New! Second Edition of Invent to Learn Released

We are excited to announce that a newly revised and expanded edition of Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom has just been released.

It’s been five years since Gary Stager and I published the first edition of Invent to Learn. In that time, schools around the world have embraced making, makerspaces, and more authentic STEM/STEAM experiences for all children. It’s been fun to be a part of this worldwide phenomenon!

The brand new second edition includes a lot of new material reflecting how much has changed in a few short years. There are many new microcontrollers to choose from, and many more that are better for school use. The fabrication chapter has been updated to reflect how the design process has been streamlined by hardware and software progress. There is an entirely new section on laser cutters and CNC machines.

Programming options have expanded as well with software appropriate for students as young as four years old. Finally, there are some fantastic and accessible environments for programming microcontrollers. When we published the first edition, we were positive that a good block-based programming language for Arduino was just around the corner. Although new software environments emerged, they lacked the polish and stability required to make a difference in classrooms. Now things are different.

There is more research about the positive impact of fabrication, robotics, and coding to share. All of the suggested resources have been updated and expanded. The online resources here on are even more extensive.

The additions and updates to the book go beyond mentions of new technology and fixing broken URLs. There are new examples from educators around the world who have embraced making in their classrooms. There is more context provided for the connections between project-based learning and making. We attempt to be clearer about the real reason that making matters—not to build a special room or purchase equipment, but to make schools a better place for ALL students and teachers to learn.

The second edition is now available in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle on the Amazon website and other online retailers. For volume sales, using a PO, or international sales, please contact

The most important education book published this year!

“I think Invent to Learn is the most important education book published this year, offering not just a vision of how “making” and “tinkering” could transform classrooms, but a practical guide for how to move school in a more constructionist direction – how to design better learning environments and projects, how to foster wonder and build capacity in children (and adults), and how to combat the drudgery of a standardized-test-obsessed school system.” – Audrey Watters

My jaw literally hit the floor when I read this. Well, maybe not literally, but I’m from California and that’s how we talk out here. I thought I was reading a review of Diane Ravitch’s new book, Reign of Error, but Audrey hijacks her own review of Reign of Error to talk about our book, Invent To Learn. After all, the post is called, “Technology, Progressive Education, and Diane Ravitch’s Reign of Error” – I didn’t expect to read about our book!

Most of the review is about the Ravitch book, which takes on “the hoax of the privatization movement” and dismantling the fear-inducing “schools are broken” narrative that is driving many so called reforms that deprive schools, teachers, and students of agency over learning. But as Audrey astutely points out, challenging the “schools are broken” mantra doesn’t mean that you are a defender of the status quo. There is another way forward.

That’s where Stager and Martinez’s book Invent to Learn comes in as a manual for educators (and parents and principals) – one that could help reignite the progressive education movement and shift school into the hands of modern learners. That makes the book incredibly political, mind you, but the transformation it calls for isn’t simply at the level of policy. The change is pedagogical; the change is technological.

People may not think of the Maker Movement or making in the classroom as a political stance, but they both are. Politics isn’t only about who gets elected, or the day to day “action” on Capitol Hill, it’s a negotiation of power in any relationship – who has it, who can use it, and over how many other people. The Maker Movement is about sharing ideas and access to solutions with the world, not for money or power, but to make the world a better place. It’s about trusting other people, people you don’t know, to use these ideas for good. Making in the classroom is also about power and trust, and perhaps in an even more important way, because it’s about transferring power to the learner, our students, who are the ones who will take over the world in the not too distant future. And in giving the learner agency and responsibility over their own learning, they gain trust, not just our trust, but trust in themselves as powerful problem-solvers and agents of change.

It is a political statement to work to empower people, just as it is a political statement to work to disempower people. That holds true for all people, not just young people. Being a helpless pawn in a game controlled by others is disempowering, whether you are a teacher, student, parent, or citizen of the world. Deciding that you trust another person enough to share power, or even more radical, give them agency over decisions, is indeed political.

Making is not only a stance towards taking that power back, as individuals and as a community, but also trusting ourselves and each other to share that power to create, learn, grow, and solve problems. Empowering students is an act of showing trust by transferring power and agency to the learner. Helping young people learn how to handle the responsibility that goes along with this power is the sensible way to do it. Inspiring them with modern tools and modern knowledge needed to solve real problems is part of this job. For education to change, it can’t just be tweaks to policy, or speeches, or buying the new new thing — teachers have to know how to empower learners every day in every classroom. There is no chance of having empowered students without empowered teachers — competent, professional, caring teachers who are supported in this goal by their community.

