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Public lecture – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
October 3, 2016
Gary and Sylvia will present a public lecture based on the book Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom at the Institute of Mathematics and Informatics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Making: A Way of Learning
Learning outside of school is being transformed by the trends of tinkering, maker culture and personal fabrication. Educators need to be mindful of this major shift in digital learning, married to craft traditions, and student agency to create productive contexts for learning.
The Maker ethos of constructionism, or learning-by-making through first-hand experience will be explored in the context of projects using a range of analog and digital “construction” materials. Children can now use technology to create and solve their own problems. Affordable new tools and materials, such as 3-D printers, laser cutters, Arduino microntrollers, MaKey MaKey construction kits, conductive paint and wearable computing components allow students to go farther than was imagined just a few years ago. Junk, high-tech gear, art supplies and engineering principles collide to expand human potential.
Art and science converge and are amplified by computing. When the artificial boundaries between subject areas are blurred and every student requires the same process skills and tools, the distinction between vocational and academic education are obliterated. In order for schools to seize the opportunities afforded by this “Maker” spirit, educators need more than awareness that the world is changing. They need to develop new skills and redesign classroom environments to support learner-centered practices in order to prepare kids to solve problems their teachers never anticipated.
About Gary Stager, Ph.D.
Gary Stager is one of the world’s leading experts and advocates for computer programming, robotics and learning-by-doing in classrooms. In 1990, Dr. Stager led professional development in the world’s first laptop schools and played a major role in the early days of online education. In addition to being a popular keynote speaker at some of the world’s most prestigious education conferences, Gary is a journalist, teacher educator, consultant, professor, software developer, publisher, and school administrator. An elementary teacher by training, he has taught students from preschool through doctoral studies. Dr. Stager is the also founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute for educators.
Dr. Stager is co-author of Invent To Learn – Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, called the “bible of the maker movement in schools,” by Larry Magid of CBS and The San Jose Mercury News.
When Jean Piaget wanted to better understand how children learn mathematics, he hired Seymour Papert. When Dr. Papert wanted to create a high-tech alternative learning environment for incarcerated at-risk teens, he hired Gary Stager. This work was the basis for Gary’s doctoral dissertation and documented Papert’s most-recent institutional research project.
When not on the road speaking or consulting, Dr. Stager spent the past two years as the Special Assistant to the Head of School for Innovation at The Willows Community School in Culver City, California. Dr. Stager’s work has earned a Ph.D. in Science and Mathematics Education and a Grammy Award. Gary is also on the advisory board of the NSF-funded project, BJC4NYC: Bringing a Rigorous Computer Science Principles Course to the Largest School System in the US.
About Sylvia Martinez
Sylvia works in schools around the world to bring the power of authentic learning into classrooms, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects. Sylvia speaks, writes, and advocates for student-centered project-based learning, gender equity in STEM, computer programming, and life-long learning. She is also President of Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, a publishing company dedicated to bringing books about constructionist learning by educators to educators.
Prior to co-authoring Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, Sylvia was President of Generation YES, a non-profit with a mission of empowering young people to improve their schools and communities with modern technology. Before that, Sylvia was in charge of product development at several software publishers, designing and creating video games and educational software. Sylvia also enjoyed a career in aerospace engineering as a senior scientist on the GPS navigational satellite system research and development. She holds a masters in educational technology and a bachelors in electrical engineering.