The team behind STEP and TEA
Eric Klopfer is Professor and Director of the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade at MIT (link to CV). He is the Head of the department of Comparative Media Studies and Writing. He is also a co-faculty advisor for MIT’s J-WEL World Education Lab. His work uses a Design Based Research methodology to span the educational technology ecosystem, from design and development of new technologies to professional development and implementation. Much of Klopfer’s research has focused on computer games and simulations for building understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. He is the co-author of the books, “Adventures in Modeling”, “The More We Know, and the recently released “Resonant Games”, as well as author of “Augmented Learning.” His lab has produced software (from casual mobile games to the MMO The Radix Endeavor) and platforms (including StarLogo Nova and Taleblazer) used by millions of people, as well as online courses that have reached hundreds of thousands. His work has been funded by federal agencies including NIH, NSF and the Department of Education, as well as the Gates Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Tata Trusts. Klopfer is also the co-founder and past President of the non-profit Learning Games Network (www.learninggamesnetwork.org).
Quote:“Over the years I've collected many turtles, the iconic figure from the Logo language lineage dating back to Seymour Papert. I grew up in the age of Logo and was inspired to learn programming at an early age. The turtle continued on in Mitch Resnick’s work, and we maintain turtles at the heart of StarLogo.”
Judy Perry is Director of STEP/TEA, overseeing design, development, and research across the lab’s projects. Prior to serving as Director, Perry spent 15+ years in STEP as a Research Manager where her research focused on mobile and AR/VR educational games, simulations, and toolkits, and their integration into formal and informal learning settings. Her work included the TaleBlazer augmented reality (AR) software platform, CLEVR (Collaborative Learning Environments in Virtual Reality), pSims (mobile participatory simulations), and CLIx (the Connected Learning Initiative). Prior to joining MIT’s STEP lab, Perry’s work included television and web production, and content development for educational toys. Perry holds a BA in American Studies from Yale University and an EdM in Technology, Innovation, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Quote:Judy agrees with Seymour Papert that the best learning is “hard fun.” The effort of searching for elusive clues, pondering evidence, solving a mystery—it's fun precisely because it is challenging.
Emma Anderson has a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. She holds an MA from the University of Buffalo in geology and an BA from Smith College in sociology-anthropology. Her research centers around science, art, making, and play. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked at Baltimore Woods Nature Center as an environmental educator bringing science lessons into urban kindergarten through 6th-grade classrooms and leading summer campers around the woods.
Feeley designs and researches educational games and related technologies. Her areas of interest include participatory narratives, museums, STEM topics, and financial education. She was the project manager and co-designer for Vanished, a transmedia science mystery game/event co-developed with the Smithsonian, which reached more than 6,500 players. Past projects have included multimedia instructional materials for the National Science Foundation-funded Kids Survey Network, a program teaching statistics and data analysis to middle schoolers. She also co-designed the award-winning financial literacy games Farm Blitz and Bite Club for the Doorway to Dreams Fund. Feeley was the 2016 Fellow in Museum Practice at the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, and holds a master’s degree in Technology, Innovation and Education from Harvard University.
Fun Fact:Caitlin got her start in game development through live action role-playing games, and still makes time on weekends to chase down zombies with NERF guns like this one. Her gun reminds her that that a great game should engage us physically, emotionally, and intellectually. It also reminds her to always be prepared for zombies.
Green manages sponsored research administration and financials for the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade. Green has a passion for climbing and is often pondering where to travel next. As a mentor for climbers through the MIT Outing Club, he has developed a special interest in teaching climbing—sometimes for unusual circumstances. He travels to climbing destinations around the world, and also enjoys puzzles.
Quote:“It's important to use proper protection while climbing. Looking good is equally important.”
Jason is a research assistant and PhD candidate in The Education Arcade and the MIT Media Lab. His research focuses on designing interesting civic and multiplayer experiences (for learning and otherwise) and evaluating them in context. Recent work includes the math and science MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) The Radix Endeavor and the school re-design card game, Committee of N—as well as an online experience for the experimental theatre piece, Sleep No More. He is also co-author of The More We Know (with Eric Klopfer) and Resonant Games: Design Principles for Learning Games that Connect Hearts, Minds, and the Everyday (with Eric Klopfer, Scot Osterweil, and Louisa Rosenheck) from MIT Press. He holds a BA in film studies from Wesleyan University and an MEd from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Technology, Innovation, and Education program.
Photo description:Jason chose his Rock Band™ drumsticks, not just because he was able to each himself to play the drums through that game. He loves rhythm, collaboration, performance, and transgression in digital games—all of which that game has in spades.
Hanks is the lead developer on the Connected Learning Initiative. His development efforts focus on educational games and the technology to deliver them. Prior to joining MIT, he built and managed development teams for a variety of start-ups, ranging from Android development to remote sensing. Hanks has bachelor’s degrees in math and physics, with a minor in chemistry.
