The STAR (Software Tools for Academics and Researchers) program seeks to bridge the divide between scientific research and the classroom. Our multidisciplinary team, consisting of research-trained scientists and software engineers, collaborates with MIT faculty to design innovative and intuitive software tools for classroom use. The STAR educational tools are FREELY available. In addition to the software, the STAR web site contains educational materials that help incorporate these tools into various educational settings. The workshop highlighted two biology STAR tools: StarBiochem and StarGenetics. StarBiochem is a molecular 3D viewer that allows students to learn key concepts about the biology of molecules and proteins in an interactive manner. StarGenetics is a virtual genetics laboratory where students can simulate mating experiments and actively explore a wide array of genetics concepts.
The workshop covered the following items for each tool:
- the rationale for designing the tool
- the design process
- how to access the tool and supporting educational materials
- tour of the tool
- hands-on activity with an example exercise
- examples of how the tool is currently being used
- how to build custom exercises
About the Workshops
The main goal of these workshops was to start implementing faculty- and curriculum-development activities based on MIT’s Open Education Resources such as OpenCourseWare and Software Tools for Academics and Researchers. How can these resources be most constructively used to improve STEM courses in Haiti? How can similar resources be designed in situ by educators in Haiti and become fully functional?