The Adventures of Gopher-cam
And other tales of high-powered technology and at risk kids

Program Description:

Since 1999 the presenter has worked in a new computer-rich multiage alternative learning environment within the state facility for adiudicated youth in Maine. The project focuses on sophisticated high-tech project development and helps to define constructionism as a strategy for educating all children in the 21st century. Exciting examples of student projects will be shared.

Session Description:

Since September 1999, the presenter has worked with Seymour Papert to develop a high-tech alternative learning environment inside the Maine Youth Center, the state facility for adjudicated teens. This multiage environment provides each student with a personal computer and access to a variety of constructive materials: MicroWorlds software; LEGO robotics; wood; electronics; video; clay and books. These students have been engaged in numerous robotics, computer programming, drama, video editing, engineering, computer repair, science and humanities projects based on their interests and their ingenuity regardless of the labels applied to them by society. This work helps define constructionism as a viable strategy for educating all children in the twenty-first century. The experience of trying to reacquaint or acquaint these previously unsuccessful students with the learning process teaches us many lessons about just at-risk our entire educational system has become. Research suggests that this work holds exciting implications for systemic school reform and increasing educational opportunities for all learners.