What does the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab do?
Our mission is to improve the teaching of science, technology engineering, and math (STEM) in schools. Everything we develop — from low-cost robotics kits to full-blown digital fabrication labs — is in support of project-based, student-centered, constructionist learning in STEM. Unlike traditional science and math education, which places great emphasis on rote memorization of facts and formulas, our focus is on invention, innovation, and collaborative problem-solving. Students in our digital fabrication labs learn science and engineering by creating inventions to solve real-world problems, and by designing scientific experiments to examine their own theories about nature.
Why does this work matter?
Innovation and collaborative problem-solving are core skills for the 21st century. Traditional STEM education has not been optimal for teaching those skills. Enabling students to build things and solve real problems brings the classroom culture into line with real-world science and engineering, and gives student a clear sense of how learning can be transformative.
Who is Paulo Blikstein?
Lab director Paulo Blikstein is an associate professor in the Columbia University Teacher’s College. He is also the founder and former director of the Lemann Center for Educational Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Brazil, a 10-year effort by the Stanford School of Education and the Lemann Foundation to foster innovation in public schools in Brazil. In July 2011, Blikstein was the recipient of the prestigious National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Award, in recognition of his work to innovate STEM education. Blikstein is co-inventor of the GoGo Board , the first open-source educational robotics platform.
For the past decade, beginning as a Masters’ student and then visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab, Blikstein has worked to bring new technologies and learning approaches to low-income schools in developing countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Senegal and Costa Rica. Blikstein completed his PhD. at the Center for Connected Learning and Computer-Based Modeling at the School of Education at Northwestern University (Chicago). He also holds degrees in metallurgical engineering and digital systems engineering from the University of São Paulo, Brazil.