MIT has a long and rich tradition of innovation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. The most recent manifestation of this vision is The Future of MIT Education Task Force Report from 2014, which documents the ways in which MIT envisions moving forward in the coming years through digital learning opportunities. While the influence of this innovation can be readily seen on campus, this same force has also shaped education off campus. Through classroom technologies, curriculum units, teacher professional development, and learning research, the faculty, staff and students of MIT have sought to improve STEM education broadly beyond campus, with a special emphasis on pre K-12 learning. But since the prominent and impactful Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC) of the 1950’s, there has not been a concerted and directed effort to collectively tackle issues in pre-college education. The Future of MIT Education Task Force Report calls once again for coordinating the many existing initiatives on campus and working towards a greater impact for the pre-college work that takes place on campus.
Drawing on the recommendations of The Future of MIT Education Task Force Report, the new pK-12 Action Group will bring MIT’s unique learning approach beyond the campus to pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 (pK-12) learners and teachers around the world, building upon existing efforts and developing new ones. The Action Group will fill a growing need in STEM education by initiating new research, design, and outreach activities that will transform how students learn – and our understanding of how students learn. It will engage MIT faculty, staff, students, and researchers in pursuing two major, interrelated goals:
Changing the World through Learning
Bringing the MIT hands-on, minds-on approach to pK-12 learners and teachers through the development of new technologies, services, and curricula. These will range from low-cost laboratory instruments and innovative computing environments to new strategies for connecting learners around the world.
Changing the World of Learning
Advancing understanding of what we know about teaching and learning through a diverse set of research methodologies, from basic cognitive science and neuroscience to design-based research and classroom experiments.
MIT will show leadership and contribute to significant advances in this area, bringing innovation through design, implementation, and research. Our efforts will harness activities already in progress at the Media Lab, the Teacher Education Program, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT Museum, Anthropology, MITx, and elsewhere on campus. At the same time, it is also clear that for MIT to have this significant impact, it cannot address this opportunity alone. MIT will engage with other institution, strengthening existing relationships and developing new partnerships to collaboratively work towards achieving the goals of this Group.
MIT aims to advance the use of contemporary tools and practices to catalyze the transformation of formal and informal pK-12 STEM education. By doing this, we aspire to expand the pipeline of future engineers and scientists in fields vital to the future of the world, while also providing opportunities for all learners (including those not planning STEM careers) to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the ideas, practices, and possibilities of science and engineering in today’s society. MIT also aims to pursue innovative scientific research that can transform the future of learning and education.