The following are some of ILT’s past projects. Although some of these are no longer active, they are an important part in the history of the institute.
ARIA (Associating Real and Imaginary Agents)
This project investigates how students may learn mathematical concepts within the context of a robot programming environment. Children program both virtual robots in a Adobe Flash-based environment, and real robots with LEGO Mindstorms. Upper-level elementary school students have the opportunity to enhance their knowledge of geometry and numerical estimation by participating in a series of robot-based challenges in which mathematics is the key to success.
Researchers: Jonathan Vitale, Michael Swart
DM-S3 – Direct Manipulation of Stories, Systems, and Symbols Using the iPad
Studies have shown that children improve their comprehension of unfamiliar words when manipulating toys in meaningful ways. This project examines the use of touch-based digital technology, such as the use of Apple’s iPad, in formal instructional settings to improve reading comprehension and systems thinking. Using interactive stories, 1st and 2nd grade students read grade-level appropriate texts and directly manipulate the representative objects on the screen according to the actions and declarations in the text. Based on previous work by Glenberg (2004, 2009) and Segal (2010), we examine the relationships of gestures on comprehension and the effects of discrete versus continuous gestures. For our science intervention on improving systems thinking, interactive systems force middle and high school students to directly manipulate elements in a digitally represented simple system to encourage understanding about the relationship between the various components.
Researchers: Cameron Fadjo, Jeonghan Lee
Puzzle Blocks: Learning Multiplication on the iPad
Puzzle Blocks are virtual manipulatives to help students learn multiplication. This software introduces students to a series of grouping activities that highlight the connection between counting concrete objects and abstract number concepts. While students move blocks around to complete various puzzles, they receive visual and auditory feedback that helps them see multiplication as repeated addition.
Researchers: Seungoh Paek
Problem Solving with Scratch
In this project, middle school students use Scratch, a free computer programming tool developed by MIT, to develop simple video games. In order to design the games, the students engage in a series of activities that require them to apply mathematical and logical thinking skills. Through this design process, they learn such problem-solving skills as trouble shooting, means-end analysis, and goal achievement.
Researchers: Tim Chun-Hao Chang
Scientific Problem Solving with Computer Simulations
This project offers students an opportunity to work individually to solve scientific problems around concepts such as friction, electronic shock, speed, and mass with the assistance of advanced computer technology. In each problem-solving scenario, students are assigned a few questions to answer, play with the computer simulation, verbally interpret their answer choices and finally the teachers will correct students’ misunderstanding about scientific topics. The interactive computer simulations were designed by the University of Colorado for elementary school students. The teachers will help students acquire important scientific inquiry skills and provide scaffolding understanding. Upon completion, students should a) understand the scientific principles taught as part of the unit; b) appreciate how scientific problems could be solved with computer technology.
Researchers: Daoquan Li, Tanner Vea
REflective Agent Learning environment project (REAL)
In this project, students embody their understandings of different concepts by using animated agents that interact with a virtual world. The students give their agents knowledge by developed such knowledge representations as concept maps, procedural networks, production systems, and system diagrams, and then the agents “reflect” this knowledge back by using it to interact with the virtual world. REAL provides a framework within which various learning environments can be created with different content. To date, REAL-Planet has been created for biology and ecology (with a focus on learning facts and system relations) and REAL-Business has been created to learn about statistics (with a focus on learning procedures). Other content is planned for the future, as are field tests of REAL’s effect on learning, understanding. and motivation.
iWorld (Imaginary World)
This project examines whether having students create their own video games and digital stories increases their engagement, understanding and learning of mathematical and computational concepts, as well as of language arts skills. As part of this effort, we have developed a standards-aligned curriculum, either as a semester-long after-school enhancement or a three-week (15 day) school day math and computer segment. Elementary and middle school students learn what constitutes a game, different aspects of game and graphic design, and relevant computer programming concepts (such as loops and variables) and mathematical concepts (such as operators, positive and negative numbers, and the number line). Using Scratch, a programming language developed at the MIT Media Lab, they design and create a simple game of lost and found, then expand the world in which the game characters exist by developing a story around the characters after the game is completed.
Researcher: Cameron Fadjo
HEAT (Handheld Embodied-cognition Augmented-reality Technology)
This project investigates whether having students program and directly control robots with handheld devices, such as cell phones, increases their engagement, understanding, and learning of programming concepts. As part of this project, we have designed an after-school program for 4th- to 8th-grade students who use the LEGO Mindstorms NXT to build, program and test competition-level robots.
Researchers: Daoquan Li