Professional Development

Consulting, Professional Development, Keynotes, Teacher Workshops, Parent/Student/Community Events

In addition to this book and our world-class summer institute, Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez will come to you! We offer keynote addresses, workshops, and consulting services customized to meet the needs of your institution, community, or conference. Gary and Sylvia are expert educators with decades of experience in professional development, strategic planning, makerspace design, and classroom-based mentoring. (Current list of scheduled events)

TMI robot

Educator Workshops – Piaget teaches us that knowledge is a consequence of experience. Therefore, any understanding of making and invention or ability to implement it effectively must be grounded in personal experience. All Invent To Learn workshops are hands-on experiences that showcase the power of making, tinkering, and engineering.

Parent & Family Workshops – Invent To Learn has experience leading “maker” workshops for parents and kids around the world. Click here for information on hosting a workshop for your community.

Consulting  – The authors of Invent To Learn, Dr. Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez, have decades of experience helping schools realize the potential of learning with modern technology and have worked with leading corporations interested in developing products for the school market. Our consulting services include: technology audits, curriculum development, designing learning environments, mentoring, conference planning, speaker series organization, product development, sales, and marketing.

Events – Your event is unique and so are our presentations. We will work with you to make sure that the keynote or presentation meets the needs of your audience – teachers, parents, school board members, students, or administrators.

Keynote and workshop topics – The following are a few of the keynote and workshop topics available. Also available: parent presentations, student/parent makerdays, community meetings, or leadership events.

For more information, email Please include type (workshop, keynote, consulting, etc.), approximate dates, location, and any additional details. We’ll get back to you ASAP!

Professional Development Topics


(1-3 days)

Gary Stager

Sylvia Martinez

new tiny dingbat

Invent To Learn  (Full-Day Workshop)

Join colleagues for a day of hard fun and problem solving — where computing meets tinkering and design. The workshop begins with the case for project-based learning, making, tinkering, and engineering. Next, we will discuss strategies for effective prompt-setting. You will view examples of children engaged in complex problem solving with new game-changing technologies and identify lessons for your own classroom practice. Powerful ideas from the Reggio Emilia Approach, breakthroughs in science education, and the global maker movement combine to create rich learning experiences.

Participants will have the chance to tinker with a range of exciting new low- and high-tech construction materials that can really amplify the potential of your students. The day culminates in the planning of a classroom project based on the TMI (Think-Make-Improve) design model.

You will learn:

  • How new tools and technology can reinvigorate Project-Based Learning
  • Best classroom practices for integrating maker technology
  • How to plan engaging projects based on the TMI design model
  • How to choose the technologies with the maximum learning impact
  • How to make the case for making, tinkering, and engineering

Fabrication with cardboard and found materials, squishy electronic circuits, wearable computing, Arduino, robotics, conductive paint, and computer programming are all on the menu.

Bring a laptop and your imagination. We’ll supply the rest (craft materials, art supplies, construction elements). Invention is the mother of learning!

This workshop is suitable for all grades and subject areas.

(Groups of more than 30 participants may require an additional facilitator.) Invent To Learn books may be purchased at a discount to be used in conjunction with the workshop.

Making, Love, and Learning (Gary Stager Keynote)

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 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..

Making School Reform (Gary Stager Keynote)

The social and technological revolution known as the maker movement offers unprecedented opportunities to learn and amplify human potential. Making inspires education reform and schools require substantive change in order to maximize the affordances of learning through firsthand experience. Examples of making, tinkering and engineering, in and out of the classroom, will be shared in order to address five critical areas of focus for those interested in leveraging the maker movement to make schools more productive contexts for learning.

The five big ideas include:

  1. Elevated expectations for literacy
  2. A new mathematical diet for children
  3. Shaping the learning environment
  4. Kid power
  5. Continuous teacher growth

A Global Revolution Goes to School: The Maker Movement (Sylvia Martinez Keynote)
The Maker Movement is a revolutionary global collaboration of people learning to solve problems with modern tools and technology. Adults and children are combining new technologies and timeless craft traditions to create exciting projects and control their world. The implications are profound for schools and districts concerned with engaging students, maintaining relevance, and preparing children to solve problems unanticipated by the curriculum. The technological game-changers of 3D printing, physical computing and computer science require and fuel transformations in the learning environment. K-12 educators can adapt the powerful technology and “can do” maker ethos to revitalize learner-centered teaching and learning in all subject areas.