Quote:“Numbers and imagination come together in Brandon's favorite game: Dungeons & Dragons. Currently, he's playing the fifth edition as a swashbuckling rogue.”
Hargroder came to MIT after ten years in public education as a high school English teacher, instructional coach, and assistant principal in Louisiana and Texas. He is a Teach For America alumnus and has experience developing curricula, training and coaching teachers, and has recently worked on projects involving wrap-around student support, trauma-sensitive and restorative practices, project-based learning, career-technical education, and community partnerships. His current interests are related primarily to issues of equity and creating transformational learning experiences for students and teachers. He holds a BA in English from Louisiana State University and an MEd in educational leadership from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Quote:“As a teacher, I never felt complete without my clipboard. Document holder, fan, sun shield, acting prop, door stop—truly a tool for every occasion.”
Kristina Heavey is the program manager for the Scheller Teacher Education Program. Her current work includes supervising undergraduate student-teachers and assisting instructors of teacher education courses at MIT. Heavey taught seventh- and eighth-grade science for five years prior to working at MIT, and began teaching through Teach For America in Charlotte, North Carolina. While in North Carolina, Heavey worked for TEACH Charlotte, creating and leading professional development for first-year science teachers. Upon moving to Boston, Heavey began teaching in Chelsea, Massachusetts, with Excel Academy Charter Schools. While in the classroom, she worked to develop curriculum and create rigorous assessments. Originally from the state of Washington, Heavey graduated from Gonzaga University and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and criminal justice.
Photo description:Kristina is a die-hard Gonzaga basketball fan. Besides having a dominant basketball team, Gonzaga also places a large emphasis on social justice. Kristina found her passion for education through her alma mater.
Hsiao is always curious with how adults learn and playfully develop new skills in their workplace. In TEA, she designs and conducts research that studies how teachers deepen their instructional knowledge in professional development programs and through using educational technology tools with their students. Prior to MIT, she researched the development of teacher expertise in facilitating academic discussions that promoted student literacy in science and history. She also studied how teams of physicians and nurses learned to reduce clinical errors in medical simulation programs. For many years, Hsiao was a Boston Public Schools classroom teacher—and at her core, she identifies herself as an educator. She holds a doctorate in Human Development and Education and a masters in Technology, Innovation, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Photo description:Ling grew up playing with spinning koma tops in Japan. She gains inspiration from tinkering with patterns that emerge from moving wooden toys.
Colton Laferriere has a passion for games and learning. At the office, this means maintaining a happy and efficient working environment in the lab. At home, it means going to weekly D&D sessions and (too) many hours spent playing games like Overwatch and The Legend of Zelda. Colton holds a bachelor’s degree in arts management from Emerson College.
Irene Lee is a research scientist at the Scheller Teacher Education Program and The Education Arcade. She is the founder and program director of Project GUTS: Growing Up Thinking Scientifically and Teachers with GUTS. The programs she develops enable participants to create computer models and use them to gain a scientific understanding of the world around them. Lee’s research focuses on students’ and teachers’ understanding of complex adaptive systems and their development of computational thinking skills. She served as the chair of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) Computational Thinking Task Force and as a lead writer of the K-12 Computer Science Frameworks and the CSTA K-12 Computer Science Standards (of 2011). Lee is a past president of the Supercomputing Challenge and the Swarm Development Group, and was previously the director of the Learning Lab at Santa Fe Institute.
Quote:“I have had a lifelong fascination with natural forms—their use of space and patterns of growth. As a child, I drew trees based on branching rules and loved to generate ripple patterns based on interference. In the early days of computer graphics, I saw the potential of computers as tools to understand and mimic the natural world through animation and simulation, and thus began a long quest to understand patterns in nature through modeling and simulation.”
Osterweil is the creative director of The Education Arcade and a research director in the MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing Program. As a game designer he has worked in both academic and commercial environments, and his work focuses on the authentically playful aspects of challenging academic subjects. He has designed games for computers, handheld devices, and multiplayer online environments. He is the co-creator of the acclaimed Zoombinis series of math and logic games and has lead a number of projects in The Education Arcade, including the MIT/Smithsonian-curated game, Vanished (environmental science); Labyrinth (math); Kids Survey Network (data and statistics); Caduceus (medical science); iCue (history and civics); and the Hewlett Foundation’s Open Language Learning Initiative (ESL). He is a founding member of the Learning Games Network, where among other projects he created Quandary (ethics), the 2013 Games 4 Change Festival game of the year.
Quote:“Ben Franklin was the greatest mind of the 18th century, a self-taught scientist and statesman. He represents nothing if not playfulness, curiosity and the power of self-directed learning.”
