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).

  • 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 and failures along the way and getting feedback as they develop their projects.

  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Libranet

    Philipp Schmidt, Katherine McConachie

    Libranet is a model for facilitating in-person study groups at community libraries. Aimed at adult learners, Libranet seeks to take advantage of libraries as free, open community spaces for learning. This model utilizes open, online course material and pairs it with a study group format to foster deeper, more meaningful adult basic educational experiences.

  • Making Learning Work

    J. 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 will award certificates to members of our community that are outside of the academic program. A project from the Learning Learning initiative, the certificates are registered on the blockchain, cryptographically signed, and tamper proof. These certificates can be designed to represent different contributions or recognition. What they stand for is included in the certificate. Through these objects we will critically explore notions of social capital and reputation, empathy and gift economies, and social behavior. We are also developing a blueprint/model for other organizations to start doing the same. The code is open source so that others can experiment with the idea of digital certificates. Those certificates would have no connection to the Media Lab.

  • 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 Online 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. 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, 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.

  • 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, Ricarose Roque, Sayamindu Dasgupta, Ray Schamp, Matt Taylor, Chris Willis-Ford, Juanita Buitrago, Carmelo Presicce, Moran Tsur, 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 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 2014, there were 260 events in 56 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, Marina Bers, Chris Garrity, Tim Mickel, 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 and Android. 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.