Funded by Euan Baird, the SEED Foundation, and Stanford, 2008-2012
A FabLab is a small-scale digital workshop equipped with computer-controlled tools, such as laser-cutters, routing machines, 3D scanners, 3D milling machines, and programming tools. In a FabLab, you can "make almost anything,", in other words, create different types of projects and products. FabLabs were invented by Prof. Neil Gershenfeld at MIT, and despite the potential impact of FabLabs in education, they are mostly focused on adults, entrepreneuruship, and product design. The FabLab@School, created by Prof. Paulo Blikstein at Stanford University, was created to address that issue. It is a new type of FabLab especially designed for school and children, with several special characteristics. We are taking cuttting edge fabrication labs and adapting them to schools, establishing a worldwide network of labs to share ideas and projects. The first of such labs just opened in June 2011 in a public school in Moscow, and more are underway.
Lemann Center for Entrepreneurship and Educational Innovation In Brazil
Funded by the Lemann Foundation
Few analysts agree on what makes education systems effective, but on one point there is near unanimity: improving education is extremely complex—no single solution suffices. The complexity of this landscape leaves an emerging country with two options: to blindly import models from a foreign country, which rarely works in education, or to invent its own model, selectively incorporating the best practices in the world into its own cultural and socio-economic reality. The success of Brazil’s efforts in promoting a quantum leap in its educational system is tied to attracting the best and the brightest in all of those fields of activity to the educational ecosystem. We need to reach out to economists, MBAs, engineers, social scientists, and neuroscientists, give them world-class training, connect them with a strong sense of purpose, and inspire them with a robust vision about educational change.
The Lemann Center will offer MA, MBA, and PhD scholarships to Brazilian students, as well as host visiting scholar, promote events, and conduct cutting-edge research on educational policy, technology, and educational innovation.
NSF CAREER Project: Bifocal Modeling
Funded by a National Science Fundation DRK-12 Grant, 2010-2014 and a NSF CAREER Grant, 2011-2015.
Funded by a Google Faculty Award, 2010-2011
Funded by the Levin Fund, Stanford University, 2010-2011
Climate change is one of the most challenging and complex events in human history, potentially affecting every aspect of our lives. However, a major impact has gone mostly unnoticed: it brought mathematics and science back to the forefront of public discourse. Who would have expected, five years ago, that carbon dioxide would be a household name, or that results of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would be as anticipated as a sitcom season finale? Generation Eco combines environmental awareness, global collaboration, and innovation. Students will study the deep math and science behind everyday actions, design working solutions for climate change, and share their ideas globally. Using sophisticated computer-based tools, they will complete inquiry-based projects and develop prototypes with colleagues throughout the global GECO community.
The purpose of this project is to train K-12 students to develop the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind to actively participate and understand the challenges of sustainability in the age of climate change, with a special focus on using computational technologies as data-collection and modeling tools – in other words, train students for computational ecoliteracy, in three steps: (1) collect data, (2) build scientific models, and (3) design solutions. Learners will use advanced technologies, such as electronic sensors, GPS-enabled devices, and data-loggers to rigorously measure and collect data about different aspects of everyday behaviors. Then, using computer simulation tools normally only available to college or graduate students, such as agent-based modeling and system dynamics tools, they will analyze and build scientific models of those behaviors and their environmental impact. Finally, using computer programming, robotics, digital media, and cutting-edge rapid-prototyping equipment, students will design devices, behaviors, or media campaigns to address the main issues emerging from their research.
Download the 1-page summary of the project (PDF)
Funded by an AT&T Fellowship, 2010-1013
Politicians, educators, business leaders, and researchers are unanimous to state that we need to redesign schools to teach the so-called 21st century skills: creativity, innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, collaboration, among others. None of those skills are easily measured using current assessment techniques, such as multiple choice tests or even portfolios – and, as Lord Kelvin famously said, “if you can't measure it, you can't improve it.” As a result, our schools are paralyzed by the push to teach new skills, and the lack of reliable ways to assess those skills. One of the difficulties is that current assessment instruments are based on end products (an exam, a project, a portfolio), and not on processes (the actual cognitive and intellectual development while performing a learning activity), due to the intrinsic difficulties in capturing detailed process data for large numbers of students. However, new sensing and data mining technologies could make it possible to capture and analyze massive amounts of process data of classroom activities. This project investigates the use of biosensing, signal- and image-processing, and machine learning to explore multidimensional process-based student assessments.
