Learning Communities News - All Years

DUE News Archives: All Years | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 
  • This year, the Terrascope program offered a unique challenge to a group of more than 50 freshmen in Mission 2013, or 12.000. Their task, which was to propose a global solution to the rapid rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide using Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), was by no means an easy one. In the past, Terrascope has asked freshmen to study a variety of complex problems including the destruction of the Amazon rain forest, reconstruction of post-Katrina New Orleans, collapse of the global fishery, and the lack of fresh water in western North America.

  • Youth Radio  participants interviewing Children's Museum staff memberCambridge teens working with the Terrascope Youth Radio outreach program have created an audio tour for Boston Children’s Museum, highlighting the green aspects of the museum’s recent renovation. The tour is now the museum’s only official audio tour, available pre-loaded into .mp3 players at the museum’s Information desk, and also available online at: http://bostonchildrensmuseum.org/about/audio_tour.html

  • Terrascope students at Arizona FallsMembers of the Terrascope freshman learning community have returned from a week-long trip to southern Arizona, during which they were able to see firsthand many of the factors contributing to a crisis in the availability of fresh water that threatens much of the Southwest. The returning students, having deepened their knowledge of the human and technological factors underlying the crisis, show a renewed commitment to informing the public about the seriousness of the situation, and also a stronger understanding of the influences that have made it difficult to take action thus far.

  • Freshmen enrolled in Mission 2012 (subject 12.000) were given a daunting charge by Professor Sam Bowring at the beginning of the fall semester: devise a solution to the imminent water crisis in western North America, to make it possible to provide clean fresh water to that region for the next century and beyond. Students unveiled their detailed proposal on December 2 before an audience that included a panel of experts brought to MIT from Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico.

  • A visitor walking from Lobby 10 to Lobby 13 in late May would have come across an unusual sight: The bow of a large fishing vessel, surprisingly close and pointed directly at the staircase leading down into the lobby. The vessel was a replica, of course, not the real thing, and it was just one of an array of exhibits built by freshmen in the Terrascope program that filled Lobby 13 with color, light, sound and even a few smells.

  • For Terrascopers, the Spring Break trip to Iceland served as a culmination of the work Terrascope students did in the fall, as a source of inspiration for their spring projects [as seen in the previous article] and as a community-building experience, bringing together the freshmen, upper-class and graduate students, faculty members and staff.

  • This spring has been a time for those involved with Terrascope to present their work to wider audiences.  In May, this year’s class of Terrascopers opened to the public an interactive museum they had created focusing on New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. Exhibits included:

    • A walk-through maze, representing the decision tree New Orleans residents were faced with as Katrina approached, during the storm and in its aftermath. As visitors entered the maze, signs directed them to decide between evacuating or remaining in New Orleans. Those who chose evacuation had a choice of destination, and those who chose to stay also had a number of options. Each choice led to a distinct path through the maze, with distinct consequences. For example, those who chose to remain in their homes passed through a “storm” that included debris propelled by a fan, eventually emerging onto a simulated rooftop to await evacuation.

    • A replica of a storm-ravaged house, marked on the outside with the now-familiar annotated X painted on by post-storm emergency officials.  Visitors first entered a room laid out to represent the jumbled, muddy interior of a house, as it would have appeared shortly after the storm.  They then passed through into a room showing what a house would look like in the midst of gutting and restoration. Interactive elements enabled visitors to get a feel for what it might be like to work on such a restoration. For example, they could try to break up a wall with a sledgehammer, explore secret compartments in which some New Orleanians stored valuables, and sort debris according to rules established by recovery workers.

    • An informational tour of hurricanes and their effects, including an interactive element in which visitors could create a simulated storm surge and see how it affected regions protected by wetlands and barrier islands, those protected by levees, and those with no protection. In another element, visitors learned the difference between the infamous “I-wall” floodwalls, and the superior “T-wall” systems, by erecting their own floodwalls in a sandbox and feeling how easily an I-wall can be compromised.

  • Participants in the MIT Terrascope program, a freshman learning community affiliated with DUE’s Office of Experiential Learning, spent Spring Break in and around New Orleans, on a field trip designed to deepen their appreciation of issues they explored during the fall semester and to provide information and resources for projects they are working on in the spring.

  • Terascopers setup exhibit at the Aquarium of the PacificLast year, students in Terrascope, one of MIT’s alternative freshman programs, created an interactive museum in Lobby 13, where hundreds of visitors learned about the science of tsunamis and about the devastating effects of a tsunami that struck Valdivia, Chile, in 1960. Now they are taking their work to a much wider audience—the 1.4 million visitors expected to pass through a new exhibit opening this summer at the Aquarium of the Pacific, in Long Beach, California.

  • Editor's note: This recent op-ed piece in the New York Times on how to attract women to the field of engineering features D-Lab as one success story in that effort.

    The figures are well known: At Apple 20 percent of tech jobs are held by women and at Google, only 17 percent. A report by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee estimates that nationwide about 14 percent of engineers in the work force are women.

    As a woman with a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, I look at those numbers with despair.