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Learning from MIT on STEAM Education

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2 About the Entity

About the Entity

In response to a US nationwide teaching crisis in the 1990s, particularly the shrinking pool of math and science teachers, Professor Eric Klopfer and other members at MIT worked towards rectifying this. The endowment of Rita and Joe Scheller since 2001 has allowed for the formal establishment of the Scheller Teacher Education Program (STEP) at MIT, which aims to develop a cadre of MIT undergraduates to innovate the science and math education.


The scope of the entity gradually expanded beyond teaching training for MIT students. The mission of the Education Arcade (in which the STEP program is a major part of) is to explore the playful side of the learning process, so that playfulness and engagement can be put to the forefront of teaching and learning.

MIT Education Arcade’s research-driven design has resulted in a wide range of projects that support teacher-and student-directed exploration and discovery. These projects fall into three major categories:  

  • Curriculum and Programs: Work with formal and informal educators to develop curriculum materials that implement the use of games and simulations to support more formal instructional objectives

  • Games: Develop games that can be played on computers or mobile devices and used inside and outside the classroom, and work with educators to tie the games into math and science curricula

  • Simulation and Computing Tools: Develop tools and platforms for teaching complex systems and computation thinking as well as provide an easier entry in computer science


We interviewed Louisa Rosenheck, Research Manager at MIT Education Arcade, to distill more insights about the work and its implications for the K-12 space:

2 Setting the Vision

Setting the Vision

Learning Principles


Education Arcade strongly believes that games play an important role in the learning process. They provide a safe, creative environment in which student learn to experiment, collaborate and problem-solve. They also argue that “games can engage players in learning that is specific to ‘schooling’”, and that “there are means by which teachers can leverage the learning in such games without disrupting the worlds of either play or school.” When adopting a Balanced Design principle, i.e. coordination and alignment of game design, content and assessment, games can be a robust learning tool that facilitates a powerful learning experience.

Beyond games, Education Arcade is a firm believer that integration of technology tools (e.g. simulations and social networking) can facilitate deep learning in students. When these tools are already permeating the workplace as productivity and development tools, educators need to adapt to the changing world and explore new methods in education.

Education Arcade Games.jpg
2A Learning Principles
2 Enabling Active Learning

Enabling Active Learning Within Each Discipline

Curriculum & Instruction


In order to embed the element of games into the learning process, Education Arcade has been working with educators to develop new games that can enrich the math and science curriculum. To teach complex systems and computation thinking as well as provide an easier entry in computer science, Education Arcade has also been developing relevant tools and platforms that can be used both inside and outside the classroom:


These games, tools and simulations are summarized in the table below:

Content Area





Lure of the Labyrinth






The Radix Endeavor

StarLogo Nova

StarLogo TNG



9-12th grades


9-12th grades


6-8th grades

6th grade & above

7-10th grades

6th grade & above

6-12th grades

4th grade & above

4th grade & above

9-12th grades

6-9th grades


US History, Government, English

Math, Literacy



STEAM, History

Biology, Math

Computation, Science, Complex Systems

Science, Complex Systems



A collaborative educational game using immersive 3D virtual reality

Combined social networks, online video and games to make the news more accessible and engaging, as well as promote the exploration of current events in unconventional ways

A digital game for middle-school pre-algebra students

An mobile app which enables participants to engage in active, inquiry-based learning through their interactions with participatory simulation, and coordination and discussion with one another

A game-based assessment system for geometry and spatial reasoning

A platform for making and playing location-based mobile augmented reality games

An inquiry-based online game to explore math and biology systems

A programming environment that lets students and teachers create 3D games and simulations for understanding complex systems

A downloadable programming environment that lets students and teachers create 3D games and simulations for understanding complex systems

Casual mobile games to promote STEM learning and engagement

A curated Alternate Reality game exposing middle grades students to careers in STEM by engaging them in the work of scientists

Quick Win for K-12 Educators:
Click into the links of the Education Arcade’s projects to see if you can bring the games, simulation or computing tools into your classroom!
2B Curriculum & Instruction
2 Building Capacity

Building Capacity

Professional Development


In addition to offering an option for teacher licensure for MIT undergraduates, Education Arcade has also developed some teacher professional development programs for teachers from days to weeks on campus and online:

Additionally, the Education Arcade team has written a book called Resonant Games for those who are interested in the principles for designing educational games that integrate content and play. A number of white papers on the same topic have also been circulated.

Quick Win for K-12 Educators:
Click into the links to learn more about the PD opportunities offered by MIT Education Arcade. Do contact the Project Contact for further details.
Education Arcade Reasonant Games.png
Quick Win for K-12 Educators:
Consider purchasing the Resonant Games book or read the white papers to learn more on how to design games that connect hears, minds and the everyday!

Four free, online courses that prepare teachers for designing, developing or implementing educational technology tools: “Introduction to Game Design", “Design and Development of Educational Technology”, “Design and Development of Games for Learning”, “Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technology

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

Teacher professional development centered on Project-Based Learning and designing lessons that are student-centered and inquiry-driven

One week summer program in which teachers from across the world gather on MIT’s campus to learn more about the groundbreaking research that is happening on campus


Computation, Science, Complex Systems


STEM, Computer Science

Content Area
2C Professional Development


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