The $30 Science & Robotics Lab: a Low Cost, Open Source Platform For Hands-on Scientific Exploration
Funded by a Google Faculty Award, 2010-2011
Scientific literacy requires exposure to hands-on scientific tools, but those tools are prohibitively expensive for most schools, particularly in high-need areas. The $30 Science & Robotics Lab project purports to give children and schools a low cost, powerful toolkit for hands-on science and robotics. Being open-source and inexpensive will allow students to even take home their own science lab and continue their school work throughout the day. Having a "take home" science toolkit will allow students to explore their own world with scientific eyes, and learn about physics, chemistry, environmental science, mathematics, electronics, programming, and more -- in real-life contexts. Universities in the US and Thailand will collaborate to develop a hardware platform, low-cost scientific sensors, learning activities, and a website for collaborative scientific projects. This project will use the GoGo Board framework, a hardware platform for robotics designed from the ground-up to be low-cost and user-friendly for children.
Learning Fabrication Lab and Stanford Makers' Club
Funded by Stanford University, 2009-2011
The main goal of the Stanford Makers' Club is to bring together researchers and students interested in education, cognition, product design and prototyping.
more information at the Stanford Makers Club website (here).
SLATE (System for Learning and Assessment Through Tanglble and Exploration)
Tiffany Tseng, Coram Bryant, and Paulo Blikstein
SLATE combines tangible toolkits with an interactive display to engage children in hands-on learning. By arranging magnetic pieces in different configurations on the vertical screen, children solve challenges and create solutions that subsequent children can view and learn from. Designs are automatically documented using a rear-mounted image detection system, which enables post-hoc assessment and reflection. With our latest toolkit, Mechanix, children build Rube-Goldberg designs composed of simple machine components. We are in the process of developing new toolkits for other subject areas (from the SLATE website)
Multiplexed Collaborative Learning
Funded by the LIFE Science of Learning Center (NSF), 2010-1014
Agent-based modeling has been extensively used by scientists to study complex systems. Participatory simulations are similar to agent-based models except that humans play the role of the virtual agents. The Bifocal modeling approach uses sensors to gather data about the real-world phenomena being modeled and uses that information to affect the model. In this work, we are interested in automatically extracting, analyzing and modeling group behaviors in problem solving. Combining these three systems into one unified platform would be useful for those purposes, since it would facilitate a synthesis of their main affordances: understanding the role of locality, mapping human action to emergent behaviors, and controlling embedded physical objects in noisy environments while receiving sensory feedback. We will demonstrate a technological platform based on the NetLogo/HubNet architecture that supports simulated agents, participatory agents and physical agents. We place this platform within a more general framework that we call Human, Embedded and Virtual agents in Mediation (HEV-M). We have run several studies using an instantiation of this platform that consists of a robot-car with four users who navigate a maze. We believe that this tool has potential for three main reasons (1) it facilitates logging of participant’s actions, so as to identify patterns, (2) it offers researchers in the field of computer-supported collaborative learning an easy-to-use tool to design engaging collaborative learning activities and, (3) it foregrounds the role of individual actions within the accomplishment of a collective goal, highlighting the connections between simple individual actions and the resultant macroscopic behaviors of the system.
Funded by a National Science Foundation EAGER Grant, 2010-2011
This project proposes to improve the ability for educators to effectively find and leverage existing curricular materials. While many previous efforts have attempted to build repositories of course materials, these efforts have been hampered by factors such as a lack of efficient search facilities, a dearth of available/stored materials, an inability to find quality materials, or the user perception of commercial interest in the repository. This project seeks to develop a conduit by which educational materials can be searched, rated, and archived. The overall goal is to create a framework to address four critical issues that have hampered the utility of such repositories thus far: a better search interface, easily usable by computing teachers (especially K-12 teachers), a critical mass of materials, a rating mechanism by teachers, and a system that will appeal to teachers. To reiterate, the goal in this work is not simply to create yet another repository of educational materials. Rather this project seeks to address the shortcomings of existing repositories by providing the appropriate affordances for search (easy accessibility from general search engines) and user feedback/ratings. Moreover, by proactively seeking an initial set of content, this project can help to break the lack-of-content/lack-of-usage cycle that plagues most existing systems. This Eager project proposes to develop a prototype along these lines with enough content to be a proof-of-concept for such a system. Based on initial results and usage profiles, this project can can lay a foundation for how to best proceed in making such a system more broadly used by the computing educational community.
