Meet the 2017 LEGO Papert Fellows

The LEGO Papert Fellowship program was officially launched in 2017. The LEGO Foundation, a long-time member of the Media Lab, has endowed the program to honor the legacy of educational-technology pioneer Seymour Papert, a founding Media Lab faculty member. Each year, the LEGO Papert Fellowships will fund the work of three graduate students who are working at the intersection of creativity, play, learning, and new technologies.

The 2017 LEGO Papert Fellows

Stefania Druga, Personal Robots 

"I am currently learning how to design and customize a visual programming environment where young children and older adults could program together with robots."

Stefania is a second-year master's student in the Personal Robots research group. She concentrates her research on how children interact with, and make sense of, the growing collection of “smart” interconnected playthings in the world around them. She is exploring how children, as they play with these new devices, develop new ways of thinking about intelligence, emotion, and social interaction. Based on these studies, Stefania hopes to design new tools and activities to introduce children to machine learning and artificial intelligence in a playful way. She is especially interested in embodied learning and play, providing children with opportunities to develop and program their own body extensions and augmentations.

Stefania grew up in Romania, and graduated from an international Erasmus Mundus Master of Media Engineering for Education (France, Spain, Portugal). Before joining the Media Lab, she co-founded HacKIDemia (mobile labs for Maker Education in 40 countries), Afrimakers (communities of Maker projects in 10 African countries), and MakerCamp (global camps for learning how to build and run Makerspaces).

Kreg Hanning, Lifelong Kindergarten

Kreg is a second-year master's student in the Lifelong Kindergarten research group. His work centers on the development of new tools and activities to promote physical tinkering—that is, new ways to engage children in creative explorations through physical construction. As a member of the Scratch Team, Kreg has developed many Scratch extensions, enabling children to use Scratch for controlling hardware devices, accessing online data, and connecting with web services. Through Scratch extensions, Kreg hopes to provide children with new opportunities to think about, and interact with, the world around them.

Kreg grew up in Maine, in the northeastern corner of the United States. Before joining the Media Lab, he worked for several years with public elementary schools, helping teachers integrate new technologies in support of creative learning activities. He is particularly passionate about using free and open-source software projects to provide access to learners from all social and economic backgrounds.

"This week, I'm learning how to use quaternions to represent object orientations in three-dimensional space."

Mina Kahn, Fluid Interfaces

"I love learning everything from developmental economics to cognitive neuroscience to space science."

Mina is a second-year master's student in the Fluid Interfaces research group. Her research focuses on possibilities for using “mixed reality” (integrating virtual objects with the physical environment) to enable playful learning of math and physics. She is working on a project called MathLand, inspired by Seymour Papert’s conception of a world where children learn mathematical ideas in a natural way as part of their everyday activities. In Mina’s mixed-reality MathLand project, people can redefine, relive, and reinvent their reality by visualizing and playing with the mathematics underlying their world. Mathland is a world where one can play catch with a ball—and, at the same time, visualize its trajectory, velocity, and forces.

Mina was born in Karachi, Pakistan. She came to the US for her undergraduate studies at Mount Holyoke College, where she triple-majored in physics, math, and computer science. After her undergraduate degree, Mina worked on contextual intelligence and personalization use cases in Google's Project Aura (Google Glass and Beyond) before she came to the Media Lab.

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