Digital Manipulatives

Mitchel Resnick, Fred Martin, Robert Berg, Rick Borovoy, Vanessa Colella, Kwin Kramer, Brian Silverman


In many educational settings, manipulative materials (such as Cuisenaire Rods and Pattern Blocks) play an important role in children's learning, enabling children to explore mathematical and scientific concepts (such as number and shape) through direct manipulation of physical objects. Our group at the MIT Media Lab has developed a new generation of "digital manipulatives" -- computationally-enhanced versions of traditional children's toys. These new manipulatives enable children to explore a new set of concepts (in particular, "systems concepts" such as feedback and emergence) that have previously been considered "too advanced" for children to learn. In this paper, we discuss four of our digital manipulatives -- computationally-augmented versions of blocks, beads, balls, and badges.

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