Learning Communities News - 2012

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  • Prof. Anne McCantsThe single best thing about college for MIT Professor of History Anne McCants was "exploring ideas ravenously." It was like being in a candy store for four years," she says.

  • The Experimental Study Group is developing a new spring 2013 seminar designed to teach undergraduates the skills required to devise, teach, and create video content for problems taken from the MIT GIR curriculum. This seminar will teach students to create short 5-9 minute videos that concisely explain and contextualize specific problems in physics, math, chemistry and biology. The resulting videos will be dynamic in their use of illustrations, demonstrations, animations, and commentary that help present these problems in compelling ways—all from the student’s perspective.

    In the spring of 2012, ESG ran a pilot project with a small group of ESG students to create educational videos based on their GIRs. The goal of this pilot project was to demonstrate a long held belief at ESG that when students engage the process of teaching, they gain insight and command over the subject matter in ways beyond the experience of those students who do not go through this teaching process.

    Watch videos created by ESG students:

    Lorentz Transformation video thumbnail  How the Body Used Energy: Cellular Respiration video thumbnail  Gradients and Vector-valued Functions video thumbnail

    ESG has a tradition of training students to teach and runs a teaching seminar each fall that prepares first-time TAs for their peer teaching experiences. This process challenges students beyond the standard boundaries of the sciences, introducing communication-intensive elements into their learning experience. By encouraging our students to create video content as a method of teaching, we believe that we are taking our students to a new level of understanding and communication.

  • Terrascope Student on Bridge in Costa RicaThis blog records the experiences of Terrascope students during their spring break field trip to Costa Rica. This year’s trip has been developed in partnership with the Earthwatch Institute, who specialize in field-based scientific learning programs. During our week away from MIT, we will visit La Selva, a biological reserve in Costa Rica’s lowlands, where we’ll work in the field with a team of scientists whose research focuses on the diversity of caterpillars in hopes of better understanding their impact on the rain forest’s ecosystem. In addition to fieldwork, we’ll be exploring Costa Rica’s tourism, agriculture, and energy production sectors.

    Click to View Blog

  • I teach Physics, but I am not only a physicist. Like many at MIT, I have a polyhedric personality- among other things, I love to eat, cook, and speak different languages. I have always dreamed of melting some of my diverse interests into a unifying project, however I never had a chance to do it until now. In Europe, where I come from, academia tends to be compartmentalized. At MIT, I have finally had a chance to explore and grow in different directions.

    As a staff member at MIT's Experimental Study Group (ESG), I am continuously encouraged to develop creative approaches to learning and to experiment with interactive and interdisciplinary curricula. ESG experiments not only with freshmen GIRs, but also sponsors innovative seminars every spring, open to all MIT students, on a variety of subjects that are not covered in the regular curriculum.

    I am thrilled to teach, for the first time, a seminar on my language (I am a native Italian), culture, and food all woven together: Speak Italian.. With Your Mouth Full. Each class is based on the preparation of a delicious dish and on the bite-sized acquisition of parts of the Italian language and culture.

    Paola Rebusco