Earth to Freshmen
This fall MIT introduced a freshman program called Terrascope. Students enrolled in the year-long program take two unique classes that were designed to help freshmen apply knowledge from their core science courses to solving a complex, earth-systems-based problem.
Led by Sallie Chisholm of the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Biology, and Kip Hodges PhD ‘82 of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Terrascope is part of MIT’s new Earth System Initiative. The initiative combines science and engineering to heighten understanding of the ways Earth and its inhabitants affect one another.
Hodges says Terrascope grew out of Solving Complex Problems, a course he developed in 2000, which brings project-based learning to the freshman curriculum. Each year’s class explores a specific problem in detail, studying case histories and developing creative solutions. This year students have been asked to develop a way to monitor the Amazon rain forest. In the spring the freshmen will continue with Introduction to Earth System Science and Engineering, in which they will design and build computer simulations and experimental tools to implement their monitoring solutions.