MIT STEP Lab Presents

Imagination Toolbox

Imagination Toolbox is a week-long professional development program for formal and informal educators interested in 3D games and simulations


Imagination Toolbox is an exciting week-long workshop for educators to learn how to bring computational thinking and modeling into their classes through 3D games and simulations in StarLogo Nova. StarLogo Nova is a free graphical programming environment designed to enable students and teachers with no prior programming experience to create and study 3D games and simulations. There are many ways teachers can use StarLogo Nova with their students: students can create their own games or simulations about a certain topic, a teacher can create a game or simulation and have their students use it, or a teacher can adapt and use StarLogo projects developed by others in the community. You do not need to be a programmer to find something that will work for your students.

By the end of the workshop, participants will have created/planned an activity specifically suited to their classes. For example, a computer teacher may create a guided programming activity, whereas a science teacher may build an ecosystem simulation, and an English teacher may modify a game to make it take place in a scene from a book. Participants will also practice the technical and pedagogical skills necessary to successfully bring this content to their students.

The workshop is open to teachers in all subject areas who have an interest in incorporating computer programming, simulations, or games into their classes. It is ideal for an educator who has an idea for an activity or learning goal, but needs help developing and sequencing the activity, or needs technical help to program a game or simulation.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Excitement about using programming, games, or simulations with your students
  • Commitment to attending the entire workshop
  • Confidence and comfort with student-centered teaching and learning
  • Access to a class set of computers or a computer classroom

Summer 2023 Details:

  • August 7-11, 9am-3:30pm
  • In person at MIT (recommended)
  • Virtual participation option
  • 30 hours of professional development points (PDPs)
  • Registration is free this year!


“I have been continually impressed with the quality of the presentations, the thoughtfulness of the activities and the responsiveness/support of your team… I am thoroughly looking forward to introducing my students to [StarLogo Nova] and to working with the STEP team in the coming months/years!”

“I have gained many things to use in my classes. The two blocks challenge makes students explore on their own, which I find they are reluctant to do. I think the fact that we had to make our own lesson helped me think about new lessons that I will use in my classes.”

“Very positive experience, as always. The workshop had a nice balance of opportunities to learn new things, practice on projects that are useful for us, and chances to take mental breaks as needed. Each year I learn more, and can feed that back into projects I’m leading.[…]This is a good community to be part of. Thanks to all — Daniel, Wendy, facilitators, and participants. I hope to be able to get back for at least one follow-up meeting.”

“I learned so much and I feel like I have met some kindred spirits. It was great having the time to play with the challenges we were presented with. I leave quite enriched.”

“Imagination Toolbox was one of the most absorbing workshops I have ever attended. You not only expanded our simulation and game programming skills, but also continually modeled best practices in presenting new material. I found myself not only taking notes about StarLogo TNG and [StarLogo Nova], but also about ways to engage students from beginners to those more advanced.[…] I am also heartened by the team’s priority to build a vibrant learning community alongside application development. I will confidently recommend future STEP workshops to my colleagues and look forward to spreading the use of StarLogo throughout our grades 7-12 STEM curriculum. I am also envisioning opportunities for simulation and game design in the English, Social Studies, Spanish (our sole foreign language) and Art classes. Thank you all so much for the chance to participate, for honoring the ideas we brought into the workshop each day and for the wealth of curriculum materials you sent us back out into the world with.”


Project Specifics


Educators, Researchers

Content Area

All subjects welcome

Project Contact

Daniel Wendel