Rosenheck manages the design, content, and development of a wide array of educational technology projects.. She also oversees the research done on these projects, exploring how games can be used most effectively in both formal and informal educational settings. She also brings the playfulness of games into her assessment design work, creating digital and non-digital tools to help both students and teachers assess creative work and soft skills. In addition to these areas, she supports other designers and organizations in creating innovative ed tech and curriculum. Through capacity building partnerships on local and international ed tech programs, she aims to increase the deep learning in games and tools being produced for education. Prior to becoming a researcher at MIT, Rosenheck worked in public media and website production, and also taught English as Second Language (ESL) to children and adults of all ages. She holds a BA in computer science from Brown University and an EdM in Technology, Innovation, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Photo description:Louisa's dog Lotus is an inspiration for playfulness and the simple pleasures in life. When she runs with other dogs, the pure joy of running is apparent in her stride—a good reminder to us all to take a minute and recognize the most basic element of fun in whatever we are doing.
Dan Roy is a research scientist at the Education Arcade and the Teaching Systems Lab, designing playful learning experiences for teachers and students alike. He is the lead game designer on the CLEVR project, inviting high school biology students to explore a cell in VR and collaboratively diagnose and treat a genetic disorder. He directs the ELK project, helping teacher candidates practice understanding what students know through roleplay conversations. Dan is also the founder of Skylight Games, a social enterprise inspiring a love of learning through play, starting with languages (Lyriko). Before his current roles, he worked with the Learning Games Network on games to teach language (Xenos) and science (Food Fight, Guts and Bolts), and with the Education Arcade, helping middle-schoolers build curiosity, intuition, and comfort in math through puzzles (Lure of The Labyrinth). He has an SM in Comparative media studies from MIT and a BS in computer science from UMass Amherst.
Schoenfeld is a content strategist and producer with a passion for researching, designing, and developing educational experiences at the intersection of digital and physical spaces. She is particularly interested in translating science to story (via various media) to bring abstract concepts to life for diverse audiences. Over the course of her career, she has worked as an education researcher, executive science editor, distance-learning program evaluator, and museum exhibit developer. Schoenfeld holds a master’s in environmental science/social ecology from Yale University and a BA in Latin American history from Brandeis University.
Photo description:Ilana believes inspiring wonder is a powerful way to engage students in learning. She is often amazed by interconnections and patterns she sees in nature. These stuffed whale-fish represent agents in a much larger stuffed-fish ecosystem.
Thompson draws upon her background in science education and outreach as a research scientist and lecturer for the Scheller Teacher Education Program. Her research interests are in collaborative learning, STEM educational games, and using virtual and simulated environments for learning STEM topics. She has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Cornell, a master’s in science and engineering education from Tufts, and a doctorate in science education from Boston University. She has two current projects: the Collaborative Learning Environments for Virtual Reality (CLEVR) is creating a cross platform collaborative game about cellular biology, and INSPIRE is a group of education professors who are using games and simulations in teacher preparation. Thompson uses those games and simulations when she teaches the STEP course: “Understanding and Evaluating Education.”
Interests:In her spare time, Meredith writes and sings music with her twin sister Chris (www.cmthompson.com), writes poetry, and enjoys hiking in the woods.
Tung joined the lab with years of product management in public broadcasting followed by a brief stint in the corporate web production world. Early exposure to Tetris and Dr. Mario taught her the joys of putting things in proper order and that the completion of neat packages can efficiently shorten a task list. Games like Dungeons & Dragons taught her to look outside those proverbial neat boxes for creative solutions to tricky puzzles, including complex projects with multi-layered dependencies. On a daily basis she helps to take care of tasks related to: development processes, contracts, budgets, schedules, scope, vendor relationships, billing, and other planning duties for her projects and also for The Education Arcade’s lab. Tung holds a BA in music from Florida State University and an MA in media arts from Emerson College.
Quote:I'm forever inspired by music for its intricacies when shaped into masterful compositions, its fluidity while improvised, and its capacity to communicate universally. When not making music, I am an equal opportunity eater, hula hoop dancer, and bicycle enthusiast, sometimes all at the same time.
After taking several Scheller Teacher Education Program classes as an MIT undergraduate, Wendel officially joined STEP as a Master of Engineering student under Professor Klopfer’s supervision in 2005, taking on the task of rewriting StarLogo TNG’s terrain system and much of its 3D rendering system. After graduation and a brief stint as a systems engineer in the defense industry, Wendel returned to STEP as a staff member to help lead the then-newly-formed Imagination Toolbox project, which aims to increase student interest and ability in STEM subjects through the use of computer tools like StarLogo TNG. Wendel continues to work as a software developer, curriculum designer, and research manager for several projects in STEP and The Education Arcade, and also takes his role as a student supervisor and mentor seriously. He’s worked closely with more than 40 Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and MEng students who’ve contributed in countless ways to STEP and The Education Arcade.
Photo description:The Turtle is the central actor of Logo, a pioneering computer language that gave elementary school students the opportunity to become computer programmers. This particular turtle, though, is a handmade gift from Daniel's wife, who is a better programmer than he is.