Learn with Extraordinary Experts

Constructing Modern Knowledge 2024 is committed to making connections between child-centered learning theories and the creative construction of knowledge with computers. In addition to providing a rich sandbox where educators enjoy the luxury of time to work on personally rewarding projects, there are opportunities to interact with some of the greatest educational minds of our time.

We want CMK participants to return home able to say, “I spent time with one of my heroes,” or “My favorite education author helped with my project,” rather than “I heard X speak.”

Stephen Wolfram, Ph.D.

AI expert, Mathematician, Scientist, Software Developer, Author, and MacArthur Genius

Dr. Stephen Wolfram is one of the world’s most prominent experts on Artificial Intelligence. He literally wrote the book, What Is ChatGPT Doing … and Why Does It Work?

Not only is Dr. Wolfram a pioneer in building the tools that power AI, but a man deeply committed to making computational fluency accessible to school children.

Stephen Wolfram is the creator of MathematicaWolfram|Alpha and the Wolfram Language; the author of A New Kind of Science; the originator of the Wolfram Physics Project; and the founder and CEO of Wolfram Research. Over the course of more than four decades, he has been a pioneer in the development and application of computational thinking—and has been responsible for many discoveries, inventions and innovations in science, technology and business.

Wolfram was educated at Eton, Oxford and Caltech. He published his first scientific paper at the age of 15, and had received his PhD in theoretical physics from Caltech by the age of 20. In recognition of his early work in physics and computing, Wolfram became in 1981 the youngest recipient of a MacArthur (Genius) Fellowship. This will be Dr. Wolfram’s second Constructing Modern Knowledge.

Learn more about Stephen Wolfram…

Tricia Tunstall

Music Educator, Author, Activist, Expert on El Sistema

Tricia Tunstall is an author, music educator, and international advocate for positive social change through music education. Her books Playing for Their Lives: The Global El Sistema Movement for Social Change Through Music (co-authored with Eric Booth) and Changing Lives: Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the Transformative Power of Music, explore the seminal ideas and global reach of El Sistema, the trail-blazing Venezuelan initiative to make immersive ensemble music education available to all children. 

Learn more about Tricia Tunstall…

Melissa Walker

Activist, Non-profit Director, Music Educator, and Grammy Winner

Melissa Walker is the Founder and President of the renowned music education non-profit, JAZZ HOUSE KiDS. She has dedicated her life to making sure that every student receives a great arts education, crafting JAZZ HOUSE KiDS to bridge the gap in music instruction and place students on a level playing field with their peers from other communities.  

Today, JAZZ HOUSE moves into its 3rd decade under Walker’s leadership as one of the foremost nationally-acclaimed jazz education and performance organizations transforming lives using the power and legacy of jazz. Through world-class education and hundreds of performances each year, JAZZ HOUSE creates avenues of access, learning, career development and community building and has worked with close to 55,000 students. The organization’s graduates, some of whom are rising stars of the jazz world and music industry, have gone on to become community leaders and global citizens, empowering to find their voices as both on and off the stage long after they leave the JAZZ HOUSE classrooms. 

An acclaimed jazz vocalist and recording artist, Melissa has performed internationally for close to 20 years. In addition to recording five solo albums and appearing as a guest artist on numerous CDs, she is the featured vocalist on bass virtuoso and band leader Christian McBride’s 2012 Grammy-winning album The Good Feeling.  

Learn more about Melissa Walker…

Gary Stager

Gary S. Stager, Ph.D.

Founder & Host: Constructing Modern Knowledge 

Gary Stager is one of the world’s leading experts and advocates for computer programming, robotics and learning-by-doing in classrooms. In 1990, Dr. Stager led professional development in the world’s first laptop schools and played a major role in the early days of online education.

In addition to being a popular keynote speaker at some of the world’s most prestigious education conferences, Gary is a journalist, teacher educator, consultant, professor, software developer, publisher, and school STEM. Director. An elementary teacher by training, he has taught students from preschool through doctoral studies. Gary is the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute for educators.

Dr. Stager is co-author of Invent To Learn – Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, called the “bible of the maker movement in schools,” by Larry Magid of CBS and The San Jose Mercury News. Invent To Learn has been translated into nine languages. Dr. Stager’s most recent book is Twenty Things to Do with a Computer Forward 50: Future Visions of Education Inspired by Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon’s Seminal Work.

He earned a Ph.D. in Science and Mathematics Education and was part of a project that won a Grammy Award. Recently, Gary has been invited to speak and teach in Reggio Emilia, Italy by Fondazione Reggio Children.

Gary is also on the advisory board of the NSF-funded project, BJC4NYC: Bringing a Rigorous Computer Science Principles Course to the Largest School System in the US. 

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