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

  • App Inventor

    Hal Abelson, Eric Klopfer, Mitchel Resnick, Andrew McKinney, CSAIL and Scheller Teacher Education Program

    App Inventor is an open-source tool that democratizes app creation. By combining LEGO-like blocks onscreen, even users with no prior programming experience can use App Inventor to create their own mobile applications. Currently, App Inventor has over 2,000,000 users and is being taught by universities, schools, and community centers worldwide. In those initiatives, students not only acquire important technology skills such as computer programming, but also have the opportunity to apply computational thinking concepts to many fields including science, health, education, business, social action, entertainment, and the arts. Work on App Inventor was initiated in Google Research by Hal Abelson and is continuing at the MIT Media Lab as part of its Center for Mobile Learning, a collaboration with the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Scheller Teacher Education Program (STEP).

  • 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 process, incorporating iterations and failures along the way and getting feedback as they develop their projects.

  • Collab Camp

    Ricarose Roque, Amos Blanton, Natalie Rusk, and Mitchel Resnick

    To foster and better understand collaboration in the Scratch Online Community, we created Collab Camp, a month-long event in which Scratch community members form teams (“collabs”) to work together on Scratch projects. Our goals include: analyzing how different organizational structures support collaboration in different ways; examining how design decisions influence the diversity of participation in collaborative activities; and studying the role of constructive feedback in creative, collaborative processes.

  • Computer Clubhouse

    Mitchel Resnick, Natalie Rusk, Chris Garrity, Alisha Panjwani
    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 Computer 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). With financial support from Intel Corporation, the network has expanded to more than 100 centers in 20 countries, serving more than 20,000 young people. The Lifelong Kindergarten group continues to develop new technologies, introduce new educational approaches, and lead professional-development workshops for Clubhouses around the world.
  • Computer Clubhouse Village

    Chris Garrity, Natalie Rusk, and Mitchel Resnick
    The Computer Clubhouse Village is an online community that connects people at Computer Clubhouse after-school centers around the world. Through the Village, Clubhouse members and staff at more than 100 Clubhouses in 20 countries can share ideas with one another, get feedback and advice on their projects, and work together on collaborative design activities.
  • DIY Cellphone

    David A. Mellis and Leah Buechley

    An exploration into the possibilities for individual construction and customization of the most ubiquitous of electronic devices, the cellphone. By creating and sharing open-source designs for the phone's circuit board and case, we hope to encourage a proliferation of personalized and diverse mobile phones. Freed from the constraints of mass production, we plan to explore diverse materials, shapes, and functions. We hope that the project will help us explore and expand the limits of do-it-yourself (DIY) practice. How close can a homemade project come to the design of a cutting-edge device? What are the economics of building a high-tech device in small quantities? Which parts are even available to individual consumers? What's required for people to customize and build their own devices?

  • DIY Devices

    David A. Mellis

    Using digital fabrication and embedded computation to allow individuals to make their own devices. This effort started by creating open-source DIY versions of common devices—speakers, radios, mice, and cellphones—each combining a custom electronic circuit board and digitally-fabricated enclosure. The current focus is on creating devices with unique functionality, aesthetics, or production processes. One early prototype is of a special-purpose internet-connected device, whose behavior can be customized by the person creating it. Another experiment explores the possibilities of automated circuit board assembly services and their implications for open-source hardware. Most importantly, we're beginning to develop resources to enable others to design and build custom devices through meaningful and educational creative processes. These efforts are still in an early stage, but we're interested in finding ways to transition from reproducing existing devices to helping people create a diverse set of new ones.

  • DressCode

    Jennifer Jacobs, Leah Buechley, and Mitchel Resnick

    DressCode is a computer-aided design and fabrication tool that combines programming with graphic drawing and manipulation, allowing novice programmers to create computationally-generated, physical artifacts. The software consists of a programming environment and a graphic-user interface design tool, as well as a custom programming language. The GUI tools allow for a unique combination of graphic drawing and computational manipulation, because the software automatically generates editable code in the programming environment that reflects the designer’s drawing actions. DressCode exports designs that are compatible with digital fabrication machines, allowing for the creation of physical artifacts. We have introduced DressCode to amateur programmers with a series of craft activities that allow them to produce functional, beautiful, and unique objects including t-shirts, jewelry, and personal accessories.

  • Family Creative Learning

    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 and 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.

  • MaKey MaKey

    Eric Rosenbaum, Jay Silver, and Mitchel Resnick

    MaKey MaKey lets you transform everyday objects into computer interfaces. Make a game pad out of Play-Doh, a musical instrument out of bananas, or any other invention you can imagine. It's a little USB device you plug into your computer, and you use it to make your own switches that act like keys on the keyboard: Make + Key = MaKey MaKey! It’s plug and play. No need for any electronics or programming skills. Since MaKey MaKey looks to your computer like a regular mouse and keyboard, it’s automatically compatible with any piece of software you can think of. It’s great for beginners tinkering and exploring, for experts prototyping and inventing, and for everybody who wants to playfully transform their world.

