invent to learn

invent to learn site


Sylvia and Gary talking about invent to learn:

sylvia and gary



young people have a remarkable capacity


kids are today



invent to learn







Completing a simple to-do list at the start and finish of a making session may also be beneficial for the learner who needs help planning or for the teacher who requires documentation of progress.


Schools would be well served by nurturing polymaths.

the opposite of play is depression.


We tried all the systems that had been tried before, then we tried our own systems and we tried some combinations that no one had ever thought of. Eventually, we flew. — Orville Wright.

try more stuff..aka @skap5

we broadly use the term “technology” to include all types of human-made systems and processes  – not in the limited sense often used in schools that equates technology with modern computational and communications devices. Technologies result when engineers apply their understanding of the natural world and of human behavior to design ways to satisfy human needs and wants. (National Research Council, 2012)

they can pass tests. Edith Ackermann says: In the practice of design, the purpose is not to represent what is out there (or model how things are) but to imagine what is not (or envision how things could be) and to bring into existence what is imagined. Creators are fabricators of possibilities embodied: They both make and make-up things!  (Ackermann, 2007)

The task was literally theoretically impossible, which made it even better.

Tinkering gives deep clues to a patient observer about thinking.

My flash of insight, 20 years later, is that perhaps we should avoid squeezing all serendipity out of STEM subjects in a quest to teach students about a “real world” that exists only in the feeble imagination of textbook publishers. Tinkering is the way that real science happens in all its messy glory.


Science is about wonder and risk and imagination, not checklists or vocabulary memorization. Alan Kay laments that much of what schools teach isn’t science at all, it’s science appreciation. (Kay, 2007)


Bricoleurs approach problem-solving by entering into a conversation with their work materials that has more the flavor of a conversation than a monologue. (Turkle & Papert, 1991)


Design in the real world is often a process of deliberate tinkering. Edith Ackermann says: Designing (projettare in Italian) can be seen as the flipside of reflective abstraction: an iterative process of mindful concretization, or materialization of ideas (concrétisation réfléchie in French). To design is to give form, or expression, to inner feelings and ideas, thus projecting them outwards, making them tangible. (Ackermann, 2007)

The politics of accountability have caused many to take leave of their senses

..whole new world of sensors, motors, lights, and peripherals can be made to obey.

perhaps tech wants us to master/use it…rather than each other…

Communicating a formal idea to the computer is also a powerful way to think about thinking.

..programming is required to bring life and intelligence to the physical artifacts a tinkerer or engineer makes.

Often, as I listened to intense conversations about the complex mathematical problems that need to be solved in developing high-end video games, I would wonder why school systems had the need to label kids with deficiencies. These programmers were obviously not “bad at math” as long as the kind of math involved played into their passions.

Like any written or spoken language, the permutations of a programing language are infinite. The best programming languages support both “baby talk” and the expression of complex ideas. Words combine to become poetry.

Complexity may be composed of simple elements, and engineering is about solving problems within constraints. We add confusion and reduce learning opportunities when we teach intricacies of the software to children at the expense of the time required to become proficient programmers.