MIT Team Launches High-School University Education Project in Jordan

Publication Date: 
November 24, 2008

MIT Professors Richard Larson and Walter Lewin were in Jordan during the week of November 10th launching a new MIT initiative, Blended Learning Open Source Science or Math Studies (BLOSSOMS), a joint international partnership of educators from the U.S., Jordan and Pakistan. The project is a direct outgrowth of MIT LINC 2007, an international educational conference held by MIT last October at the Dead Sea, with Her Majesty Queen Rania the official Patron. During the conference, HM Queen Rania urged the growth of a continuing partnership between MIT and educators in Jordan, including the Ministry of Education, the University of Jordan (academic host of the LINC 2007 conference), Jordan University of Science and Technology, and the Jordan Education Initiative.

The vision of the new BLOSSOMS project is to begin to develop a large, free repository of science and math interactive video modules for high school students created by gifted volunteer teachers from around the world, seeded initially by MIT faculty members and by partnering educators in Jordan and Pakistan. The goal is to develop deeper and richer skills in high school students and to enhance their critical-thinking skills. At the same time, the project aims to excite them in pursuing a science, math or engineering career. In Jordan, a further aim of the BLOSSOMS project is to build stronger ties between universities and high schools. This groundbreaking, two-year pilot project is funded at MIT by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation of California, with additional support from the Sloan Foundation of New York. The Jordan portion of the BLOSSOMS project is being funded by public-private partnerships, with universities, the government and private organizations contributing to Jordan’s portion of BLOSSOMS expenses, especially in teacher training, module production and rollout.

While in Jordan, Professors Larson and Lewin, accompanied by BLOSSOMS Project Manager, Elizabeth Murray, met with educational leaders and with professors who are planning to participate in the program. Their ambitious itinerary included meetings with HE Dr. Tayseer Al-Nahar, Minister of Education; Professor Khaled Al-Karaki, President, University of Jordan; Dr. Wajih M. Owais, President, Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST); as well as leaders from the JEI (Jordan Education Initiative) and the Royal Committee on Education. Professor Lewin gave a public lecture, “On the Birth and Death of Stars.” And Professor Larson also gave a public lecture, “Operational Research: Applying Math and Physics to Everyday Real World Problems.” Each lecture was given twice, once at JU’s King Abduallah II School for Information Technology and once at JUST. The MIT team is indebted to Ms. Rana Qubain who serves as BLOSSOMS Project Manager in Jordan. Ms. Qubain is General Manager ofInvestment World for Development and Technology (IWDT), and the project is grateful to IWDT for its contribution.