Constructionism, Duct Tape, and Preparing Children for Their Future

David D. Thornburg, PhD


Anyone who has seen the movie, Apollo 13 knows the critical role duct tape played in the successful completion of this mission. Creative problem solving in critical situations is an important skill in education as we craft environments to prepare our youth for a world of constant change. Seymour Papert's views on the importance of student projects fit well with the inquiry-driven, project-based model of education known to be of benefit to students. This dynamic presentation explores the role of technologies – including those created by students themselves – as they advance their skills in academic fields. Critical to this success is the kind of dramatic problem-solving that we all engage in when one of our projects doesn't come out exactly as planned. Duct tape is employed as a metaphor for the dynamic learning that comes when a project is “debugged.” The depth of learning that comes from refining a solution is amazing.

Topics include:
• Why constructionism is an important concept
• How constructionism fits in with other pedagogical models
• Personal computers as constructionist tools
• When things go wrong - the role of creativity in problem solving
• Thinking with duct tape
• "Duct tape" in practice

While the emphasis in this presentation is on technologies used by students, examples of problem solving using duct tape in space (since Apollo 13!) will be used to illustrate the core ideas of this dynamic presentation.

Carpe Ductum: Seize the Tape!

Presentation type... Keynote or breakout session
Audience................ Educators with interest in student creativity
Duration................. 1 hour
Handouts................ On website -

Dr. Thornburg will gladly tailor any presentation to your specific needs.