AI is generating quite a bit of buzz these day. Perhaps you are unaware that Constructing Modern Knowledge has AI roots and has been AI-adjacent since its inception in 2008. This July’s 15th summer institute is no exception. CMK 2024 guest speaker, Dr. Stephen Wolfram, one of the geniuses who’s technology and powerful ideas are fueling the artificial intelligence revolution, is but one example of our relevance in shaping the use of AI in education. Jaymes Dec and Gary Stager are offering a very special hands-on pre-institute workshop, Creative Computation and AI, on July 8th, the day before CMK 2024.

Skip ahead to read 5 ways CMK has roots in AI

Constructing Modern Knowledge was borne of conversations between Gary Stager and Seymour Papert about the need to create a setting where educational computing and progressive education could dance together. Papert, the father of educational computing, helped Piaget understand how children construct mathematical knowledge, was a pioneer in artificial intelligence and a founding member of the MIT Media Lab, was the co-inventor of the Logo programming language, and authored three of the most important books about learning and computing.

Fundamentally, Papert framed two competing views of education as instructionism vs. constructionism. Instructionism posits that learning is the result of having been taught. It focuses on things like, instruction, curriculum, testing, and the intervention of teachers. Constructionism is built on the Piagetian notion that knowledge is a consequence of experience and the idea that people learn by constructing knowledge through the process of making something shareable. Simply stated, the learner learns.

The same paradigm may be applied to how AI is envisioned for schools. Instructionists tout the use of AI for lesson plan writing, marking student work, teacher record keeping, and the production of instructional materials, including worksheets, quizzes, flashcards, and tests. Constructionists are unconcerned with using technology to sustain questionable instructional practices, even when they are made more efficient.

Since the 1960s, Seymour Papert and constructionists have offered a profoundly aspirational and learner-centered vision of artificial intelligence in education. Those seeking a humane learner-centered vision of AI would be wise to read Chapter 7 of Seymour Papert’s seminal book, Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas. That chapter is titled, “LOGO’s Roots: Piaget and AI”

Here are two particularly relevant passages.

5 Ways in Which CMK has its Roots in AI


The roots of CMK are in Logo, the programming language and approach to learning designed for children, primarily by Seymour Papert and CMK Senior Fellow, Cynthia Solomon. Soon after its initial creation, Logo was nurtured in the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the late 1960s and 1970s. The programming environments powering CMK projects are descendent of Logo, including: Scratch, SNAP!, Turtle Art, TurtleStitch, MakeCode, microBlocks, and Beetle Blocks.

Learn about Logo and explore a growing library of resources here.

20 Things Cover Image


Marvin Minsky, considered by many to be the “father of artificial intelligence” led a fireside chat at the first ten Constructing Modern Knowledge institutes. We were indeed spoiled to spend time in the company of one of the great minds of the past century and are grateful for Marvin’s generosity and willingness to engage educators in discussion.

Marvin Animate GIF


Dr. Stephen Wolfram, one of the world’s most significant scientists and creator of the tools powering the AI revolution returns to Constructing Modern Knowledge 2024 as a guest speaker.

If we wish for students to learn with primary source materials, teachers should learn with experts.

Learn more about Stephen Wolfram at CMK 2024 here.

Wolfram Talks at MIT


CMK Senior Fellow, Dr. Cynthia Solomon, assembled a fantastic volume of essays by AI pioneer, Marvin Minsky. Constructing Modern Knowledge Founder, Gary Stager, was honored to contribute one of the expert response essays in the book, Inventive Minds – Marvin Minsky on Education.

Learn more about the mother of educational technology, Cynthia Solomon, here.


Since its inception, projects at Constructing Modern Knowledge have included attempts to build “thinking” machines with sensors, feedback, and code.

Participants have built shoes that when clicked together call an Uber, stair climbing autonomous vacuum cleaners, and smart helmets…

Here’s a video of a robot fortune teller project.