MIT STEP offers a teacher licensing program that can be done entirely at MIT or in conjunction with courses at Wellesley College. This program licenses students to teach mathematics or science in grades 5-12. The Scheller Teacher Education Program, offered through the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, prepares MIT students to become teachers who are competent to teach in their field, willing to challenge established norms, able to bridge the boundaries among disciplines, and eager to help students develop the desire to question and explore. Click here for more info on STEP and here for more info on classes.
STEP is actively engaged in many research and development projects, designing and testing new learning technologies for use in formal and informal education. While some projects are in limited testing with partners, others are freely available for all to try and to use (some complete with curriculum and assessment). Find out more about these projects on the projects page.
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Game Programming for Beginners
The StarLogo TNG game curriculum unit uses computer game design as the motivation and theme to introduce programming to middle or high school students. StarLogo TNG is The Next Generation of StarLogo modeling and simulation software. Students and teachers use SLTNG’s agents-based programming and 3-D graphics to create and understand simulations and complex systems. Each 1.5 hour lesson includes a mini-lesson to introduce new programming commands and one or more programming exercises to practice using those commands to design a game play element. Ideally, students continue working on programming activities on their own for 30 min to 1 hour outside of class time. Over the course of 10 lessons, students gain the programming knowledge to develop their own “Treasure Hunt” game, a complex system that includes multiple agents and first person game play. They also learn programming basics such as the concept of a forever loop, Boolean logic used in if / then statements, procedures and abstraction, and using variables.
The unit is designed for a teacher to use in an in-school computer class or after school computer club. The instructional materials are available to download as individual files (see below) or as a single zip file.
- Teacher Guide (.doc)
- PowerPoint slide presentations for each lesson (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,10)
- Student Handouts:
- Project files for programming activities
- lesson 1: first program + solution
- lesson 2: movement review, obstacles + solution
- lesson 3: obstacles, first program mod
- lesson 4: review + solution, treasure game
- lesson 5: review + solution
- lesson 6: review + solution, terrain practice
- lesson 7: review + solution
- lesson 8: review + solution
- lesson 9: review + solution
- lesson 10: review + solution
Sample lesson description and screenshots:
In lesson 1, students are introduced to four movement blocks (forward, back, left and right). They use these blocks to program instructions for 20 turtle agents so to maximize the score, which is based on the height of the patches that the turtles are standing on. The challenge is to figure out how best to keep the turtles on high scoring patches and away from low scoring patches.
A screenshot of the PowerPoint slide presentations:
Screenshot of student handout of programming activities for lesson 1: