What is Terrascope?

Every year, around 40 to 80 freshmen choose to join Terrascope, a first-year learning community at MIT that helps these new students transition to the crazy life at MIT. Within Terrascope, there are classes, advisors and mentors, weekly professional talks with lunch, and a wide array of fun activities. As students, we are introduced to a small community that fosters new friendships and valuable connections with staff and upperclassmen. At the heart of it all, the Terrascope Lounge is the central hub where students hang out, work on homework, and get to know each other. With a kitchen, couches, chalkboard spaces, and many wheely chairs, the Terrascope Lounge has given us a second place to call home on campus.

In the fall, students take a class called “Solving Complex Problems” where we are given a challenging “Mission” focusing on sustainability and environmental issues. This class is unique because from the first day, we are thrown into a real-world problem that does not have an answer. Moreover, we are not told how to find any kind of solution but are tasked with taking an interdisciplinary approach to answering some tough questions. We are put in charge of our project right from the start, and we have to learn how to research information, narrow our focus into an overall goal, and then write a proposal to address our mission statement. Our final deliverables include a website and a three-hour presentation and Q&A session.

Thankfully, we have fantastic mentor and undergraduate teaching fellow (UTF) support. If we ever get stuck or lost in our projects, we do have people to turn to that will give us a nudge in the right direction. One of the best parts of Terrascope is that even though it is labeled as a first-year learning community, it is a community that spans through our whole time at MIT. After completing this class, we are encouraged to meet the new freshman in the next year’s class and provide the guidance we have and still receive.

If you would like to know more about Terrascope, please click on the image below!