Today I took a team of trustees, teachers and staff to MIT to get a personal four hour tour of the Physics laboratories at MIT with our architect Randall Imai and the chair of the MIT Physics Department, Professor Thomas Greytak. Randall and his team have done a great deal of work on the MIT campus and we spent a good deal of our team discussing collaborative spaces and pedagogy. Senior lecturer Peter Dourmashkin gave us a tour of their TEAL Lab (Technology Enabled Active Learning), where students and professors work on demonstrations and problem sets. We learned that the white board is the technology of choice and that group work is the new normal at MIT.
After lunch in the Gerry designed Stata Building we met with Professor Robert Jaffe in the Center for Theoretical Physics. We were fascinated by the intentional design of the Center, the emphasis on collaboration, and the abundance of chalkboards. Professor Jaffe explained how they built common areas outside of offices so that people could move easily between the public and private, and between relaxing and problem solving. They had couches with chalkboards behind them for people to work on problems together. We were impressed that every space was designed with the student in mind.
Our team is beginning the process of looking into redesigning our science, math and technology spaces to inspire more collaboration across disciplines. We have started our review of our curriculum and we are excited to bring together the many ideas we have been developing over the last few years.How inspiring it was to be in the same halls where some of the greatest advances in science have taken place!