Lifelong Kindergarten
Engaging people in creative learning experiences.
The Lifelong Kindergarten group is sowing the seeds for a more creative society. We develop new technologies that, in the spirit of the blocks and fingerpaint of kindergarten, engage people in creative learning experiences. Our ultimate goal is a world full of playfully creative people, who are constantly inventing new possibilities for themselves and their communities.

Research Projects

  • A-pops

    Jennifer Groff

    A design project done in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab and the Laboratorio para la Ciudad (Laboratory for the City), Mexico City's experimental office for civic innovation and urban creativity, A-pops is a networked learning experience across Mexico City that supports young learners in engaging in emergent and playful opportunities in and beyond their local communities. In line with the "Playful City" goal, this project aims to embed playful learning experiences across Mexico City that are creative, collaborative, and public, by leveraging existing public spaces throughout neighborhoods and micro-communities across the city. By embedding a variety of playful learning experiences across a variety of locations, a wide range of learners have the ability to easily and socially engage in transformative experiences that support key skills in design, collaboration, creativity, programming, and learner agency.

  • App Inventor

    Hal Abelson, Andrew McKinney, CSAIL, and Scheller Teacher Education Program

    App Inventor is an intuitive, visual programming environment that allows everyone, even those with no prior coding experience, to build fully functional applications for smartphones and tablets. Those new to App Inventor can have a simple first app up and running in under 30 minutes. The tool allows anyone to program more complex, impactful apps in significantly less time than with more traditional programming environments. The MIT App Inventor project seeks to democratize software development by empowering all people, especially young people, to transition from being consumers of technology to becoming creators of it. MIT students and staff, led by Professor Hal Abelson, form the nucleus of an international movement of inventors. In addition to leading educational outreach around MIT App Inventor and conducting research on its impacts, this core team maintains the free online app development environment that serves more than four million registered users.

  • Askii

    J. Philipp Schmidt, Juliana Nazaré

    Askii is an SMS-based system that allows adult learners to study for a certification exam while on their commute. When learners have a spare five minutes, they can simply text Askii to begin their customized lessons. Askii will respond with a curated set of questions and links to content that learners can study on the go. We have begun building this prototype for learners to study for the US Naturalization Exam and plan to expand to other certification courses. Askii is a prototype within the larger Making Learning Work project.

  • Build in Progress

    Tiffany Tseng and Mitchel Resnick

    Build in Progress is a platform for sharing the story of your design process. With Build in Progress, makers document as they develop their design processes, incorporating iterations along the way and getting feedback as they develop their projects.

  • Clubhouse Village

    Chris Garrity, Natalie Rusk, and Mitchel Resnick
    The Clubhouse Village is an online community that connects people at The Clubhouse Network after-school centers around the world. Through the Village, Clubhouse members and staff at more than 100 Clubhouses in 19 countries can share ideas with one another, get feedback and advice on their projects, and work together on collaborative design activities.
  • Computer Clubhouse

    Mitchel Resnick, Natalie Rusk, Chris Garrity
    At Computer Clubhouse after-school centers, young people (ages 10-18) from low-income communities learn to express themselves creatively with new technologies. Clubhouse members work on projects based on their own interests, with support from adult mentors. By creating their own animations, interactive stories, music videos, and robotic constructions, Clubhouse members become more capable, confident, and creative learners. The first Clubhouse was established in 1993, as a collaboration between the Lifelong Kindergarten group and The Computer Museum (now part of the Boston Museum of Science). Since then the network has expanded to more than 100 centers in 20 countries, serving more than 25,000 young people annually. In 2015 the Computer Clubhouse changed its name to The Clubhouse Network. The Lifelong Kindergarten group continues to develop new technologies, introduce new educational approaches, and lead professional-development workshops for Clubhouses around the world.
  • Duct Tape Network

    Leo Burd, Rachel Garber, Alisha Panjwani, and Mitchel Resnick

    The Duct Tape Network (DTN) is a series of fun, hands-on maker clubs that encourage young children (ages 7-10) to use cardboard, tape, wood, fabric, LED lights, motors, and more to bring their stories and inventions to life. We are designing an educational framework and toolkit to engage kids in the creation of things that they care about before they lose their curiosity or get pulled in by more consumer-oriented technology. Work on DTN started in 2014 as part of a collaboration with Autodesk and is now expanding to communities all around the world.

  • Family Creative Learning

    Special Interest group(s): 
    Ricarose Roque, Natalie Rusk, and Mitchel Resnick

    In Family Creative Learning, we engage parents and children in workshops to design and learn together with creative technologies, like the Scratch programming language and the MaKey MaKey invention kit. Just as children's literacy can be supported by parents reading with them, children's creativity can be supported by parents creating with them. In these workshops, we especially target families with limited access to resources and social support around technology. By promoting participation across generations, these workshops engage parents in supporting their children in becoming creators and full participants in today's digital society.

