Active Learning in 3.091 : The Goodie Bag

Principal Investigator
Prof. Jeffrey Grossman, Materials Science and Engineering
Fund: d'Arbeloff Fund
Funding Period: AY2017
Department/Lab/Center: Materials Science and Engineering

This fall I have taken over 3.091 (“Introduction to Solid State Chemistry”) for the first time, and in doing so I made some changes. On the one hand, I brought the class back to a more traditional format, with blackboard lectures, practice problems worked in recitations, 3 in-class midterms plus a final, weekly quizzes and plenty of homework. On the other hand, I have added a hands-on non-traditional component to the class in the form of what I refer to as “goodie bags.” Each week, all students take home a bag of items for them to “touch, feel, and experience the chemistry” in their own lives. These are not labs or some kind of lab- component to the class. Rather, the goodie-bags are mini-experiments intended to bring the key material of the week to life, serve as a visual compliment the conceptual elements, and enhance both individual and collaborative “discovery based” learning moments that cannot be predicted. The aim of these goodie bags is to foster exploration, reinforce abstract concepts with tangible actions, and engage students with different learning experiences. Together with a team of MIT graduate and undergraduate students, we brainstormed throughout the summer to design and assemble 10 goodie bags for this fall semester to coincide with the curriculum material.