Girls & STEM: Inclusion, Equity, and Action (Sylvia Martinez Keynote or hands-on workshop)
Are there ways that work to interest more girls in STEM, and keep them interested? How can K-12 schools  and informal learning organizations address a gender disparity problem that impacts not just schools, but colleges, jobs, and every walk of life? This session will explore research, resources, and best practices to involve girls of all ages in STEM. Participants will learn about the potential to bring new tools and technology to learning spaces to support hands-on learning across all grades and curriculum – plus areas that are of particular interest to girls, such as inventions that help people, sewable electronics, e-textiles, bio-materials, citizen science, and community projects. Hands-on projects and tools can engage girls (and all learners) in STEM activities that matter. We will explore how the collaborative, tinkering nature of global revolutions like the maker movement, open source, and project-based learning dovetails with girls ability to work collaboratively and in a connected way.

Creating a culture  of inclusion and equity goes well beyond the lessons in a classroom or buying the right tools and technology. Culture, both in schools and organizations, must be co-created and supported in multiple ways and over the long term. It is not just a once a year training, or one-time special opportunities for girls.

Where Do I Start? Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom or Makerspace (Sylvia Martinez featured session)
Want to get started with “making” in the classroom? This session will explore learning by doing with a wide range of new materials and technologies that support STEM, STEAM, and other subjects. We will discuss tinkering, design thinking, genius hour, PBL and other classroom frameworks that support hands-on, minds-on learning for all grade levels. Options and ideas for the best starter purchases, makerspace design, and where to find free and low cost supplies will be shared.

This is an introductory session and is often presented as a follow up to a Maker Keynote.

PBL Gets a “Make”-Over – Prompts, Scaffolding, and Assessment for the Maker Classroom (Sylvia Martinez featured session)
Of course students should have powerful hands-on project-based experiences in the classroom – but how does that happen? This session will explore how to design engaging prompts with helpful (but not TOO helpful) scaffolding. We will also discuss how to manage the project process when students are using cutting edge technology integrated with iterative design. Participants will learn about new research on assessment for projects and real classroom practices with students using modern technology and materials.

This more advanced session is an excellent follow up to a Maker Keynote.

Leading the Change and Making the Case for Making in the Classroom (Sylvia Martinez Keynote or Session)
The global phenomena of the Maker Movement is coming to schools and classrooms across the country. It brings a fresh perspective and new tools that drive authentic learning and meaningful assessment.   This session will provide resources and best practices for how to make the case for making in the classroom that is sustainable and effective. Learn how to put the conditions in place to integrate meaningful making into existing classes for maximum results school or district-wide.

The Learning Revolution You Can’t Afford to Miss  (Gary Stager Keynote)
Learning outside of school is being transformed by several trends based on learning by firsthand experience. Several technological game changers are reanimating active learning, tinkering and apprenticeship. Hundreds of thousands and children and adults are coming together to celebrate creativity, ingenuity and invention in the context of projects using a range of analog and digital “construction” materials. For school leaders, the immediate challenge is to create productive contexts for learning where there are greater opportunities for inquiry, project-based learning and student leadership, regardless of gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status. When the artificial boundaries between subject areas are blurred and every student requires the same process skills and access to tools, the distinction between vocational and academic education must be obliterated.

In order for schools to seize the opportunities afforded by rapidly expanding “maker” movement, 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. New curricular diets may need to be created. School only serves 21st Century learners when it prepares them to solve problems that their teachers have yet to anticipate.

In this provocative keynote, Dr. Stager will provide examples innovative classroom practices and examples of students learning by doing with active knowledge construction. Advice for how schools may join the maker movement will be shared as well.

