innovations in education >> academic programs :: home

School of Science Innovations in Education

Weird Fields' First runner-up Dan YuanThe School of Science is the home to many innovation programs in the education of the next generation of scientist and leaders. 

A few of these exciting projects are below:

The d'Arbeloff Interactive Mathematics Project (d’AIMP)
The d'Arbeloff Interactive Mathematics Project led by Mathematics professors Haynes Miller, David Jerison, Daniel Kleitman and Gilbert Strang aims to make the mathematics classes more compelling, give student’s online tutorials to use at any time, and enhance faculty awareness of the freshman and sophomore mathematics curricula.  A major thrust of the math department initiative is to develop web-based "computer manipulatives" that provide visual simulations of general mathematical concepts. Students can alter variables to see what sort of change occurs in the line, parabola, circle or other form described by an equation. These simulations form the basis of homework assignments that students access via Athena workstations.  View the simulations online at: http://www-math.mit.edu/daimp/.

Experimental Study Group
ESG is an alternative academic program at MIT that offers experimental, small group learning in the core freshman subjects within a community-based setting of 50 freshmen, 15 staff and faculty, and 25 upper class student instructors. ESG also offers a series of hands-on and innovative six unit pass/fail seminars for all undergraduates at MIT during the spring term.

HHMI Master’s of Education Group
The HHMI Master Education Group which includes, Biology Professor, Graham Walker, is an educational collaborative between several scientists from research universities, including, across the country interested in curriculum development and design in the biological sciences. As a group, these scientists are committed to developing and implementing exciting news strategies and techniques to teach biology at the university level.  Members of the Education Group are engaged in four categories of activities (labeled in blue on the diagram above) that promote the major goals of the group: teaching opportunities; thinking, learning, and talking about education; student-centered teaching tools; and outreach activities. We nurture the development of scientist-educators by providing opportunities for teaching and an environment in which to think, learn, and discuss ideas about biology education. We develop teaching tools that are student-centered to improve learning in large biology lecture courses. In designing particular curriculum projects, we are further motivated by pedagogical principles, a desire to make learning more active, and the opportunity to use technology to enhance student learning of biology. Our work to improve biology teaching includes not only undergraduates, but also, high school students through outreach activities.

Technology-Enabled Active Learning (TEAL) [TEAL tour]
Technology-enabled active learning is a teaching format that merges lectures, simulations, and hands-on desktop experiments to create a rich collaborative learning experience.  TEAL uses visualizations in teaching physics interactively in freshman courses at MIT (classes of 500 students). They combine desktop experiments with visualizations of those experiments to "make the unseen seen". The pedagogy utilizes the following elements:

  1. Collaborative learning--students work in groups of 3, with 9 students sitting at a round table and discussing electromagnetic phenomena.
  2. Networked laptaps, one for each group of 3, with data acquisition links to desktop experiments that students perform and analyze.
  3. Media-rich software for multimedia visualization, delivered via class laptops and the Web.
  4. Extensive course notes with links to the visualizations.

To learn more about the history of TEAL visit http://icampus.mit.edu/TEAL/ (TEAL) 

Undergraduate Research-Inspired Experimental Chemistry Alternatives (URIECA)
Beginning with the class of 2010, the Department of Chemistry will launch the Undergraduate Research-Inspired Experimental Chemistry Alternatives (URIECA), new laboratory curriculum that introduces students to cutting edge research topics in a modular format.
Each URIECA module is based on or linked to the current research of a faculty member in our department.  URIECA teaches core chemistry concepts within the modern contexts of:

  • Catalysis
  • Synthesis
  • Nanoscience
  • Materials engineering
  • Biological imaging
  • Spectroscopy

In addition, many modules emphasize inquiry into the mechanical and electrical inner workings of the spectroscopic instrumentation used in the experiments, thereby presenting elementary engineering principles to the students.