I’m glad Diane Ravitch’s book is getting the attention it deserves. We have to have a national conversation about what’s going on in education in the U.S. so perhaps this is the catalyst. I hope that if people pay attention we can turn the tide before too many years go by and learner-centered education is such a dim memory that it’s too late to revive. But what I see in so many schools committing themselves to new makerspaces and making in the classroom initiatives is that it’s not too late. There are so many of these hopeful signs. If our book is helping, then that’s a great satisfaction.

Making the future: Why we need to help kids make stuff

In Making the future: Why we need to help kids make stuff, blogger extraordinaire Anne Collier lays out the case to parents about making, playing, and why it matters. Anne runs, which provides parents information about technology without the usual fear-mongering so often aimed at parents.

Parents and teachers, do you see how central “play” is in all this? This is not rocket science. It’s better and more advanced. It’s childlike. It’s tinkering, messing around with physical and digital tools and media, creative problem-solving that’s both individual and collaborative, trial and error. It comes naturally to children (all of us, really), and I think it’s one reason why they’re so attracted to things like phones and tablets. Of course it needs to be channeled, as authorities are often heard to say, but a better word is facilitated, and the social messing around is part of a progression that researchers call “hanging out, messing around and geeking out” (from the Fab Foundation’s description you can tell that what goes on at the Fab Labs is certainly not all geeking out!).

She also graciously mentions our book as a resource for parents and young people. We wrote the book with educators in mind, but have had some wonderful conversations with parents and young people who have found it helpful. One father said to me he actually read one of the examples verbatim from our chapter on “Making the Case: Say This Not That” at a recent school meeting!

A new book, Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager helps educators, students and parents make learning by making infinitely more accessible – whether the case for it needs to be made or you get it and now just need the resources – including if your school wants to organize its own Maker Day, which could be so much more inclusive and whole-school than a science fair, as great as those are.

Martinez and Stager quote Seymour Papert, the great constructivist and constructionist, as saying, “I think it’s an exaggeration, but there’s a lot of truth in saying that when you go to school, the trauma is that you must stop learning and you must now accept being taught.” So with digital media making and printing, we can join our kids in a playful revolution in learning that depends on hands as well as heads.

Read more of the article here >>

“The Maker Movement in schools now has a bible”

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Maker Movement Taps Into Deep and Rich Tradition

By Larry Magid, Technology Columnist Huffington Post

The maker movement in schools now has a bible. There is a new book aimed at educators wanting to inspire students to become makers called Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom, by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager.

Part philosophical treatise, part hands-on recipes and part inspirational, the book helps teachers and parents come up with projects to engage kids. They range from creating customized projects to programming computers and mobile devices to creating your own wearable computers such as a sweatshirt with turn signals that flash while you peddle your bike. There is advice on how to use Legos to make your own robots or how to incorporate Arduino, an open source single-board microcontroller that’s being used increasingly to create or control objects or environments that can interact with sensors.

The book’s page on “The eight elements of a good project” is worth the price of admission because it helps the reader understand what can work in a classroom. Martinez and Stager don’t want teachers to dumb down projects but encourage ones that “prompt intrigue in the learner enough to have him or her invest time, effort and creativity in the development of the project.” There is also advice on how to plan a project and how to find the necessary materials.

I was also glad to see the authors put the maker movement into an historical context with a chapter devoted to the history of how educators, artists and inventors — beginning with Leonard da Vinci — have been encouraging DYI projects. I was pleased to see them pay homage to John Dewey, who, they write, “advocated for students to be actively engaged in authentic interdisciplinary projects connected to the real word.” And I was personally gratified that they mentioned the resurgence in “open education, classroom centers, and project-based learning” during the ’60s and ’70s, because I was deeply involved in that during my UC Berkeley days, when I helped run the Center for Participant Education. Later, I ran the Center for Educational Reform, in Washington DC.

Read more of the review here

EdSurge Review: A guide to why ‘Making’ should be in every class

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Ed Surge article

EdSurge Review of Invent To Learn by Betsy Corcoran, CEO and Founder of EdSurge:

Okay, I confess: I love this book.

Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroomby Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary Stager, does a fantastic job of laying out the pedagogical underpinnings for why “making” has a place in school.

In their readable, down-to-earth style, Martinez and Stager provide a rich history of why making activities not just belong in school but are the root of genuine learning: “The maker movement may represent our best hope for reigniting progressive education,” they write.

Read more…