Lifelong Kindergarten

Mitchel Resnick, MIT Media Lab

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University February 16, 2001

I'll discuss why kindergarten is one of the few success stories of our educational system -- and how new technologies can help us extend the successful "kindergarten approach" to learners of all ages. I will describe some of the "computational construction kits" that we have developed at the MIT Media Lab, and discuss how these kits (like the blocks and fingerpaint of kindergarten) can expand the range of what people can design and create -- and what they learn in the process. I will also discuss some new learning contexts (such as Computer Clubhouses) where we are trying out our ideas.

Mitchel Resnick, associate professor at the MIT Media Laboratory, develops new technological tools and toys in an effort to help people (particularly children) learn new things in new ways. Resnick led the development of the ideas and technologies underlying the LEGO Mindstorms robotics construction kit. He has also led the development of several projects (including StarLogo software and the Virtual Fishtank museum exhibit) designed to help people learn about complex systems and emergent phenomena. He co-founded the Computer Clubhouse, a network of after-school learning centers for youth from under-served communities. Resnick earned a BA in physics at Princeton University (1978), and MS and PhD degrees in computer science at MIT (1988, 1992). He worked for five years as a science/technology journalist for Business Week magazine, and he has consulted widely on the uses of computers in education. Resnick was awarded a National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award in 1993. He is author of the book Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams, published by MIT Press in 1994.

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