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Seymour Papert


If you used LOGO as a kid, or donated to (or received a computer from) the One Laptop per Child nonprofit, or built anything with a LEGO Mindstorm robotics kit, you owe thanks to Seymour Papert, deceased. His fields were child development, artificial intelligence, and educational technologies. After earning his second doctorate in math, he worked with Jean Piaget, clinical psychiatrist and pioneer in child development, and used the experience to help form his version of the constructionist theory of learning, which advocates student-centered, discovery learning where students use information that they already know to acquire more knowledge. He also cofounded, with Marvin Minsky, the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT, and was a founding faculty member of MIT’s Media Lab. LOGO, the programming language that Papert developed to enable children to use computers to learn, came from the intersection of his interests. LEGO, a corporate sponsor of the Media Lab, named its Mindstorm robotics kits after Papert’s seminal book Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas. Mitchel Resnick, who heads the Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten research group, said, “For so many of us, Seymour fundamentally changed the way we think about learning, the way we think about children, and the way we think about technology.”


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