Electrifying Children’s Mathematics  (Gary Stager Keynote, Workshop or Online Course)
There may be no greater gap between a discipline and the teaching done in its name than when the beauty, power and mystery of mathematics become math instruction. One can only begin to address the systemic challenges of math education by understanding the nature of mathematics and the power of computing. Nearly 100 years of efforts to increase achievement with unchanged curricular content continues to fail spectacularly; yet, we do not change course. Surely, the widespread availability of computational technology demands new pedagogical approaches and a new diet of mathematics.

This keynote/workshop moves beyond the goal of making math instruction engaging for children by providing educators with authentic mathematical thinking experiences. Such experiences acknowledge the role computers play in mathematics and society’s increasing demand for computational thinking. Project-based approaches with mathematics at the center of the activity will be explored. Traditional concepts such as numeracy, geometry, probability and graphing will be investigated in addition to exciting new branches of mathematics rarely found in the primary grades.

This keynote/workshop is designed for teachers of grades K-8. It may also be offered as an ongoing course with a greater emphasis on curriculum development and action research.

Digital Reggio: Where Tinkering & Engineering Meet Progressive Education  (Gary Stager Full-Day Workshop)
Participants will learn how the use of computational and constructive technology may be used in a fashion consistent with the principles of the Reggio Emilia approach Participants will explore how computers and robotics elements may be combined with traditional materials for inquiry-based knowledge construction by young children. Such digital materials expand the “hundred languages of learners.” Participants will expand their notions of what is possible with technology and young children as a means to construct knowledge, express creativity and amplify the potential of each young learner.

Invent to Learn with the micro:bit  (Full-Day Workshop)new tiny dingbat

Explore computational thinking, computer programming, engineering, and electronics with the powerful, popular, user-friendly, and affordable BBC micro:bit.

Participants in this one-of-a-kind workshop will enjoy hands-on projects suitable for beginners or veterans. Leave with everything you need to create exciting learning adventures for students!

Materials, including micro:bits and books, may be included in this workshop.

Wearable Computing new tiny dingbat
(Gary Stager or Sylvia Martinez Full-Day Workshop)
An LED, battery, and conductive thread can bring principles of electronics and engineering to learners of all ages. Interactive jewelry, bookmarks, and stuffed toys become a vehicle for making powerful ideas accessible to a diverse population of learners. More experienced participants may combine computer science with these “soft circuits” or “e-Textiles” to make singing suffer animals, animated t-shirts, jackets with directional signals, or backpacks with burglar alarms with the addition of the Lilypad Arduino or Flora microcontroller. Design, STEM, arts, and crafts come to life in this fun and exciting workshop!

Recycling and Robotics(Gary Stager or Sylvia Martinez Full-Day Workshop)

new tiny dingbat

This workshop uses the incredible Hummingbird Robotics Kit to show how a powerful and easy-to-use microntroller designed for the classroom, common electronic parts (motors, lights, sensors) may be combined with recycled “found” materials and craft supplies to create unique interactive robots from Kindergarten thru high school.  Scratch and Snap! programming brings these creations to life. No experience is required to become a master robotics engineer! Cross-curricular project ideas will be shared.

new tiny dingbatMaking and Learning in the Early Years 
(Gary Stager full-day workshop)

Young children are natural inventors, tinkerers, and makers. This workshop builds upon the natural inclinations of young children by adding new “technological colors” to their crayon box. littleBits, Scratch, Turtle Art, Makedo, Makey Makey, Hummingbird robotics kits, LEGO WeDo, soft circuits and more can all enrich the learning process. Timeless craft traditions and recycled junk combine with emerging technology to create a greater range, breadth, and depth of opportunities for learning by doing. Strategies for effective scaffolding, classroom organization, and the use of exciting new technologies in a developmentally appropriate fashion will be discussed. Participants in this workshop will learn how such modern knowledge construction projects are wholly consistent with the best early childhood traditions and support current standards. Dr. Stager is a certified preschool thru eighth grade teacher and an expert in the Reggio Emilia approach.

new tiny dingbat

Workshop, Speaker, or Consulting Request

Email your request to Please include type (workshop, keynote, consulting, etc.), approximate dates, location, and any additional details. We’ll get back to you ASAP!