Margaret Patterson

Margaret Patterson

Problem Making


Steve Jobs said that innovation is the intersection of technology and creativity.  There is another essential ingredient for innovation:  a problem.  The drive to innovate comes from the desire to solve a problem.

Not just any problem will do.  The kinds of problems that promote discovery and creativity usually involve some limitation of resources: space, tools, materials, information, etc.  Such problems are faced by artists, by writers, by scientists, by chefs, by programmers, by MAKERS.

The constraints force us to understand, make connections, and find creative ways to solve the problem.

If we want to produce innovators, we must create opportunities for problem solving at every age level and in a variety of settings. Ideally the problems will have constraints, but will also be open-ended:  a seeming contradiction.

In this workshop, you will be the problem solver in a variety of situations that you can take back to your classroom or school.  You will be the innovator as we generate new ideas and situations, which encourage exploration, creativity, and problem solving.

Outcomes include:
  • Participants will become familiar with some of the theory and history of constructionism.
  • Participants will have hands-on experience creating problems and making solutions to problems.
  • Participants will use a variety of tools to solve problems.
  • Participants will expand their notion of problem solving and create their own engaging prompts and settings to promote innovative problem solving with their students.
Intended audience:


About Margaret:

Margaret Patterson is a high school math teacher, technology integration coach and aspiring morning person.

She currently works at the American International School of Johannesburg.  Over the past twenty years she has taught in Taiwan, France and Belgium.  At some point in there, she and her husband took two years off to indulge in the ultimate Maker project:  they built an Earthship in Northern New Mexico.

Margaret says that her interest in technology started when her fifth grade class got an Apple II, though her parents say it was when she, as a toddler, took apart every clock in the house.  (No, she did not put them back together.)  She and her parents agree, however, on when she became interested in math.  It happened when an Irish high school literature teacher became her third grade teacher in Birmingham, Alabama.  She didn’t really know how to be a third grade teacher.  She didn’t know where third graders were “supposed” to stop learning, so they worked ahead in their math books, put on Dickens plays, and counted in base 9 (and base 8 and base 7…).

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