  • Learning Creative Learning

    Mitchel Resnick, Philipp Schmidt, Natalie Rusk, Grif Peterson, Katherine McConachie, Srishti Sethi, Alisha Panjwani

    Learning Creative Learning (http://learn.media.mit.edu/lcl) is an online course that introduces ideas and strategies for supporting creative learning. The course engages educators, designers, and technologists from around the world in applying creative learning tools and approaches from the MIT Media Lab. We view the course as an experimental alternative to traditional Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), putting greater emphasis on peer-to-peer learning, hands-on projects, and sustainable communities.

  • Learning with Data

    Sayamindu Dasgupta, Natalie Rusk, Mitchel Resnick

    More and more computational activities revolve around collecting, accessing, and manipulating large sets of data, but introductory approaches for learning programming typically are centered around algorithmic concepts and flow of control, not around data. Computational exploration of data, especially data-sets, has been usually restricted to predefined operations in spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel. This project builds on the Scratch programming language and environment to allow children to explore data and datasets. With the extensions provided by this project, children can build Scratch programs to not only manipulate and analyze data from online sources, but also to collect data through various means such as surveys and crowd-sourcing. This toolkit will support many different types of projects like online polls, turn-based multiplayer games, crowd-sourced stories, visualizations, information widgets, and quiz-type games.

  • Lemann Creative Learning Program

    Mitchel Resnick and Leo Burd

    The Lemann Creative Learning Program is a collaboration between the MIT Media Lab and the Lemann Foundation to foster creative learning in Brazilian public education. Established in February 2015, the program designs new technologies, support materials, and innovative initiatives to engage Brazilian public schools, afterschool centers, and families in learning practices that are more hands-on and centered on students' interests and ideas. For additional information, please contact lclp [at] media [dot] mit [dot] edu.

  • Making Learning Work

    Philipp Schmidt, Juliana Nazare, Katherine McConahie

    Improving adult learning, especially for adults who are unemployed or unable to financially support their families, is a challenge that affects the future wellbeing of millions of individuals in the US. We are working with the Joyce Foundation, employers, learning researchers, and the Media Lab community to prototype three to five new models for adult learning that involve technology innovation and behavioral insights.

  • Making with Stories

    Alisha Panjwani, Natalie Rusk, Mitchel Resnick

    We are developing a set of participatory "maker" activities to engage youth in creating tangible projects that depict stories about themselves and their worlds. These activities introduce electronics and computational tools as a medium to create, connect, express, and derive meaning from personal narratives. For example, we are offering workshops where participants design sewable circuits and bring them together to create a collaborative Story Quilt. Through the Making with Stories project we are exploring how story-based pedagogy can inspire youth participation in arts and engineering within formal and informal learning environments.

  • Media Lab Digital Certificates

    Philipp Schmidt, Juliana Nazare, Katherine McConachie, Srishti Sethi, and Guy Zyskind

    The Media Lab Digital Certificates project develops software and strategies to store and manage digital credentials. Certificates are registered on the blockchain, cryptographically signed, and tamper-proof. They can be designed to represent or recognize many different achievements. Through blockchain-based credentials, we critically explore notions of social capital and reputation, empathy and gift economies, and social behavior. We issue digital credentials to Media Lab Director's Fellows and Media Lab alumni, and we are open-sourcing our code so that other organizations can start experimenting with the idea of digital certificates.

  • Media Lab Virtual Visit

    Srishti Sethi and J. Philipp Schmidt

    Media Lab Virtual Visit is intended to open up the doors of the Media Lab to people from all around the world. The visit is hosted on the Unhangout platform, a new way of running large-scale unconferences on the web that was developed at the Media Lab. It is an opportunity for students or potential collaborators to talk with current researchers at the Lab, learn about their work, and share ideas.

  • ML Open

    Philipp Schmidt and Mitchel Resnick

    ML Open creates online learning experiences that are engaging, social, and project based, in areas where the Media Lab has unique expertise, such as learning, innovation, or design. Rather than distribute content, we design activities, and let learners participate in the Media Lab's way of thinking and doing. Our first experiment was Learning Creative Learning, a course taught at the Media Lab, which attracted 24,000 participants. The tools and strategies developed by ML Open are widely applicable in educational and corporate settings.

  • Para

    Jennifer Jacobs, Mitchel Resnick, Joel Brandt, Sumit Gogia, and Radomir Mech

    Procedural representations, enabled through programming, are a powerful tool for digital illustration, but writing code conflicts with the intuitiveness and immediacy of direct manipulation. Para is a digital illustration tool that uses direct manipulation to define and edit procedural artwork. Through creating and altering vector paths, artists can define iterative distributions and parametric constraints. Para makes it easier for people to create generative artwork, and creates an intuitive workflow between manual and procedural drawing methods.

  • Peer 2 Peer University

    Philipp Schmidt, Katherine McConachie

    Peer 2 Peer University has developed "learning circles," a model for facilitating in-person study groups at community libraries. Aimed at adult learners, learning circles take advantage of libraries as public community spaces for learning. We curate open, online courses and pair learners up with their peers to foster deeper, more meaningful adult basic educational experiences.

