Meet the 2018 LEGO Papert Fellows

2018 marks the second cohort of the LEGO Papert Fellowship program, which honors the legacy of educational-technology pioneer Seymour Papert, a founding Media Lab faculty member. Each year, the LEGO Papert Fellowship funds the work of three graduate students who are working at the intersection of creativity, play, learning, and new technologies.

The 2018 LEGO Papert Fellows

Anneli Hershman (Woolf), Social Machines

Anneli is a PhD student in the Social Machines group working on the Playful Words team to develop child­-driven and machine­-guided technologies that empower children to share their voices with others, while teaching important literacy skills and fostering a love of reading and writing. Anneli’s particular interest is in storytelling and how it can empower children and engage families in supporting their children's playful learning process. To explore this, Anneli works on Learning Loops, which aims to support family engagement in children's storytelling and empower children as authors through coach-assisted networks centered around StoryBlocks.

Anneli received her BA in psychology, focusing on neuroscience, from San Diego State University and her master’s in child development, focusing on literacy learning, from Tufts University. Her work in literacy learning has been motivated by her own experiences with dyslexia. Because of this, she wants to understand how the brain learns to read and design tools to translate that research into meaningful practice with high reach for all families. She has had a lot of experience in education, working as a therapist, preschool teacher, literacy instructor, tutor, researcher, online literacy curriculum creator, and designer.

"I am currently re-learning how to make 360-degree turns on roller skates. I used to dance on roller skates when I was a child, and have recently been trying to get back into roller skating. On sunny days you can sometimes find me fumbling along the Esplanade!"

Carmelo Presicce, Lifelong Kindergarten


Carmelo Presicce

Carmelo is a PhD student in the Lifelong Kindergarten group, where he is learning about creative learning and tinkering with computational tinkering. He’s currently working on the design and facilitation of online learning experiences for educators, including the Learning Creative Learning course and community. He’s also involved in the design of technologies and activities for computational tinkering, engaging children in playful experimentation with physical and computational materials.

Carmelo grew up in a small town in Salento (the “heel” of the Italian “boot”) and studied electrical and computer engineering at the University of Bologna. After working for several years as a software developer, he stumbled into a programming language called Scratch and fell in love with the idea of helping young people learn by creating. He founded a free, volunteer-led coding club for children in Bologna and supported the CoderDojo community in Italy.

"I’m currently learning how to play the cajon in a small italo-american jazz band, how to play the trombone in a big community brass band, and how to play the kazoo in any other situation!"

Joao Wilbert, Tangible Media


Joao Wilbert

Joao is a graduate student at the Media Lab with the Tangible Media group, where he explores the programmable properties of physical objects and materials. Originally from Brazil, Joao is a designer and self-taught programmer who works at the intersection of physical and digital mediums, employing technology for creative expression.

Focused on human-computer interaction, Joao has created projects that engage with themes emerging from mediated collaboration. More recently, he explored ways to take interactivity from the screen into the physical world. His projects include Project Jacquard: weaving touch and gesture interactivity into any textile using standard, industrial looms; Project Bloks: an open hardware platform to help designers and researchers build the next generation of tangible programming experiences for kids; and NSynth Super: a synthesizer that uses a Machine Learning algorithm to create sounds that exist between sounds.

Prior to joining the Media Lab, Joao worked at Google Creative Lab, Poke, and Haque: Design+Research in London, amongst other companies. Joao holds a bachelor's in Social Communication and a master's degree in Interactive Media from Goldsmiths University in London and was a grant holder at FABRICA (Benetton’s center for Research in Communication in Italy).

"I’m currently learning how to be a father by following the first steps of my young son, Yuri."

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