbies can wear out their welcome pretty fast. So if you or someone you love is looking for something that’s a little more intellectually stimulating, you need to check out the Flybrix LEGO drone kit from Fat Brain Toys.

What is a Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit?

The Flybrix drone kit lets you build your own drones out of LEGO bricks and fly them around your house using your smartphone as a remote control (via Bluetooth). The kit itself comes with absolutely everything you need to start flying almost immediately, including a bag of 56-plus LEGO bricks, a LEGO figure pilot, eight quick-connect motors, eight propellers, a propeller wrench, a pre-programmed Flybrix flight board PCB, a USB data cord, a LiPo battery, and a USB LiPo battery charger. All you’ll have to do is download the Flybrix Configuration Software, the Bluetooth Flight Control App, and access online instructions and tutorials.

Experiment with your own designs.

The Flybrix LEGO drone kit is specifically designed to promote exploration and experimentation. All the components are tough and can totally withstand a few crash landings, so you can build and rebuild your own drones until you come up with the perfect design. Then you can do it all again. Try different motor arrangements, add your own LEGO bricks, experiment with different shapes—this kit is a wannabe engineer’s dream.

For the more advanced STEM learners out there, Flybrix lets you experiment with coding and block-based coding. It uses an arduino-based hackable circuit board, and the Flybrix app has advanced features that let you try your hand at software design.

Who is the Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit for?

Flybrix is a really fun way to introduce a number of core STEM concepts, which makes it ideal for kids—and technically, that’s who it was designed for. But because engineering and coding can get a little complicated, the recommended age for independent experimentation is 13 and up. However, kids younger than 13 can certainly work on Flybrix drones with the help of their parents. In fact, it actually makes a fantastic family hobby.

Ready to start building your own LEGO drones? Click here to order your Flybrix kit today for $198.

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How to Brew Your Own Fluorescent Beer at Home

The Odin
The Odin

If you're one of the many people who made their own sourdough starter in quarantine, you already know yeast is a living thing. That means its biological makeup can be tweaked using genetic engineering. As Gizmodo reports, that's exactly what a former NASA biologist has done to create his new fluorescent yeast kits.

A few years ago, Josiah Zayner left his job as a synthetic biologist for NASA to found The Odin, a company that lets anyone experiment with genetic science at home. His recently launched yeast kit accomplishes this in an eye-catching way. Thanks to a fluorescent protein from jellyfish, yeast that's been genetically modified with the kit glows green under a black or blue light.

Despite looking like a prop from a sci-fi film, the yeast is still yeast. That means it can be used in home-brewing projects if you want to take the science experiment a step further. According to Eater, yeast made with the kit ferments and fluoresces when added to honey and water. If you brew a batch of beer with the right amount of yeast, the final product will emit an otherworldly glow when viewed under a blacklight. The kit hasn't been FDA approved, but the company states the materials are nontoxic and nonallergenic, and beer made with it will still taste like beer.

You can purchase a fluorescent yeast kit from The Odin's online shop for $169. If you're looking for more ways to experiment with genetic technology at home, the company also sells kits that let you play with frog and bacteria DNA.

[h/t Gizmodo]