Taking MIT Classes For FREE

This week we got my son’s scores from the standardized test that public school students take each spring in California, My husband, son and I were discouraged by his chemistry score.

Since Ben thinks he wants to be an engineer, he’s particularly not happy. His experiential chemistry class last year offered lots of fun moments. The 10th graders created their own sports drink (one batch melted a plastic spoon) and they built hot air balloons, as well as workable cameras. It’s now seems clear, however, that some of this fun jeopardized the learning,

So what to do?

One obvious solution is for Ben to take a chemistry class at one of our local community colleges. When my daughter couldn’t squeeze physics into her high school schedule as a senior, she attended a physics class at a two-year school and it worked out great. What’s more, she got three or four hours of college credit.

Another idea is to have Ben take an introductory chemistry class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


This isn’t as far fetched as it might seem. MIT has posted all its courses on the Internet. That’s roughly 1,800 classes that typically come with detailed lecture notes, syllabuses, exams and answers and, in some cases, videos of the classes.

Thanks to MIT’s ambitious project, which was first tried as a pilot project six years ago, anyone can become a virtual student at MIT for free.

On the site, you’ll find lots of fascinating classes. One that caught my eye was a course, which included field video, that taught students how to design better land mine detection equipment. Another course, Practical Electronics explains how you can build a wide range of electronic devices.

MIT has also made it easy for high school students and their teachers to find introductory college courses in such disciplines as biology, chemistry, math, languages and writing that would be helpful to them. The university has also selected relevant material from MIT’s introductory courses to support students as they study and educators as they teach a variety of Advanced Placement classes.

In case you’re wondering, you can’t obtain college credit through the MIT program.

To take a tour of MITOpenCourseWare and learn more of the educational opportunities just click here.

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