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Our Learning Philosophy

The PIE Network brings together the hands-on inquiry approach of science museums with the learning philosophy from the MIT Media Lab known as "Constructionism."
The term "Constructionism" refers to two kinds of construction: constructing ideas and constructing personally-meaningful projects. Find out more about Constructionist learning theory and practice.

Hands-On Inquiry Science
Science museums provide opportunities for people of all ages to learn through hands-on exploration of natural phenomena. The Exploratorium's Institute for Inquiry offers a thoughtful collection of inquiry science resources.

Bridging Physical and Virtual Worlds
PIE activities bridge the divide between digital technologies and the physical world, allowing artful exploration of the world beyond the computer screen. Read background in the PIE Network NSF grant proposal. Download an article on "middle tech" (PDF) by Mike and Ann Eisenberg.

Informal Learning
PIE activities generally take place in informal learning environments. National Science Foundation provides a description of informal learning. The Institute for Learning Innovation has identified 11 key factors fundamental to Free Choice Learning.

Our Learning Philosophy in Action...

Across the PIE Network
How are we applying these learning theories? See examples throughout this web site, including the PIE Events and PIE Workshops sections. Also, the Center for Children and Technology is evaluating PIE Network activities to learn more about supporting science and technology education nationally.
  Stuff Adults Want to Know
Karen Thimmesch, a mentor teacher at the Museum Magnet School in St. Paul, worked with PIE staff from the Science Museum of Minnesota to involve students in developing playfully inventive projects that use technology. See how she approached thinking about these projects on this page called, "Stuff Adults Want to Know."

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