Project's old website
Northwestern University Projects (2003-2009)
Bifocal Modeling (formerly Hybrid Modeling/NetLogoLab)
Robotics and simulators for medical education
Independent study with Professor Carla Pugh, from Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine. We are investigating how expert and novice doctors perform medical examinations, using mannequins equipped with various sensors. Doctors are also interviewed and answer a questionnaire about their previous experience. From this data, we are trying to identify patterns in both profiles (expert and novice), and creating new technological tools and learning environments for medical students to learn how to perform medical exams.
Teacher's mental models of the learners' minds
MIT Media Lab Projects (2000-2003)
The city that we want (A cidade que a gente quer)
This project, conducted together with the Secretary of Education of São Paulo, Agência Estado and the Bradesco Foundation, is introducing new ideas and technologies in the Brazilian public and non-profit education system, involving more than 50 schools. The main idea is to have children identify the problems in their community, design solutions using multiple expressive technologies and computational technology and implement the changes in partnership with the local government or community groups.
Linux and the Open Source movement proved that there are other ways to provide technology to people. The commercial, corporate, centralized model is not the only one. Departing from our experience working in developing countries such as Thailand and Brazil, we envisioned a new way of putting technology in the hands of students at a low cost. The Gogo Board framework is a concrete step towards providing sustainable, low cost computational technologies to low-income areas. The Board itself, designed by Arnan Sipitakiat at MIT, costs approximately 5 times less than most commercial products, and can be assembled locally with components found in local stores in Brazil, USA or Thailand. In more than 50 Brazilian schools, we are providing low-cost, open-source digital equipment to children, schools and non-formal learning environments. Co-developing technologies with local partners is one viable alternative for introducing digital technologies without creating even more dependency.
Official website: http://www.gogoboard.org
Documents in Portuguese:
Comandos da Placa GoGo para o Imagine Logo
Como fazer sensores
How can we make technology available to all children? Expensive commercial toolkits are certainly not the answer, especially in developing countries, where they can cost more than the average salary of a teacher. Together with low-cost, open-source devices as the Gogo board, we developed new methodologies to work with found and scrap materials, broken electronic equipment, broken toys, and transforming them into new, expressive projects conceived by the kids and teachers. We have been working for more than three years with the Secretariat of Education of São Paulo (Brazil), as well as the Bradesco Foundation, within the "City that we want" project, where children are building models and solutions for their city using low-cost materials.
One of the results of this work, conducted together with Arnan Sipitakiat (the designer of the Gogo Board), is that it has made possible for more than 3,000 students from public school in Brazil to have contact with robotics and computer programming.
Coordinated by Seymour Papert and David Cavallo, the Learning Hub project envisions to form a global network innovative educational experiences and build critical mass towards larger-scale change in educational.
Read the paper-manifest on the Learning Hubs: English (PDF) and Spanish (PDF)
Could we make a device for people to build computation with their own hands? To compute, all we need are boolean operations: this project implemented them without electricity, but with water. This project appeared on Slashdot.com in 2003, and had thousands of pageviews at that time. It has been used in some universities across the US for teaching undergraduates about digital logic.
University of São Paulo (1995-2000)
Monte Carlo or the meaning of life (Monte Carlo ou o sentido da vida)
Two Provost Research Grants awarded
Special report on the University of São Paulo Newspaper
Multimedia project consisting of a thesis, 30-minute documentary, CD-ROM and website, about computer modeling of the behavior of materials (grain growth in metals).
Official website: http://www.pmt.usp.br/paulob/montecarlo
Other projects and endeavors
Engineer 2001 (1999-2000)
Anchor of the "Engineer 2001" TV series, a project funded by the Brazilian government and coordinated by the Vanzolini Foundation (USP) for reshaping the teaching and learning of engineering in Brazil. (Engenheiro 2001)
Official website: http://www.engenheiro2001.org.br/
Conception and direction of this distance learning course for professional website developers. This innovative product was the most succesful commercial product in Brazil in its field, with more than 6.000 students in just six months.
More about it at www.tecnokit.com.br
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