Big Ideas
Papert misses "Big Ideas" of the good old days in AI.

Seymour Papert and boy
Papert inspires Maine's bold technology plan.

Seymour Papert leading a class
Papert runs technology program for teen offenders.

Seymour Papert

Works by Papert
People laughed at Seymour Papert in the 1960s, more than half a century ago, when he vividly talked about children using computers as instruments for learning and for enhancing creativity, innovation, and "concretizing" computational thinking. The idea of an inexpensive personal computer, one for every child, like a notebook and a pencil, was then science fiction. But Papert was conducting serious research with a team of students he assembled in his capacity as a Professor at MIT, at the AI Lab (1960-80s) and at the Media Lab (1985-2000). This research led to many firsts. It was in his laboratory that children first had the chance to use the computer to write and to make graphics to represent geometrical and mathematical concepts. The Logo programming language was conceived, researched, created there, as were the first children's toys with built-in computation such as Lego-Logo. The Logo company LCSI was founded in Montreal, Canada, and the Logo Foundation was later created to inform people about Logo and to support them in their use of Logo-based software for learning and teaching.
Papert has been considered the world's foremost expert on how technology can provide new ways to learn and teach mathematics, thinking in general, and other subjects. He had inspired and partnered with teams of researchers and education practitioners who carried out educational projects on every continent, some of them in remote villages in developing countries, developed and developing cities and states, as well as colleges, universities, global corporations, and, yes, even prisons. Papert had participated in developing the most influential cutting-edge opportunities for children to participate in the digital world. His last project before his accident in Vietnam, was OLPC.
Papert served on the advisory boards of all my projects and companies. First on my doctoral committee at the MIT MediaLab, that led to our collaboration on the book Constructionism, documenting our team's first five years of research at the Epistemology & Learning Group 1985-1990. I transformed from student to colleague in 1988, and helped him run research, teach classes, guide graduate students, and get funding from grants (Apple, IBM, Nintendo, Lego, NSF). When I left MIT to start an Internet company in 1995,MaMaMedia Inc., he was excited about developing the first ever browser-based constructionist learning activities for kids on the Net, and connecting digital kids globally. He is also the genius brain behind the LEGO Mindstorms product line (which was named after his seminal book Mindstorms: Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas).
For his last 20 years of life, Papert lived in Maine, where he had founded a small laboratory called the Learning Barn, where his vision was "to develop methods of learning that are too far ahead of the times for large-scale implementation." Papert has been named distinguished professor by the University of Maine and is credited with inspiring governor King for the first statewide initiative aimed at giving a personal computer to every student of a state. In late 90s he spent a large part of his time working in the Maine Youth Center in Portland, the state's facility for teenagers convicted of serious offenses, to teach them the most important skills -- learning and thinking.
Papert's contributions go beyond the field of education. He was a mathematician and is a cofounder with Marvin Minsky of the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT and a founding faculty member of the MIT Media Lab. Papert collaborated for many years with Jean Piaget at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. 
 
Dr. Seymour Papert and MaMaMedia founder and CEO Dr. Idit Harel discuss ways to enhance children's technological fluency on MaMaMedia.com.

Related Links
 
Works by Papert  Articles, speeches, and papers by Seymour Papert.
 
MaMaMedia.com  A Web site for children and families, that has playful activities based on constructionist learning theory.
 
21st-Century Learning  Articles from the MaMaMedia Grown-Ups area about exploring the convergence of kids, technology, and learning.