  • Read Out Loud

    J. Philipp Schmidt and Juliana Nazare

    Read Out Loud is an application that empowers adults learning English to turn almost any reading material into an experience to help them learn. Learners can take a picture of a page of text; the app then scans in the page and presents the learner with a host of additional tools to facilitate reading. They can read the text aloud, which helps learners who are more comfortable with spoken English understand what is written. They can also select words to translate them into their native language. With this prototype, we want to give adult learners more agency to learn from material that focuses on subjects they care about, as well as increase access to English language learning material. Any book from the public library could become learning material with support in their native language. Read Out Loud is a prototype within the larger Making Learning Work project.

  • Scratch

    Mitchel Resnick, Natalie Rusk, Kasia Chmielinski, Andrew Sliwinski, Eric Schilling, Carl Bowman, Saskia Leggett, Christan Balch, Ricarose Roque, Sayamindu Dasgupta, Ray Schamp, Matt Taylor, Chris Willis-Ford, Tim Mickel, Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill, Juanita
    Scratch is a programming language and online community (http://scratch.mit.edu) that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, games, animations, and simulations—and share your creations online. As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively, while also learning important mathematical and computational ideas. Young people around the world have shared more than 10 million projects on the Scratch website, with thousands of new projects every day. (For information on who has contributed to Scratch, see the Scratch Credits page: http://scratch.mit.edu/info/credits/).
  • Scratch Data Blocks

    Sayamindu Dasgupta, Mitchel Resnick, Natalie Rusk, Benjamin Mako Hill

    Scratch Data Blocks is an NSF-funded project that extends the Scratch programming language to enable youth to analyze and visualize their own learning and participation in the Scratch online community. With Scratch Data Blocks, youth in the Scratch community can easily access, analyze, and represent data about the ways they program, share, and discuss Scratch projects.

  • Scratch Day

    Saskia Leggett, Lisa O'Brien, Kasia Chmielinski, Carl Bowman, and Mitchel Resnick
    Scratch Day (day.scratch.mit.edu) is a network of face-to-face local gatherings, on the same day in all parts of the world, where people can meet, share, and learn more about Scratch, a programming environment that enables people to create their own interactive stories, games, animations, and simulations. We believe that these types of face-to-face interactions remain essential for ensuring the accessibility and sustainability of initiatives such as Scratch. In-person interactions enable richer forms of communication among individuals, more rapid iteration of ideas, and a deeper sense of belonging and participation in a community. The first Scratch Day took place in 2009. In 2015, there were 350 events in 60 countries.
  • Scratch Extensions

    Chris Willis-Ford, Andrew Sliwinski, Sayamindu Dasgupta, Mitchel Resnick

    The Scratch extension system enables anyone to extend the Scratch programming language through custom programming blocks written in JavaScript. The extension system is designed to enable innovating on the Scratch programming language itself, in addition to innovating with it through projects. With the extension system, anyone can write custom Scratch blocks that enable others to use Scratch to program hardware devices such as the LEGO WeDo, get data from online web-services such as weather.com, and use advanced web-browser capabilities such as speech recognition.

  • ScratchJr

    Mitchel Resnick, Chris Garrity, Tim Mickel, Marina Bers, Paula Bonta, and Brian Silverman

    ScratchJr makes coding accessible to younger children (ages 5-7), enabling them to program their own interactive stories, games, and animations. To make ScratchJr developmentally appropriate for younger children, we revised the interface and provided new structures to help young children learn relevant math concepts and problem-solving strategies. ScratchJr is available as a free app for iPads, Android, and Chromebook. ScratchJr is a collaboration between the MIT Media Lab, Tufts University, and Playful Invention Company.

  • Spin

    Tiffany Tseng and Mitchel Resnick

    Spin is a photography turntable system that lets you capture how your DIY projects come together over time. With Spin, you can create GIFs and videos of your projects that you can download and share on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social network.

  • Start Making!

    Alisha Panjwani, Natalie Rusk, Jie Qi, Chris Garrity, Tiffany Tseng, Jennifer Jacobs, Mitchel Resnick

    The Lifelong Kindergarten group is collaborating with the Museum of Science in Boston to develop materials and workshops that engage young people in "maker" activities in Computer Clubhouses around the world, with support from Intel. The activities introduce youth to the basics of circuitry, coding, crafting, and engineering. In addition, graduate students are testing new maker technologies and workshops for Clubhouse staff and youth. The goal of the initiative is to help young people from under-served communities gain experience and confidence in their ability to design, create, and invent with new technologies.

  • Unhangout

    Philipp Schmidt, Drew Harry, Charlie DeTar, Srishti Sethi, and Katherine McConachie

    Unhangout is an open-source platform for running large-scale unconferences online. We use Google Hangouts to create as many small sessions as needed, and help users find others with shared interests. Think of it as a classroom with an infinite number of breakout sessions. Each event has a landing page, which we call the lobby. When participants arrive, they can see who else is there and chat with each other. The hosts can do a video welcome and introduction that gets streamed into the lobby. Participants then break out into smaller sessions (up to 10 people per session) for in-depth conversations, peer-to-peer learning, and collaboration on projects. Unhangouts are community-based learning instead of top-down information transfer.