  • Making Learning Work

    J. Philipp Schmidt, Juliana Nazare, Srishti Sethi

    Improving adult learning, especially for adults who are unemployed or unable to financially support their families, is a challenge that affects the future well-being 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.

  • Map Scratch

    Sayamindu Dasgupta, Brian Silverman, and Mitchel Resnick

    Map Scratch is an extension of Scratch that enables kids to program with maps within their Scratch projects. With Map Scratch, kids can create interactive tours, games, and data visualizations with real-world geographical data and maps.

  • 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.

  • MelodyMorph

    Eric Rosenbaum and Mitchel Resnick

    MelodyMorph is an interface for constructing melodies and making improvised music. It removes a constraint of traditional musical instruments: a fixed mapping between space and pitch. What if you blew up the piano so you could put the keys anywhere you want? With MelodyMorph you can create a customized musical instrument, unique to the piece of music, the player, or the moment.

  • Musical Paintings

    Eric Rosenbaum and Sophia Brueckner

    Touch the painting to release its music. Slide your finger across it to play melodies, play chords with your palm, improvise a duet. We've combined traditional painting techniques with conductive paint and capacitive touch sensing. The result is a new form of visual music, combining composition and instrument into a playable score.

  • Novice Design of Interactive Products

    David A. Mellis and Mitchel Resnick

    Despite recent widespread interest in hobbyist electronics and the maker movement, the design of printed circuit boards (PCBs) remains an obscure and often intimidating activity. This project attempts to introduce PCB design and production to new audiences by creating examples, activities, and other resources that provide context and motivation for those practices. I've developed a series of interactive lights that demonstrate the creation of useable products with simple circuits. These examples introduce novices to the space of possibilities and provide them with a starting point for creating their own designs. In workshops, novices design, produce, assemble, and program their own electronic circuits. These workshops provide an entry point to understanding the way that electronic products are made and an opportunity for discussion and reflection about how more people might get involved in their production.

  • Open Learning

    Philipp Schmidt and Mitchel Resnick

    Learning for everyone, by everyone. The Open Learning project builds online learning communities that work like the web: peer-to-peer, loosely joined, open. And it works with Media Lab faculty and students to open up the magic of the Lab through online learning. Our first experiment was Learning Creative Learning, a course taught at the Media Lab, which attracted 24,000 participants. We are currently developing ideas for massive citizen science projects, engineering competitions for kids, and new physical infrastructures for learning that reclaim the library.

  • Para

    Jennifer Jacobs, Mitchel Resnick, Joel Brandt, 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, parametric constraints, and conditional behaviors. Para makes it easier for people to create generative artwork, and creates a intuitive workflow between manual and procedural drawing methods.

  • Scratch

    Mitchel Resnick, Natalie Rusk, Eric Schilling, Amos Blanton, Champika Fernando, Sayamindu Dasgupta, Ricarose Roque, Kasia Chmielinski, Shane Clements, Carl Bowman, Matt Taylor, Ray Schamp, Chris Willis-Ford, Brian Silverman, Paula Bonta
    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 six million projects on the Scratch website, with thousands of new projects every day.
  • Scratch Data Blocks

    Sayamindu Dasgupta, Mitchel Resnick, Natalie Rusk, and 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

    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 2014, there were 260 events in 56 countries.
  • Scratch Extensions

    Shane Clements, Chris Willis-Ford, Sayamindu Dasgupta, Amos Blanton, 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, Champika Fernando, Tim Mickel, Sayamindu Dasgupta, Marina Bers, Paula Bonta, and Brian Silverman

    The ScratchJr project brings the ideas and spirit of Scratch programming activities to younger children, enabling children ages five to seven to program their own interactive stories, games, and animations. To make ScratchJr developmentally appropriate for younger children, we are revising the interface and providing new structures to help young children learn core math concepts and problem-solving strategies. ScratchJr is now available as a free app for iPads (and will be available for Android soon).

  • Singing Fingers

    Eric Rosenbaum, Jay Silver, and Mitchel Resnick

    Singing Fingers allows children to fingerpaint with sound. Users paint by touching a screen with a finger, but color only emerges if a sound is made at the same time. By touching the painting again, users can play back the sound. This creates a new level of accessibility for recording, playback, and remixing of sound.

  • Start Making!

    Alisha Panjwani, Jennifer Jacobs, Tiffany Tseng, Jie Qi, David Mellis, Chris Garrity, Ricarose Roque, Natalie Rusk, 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, and Srishti Sethi

    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.