The Power of Play:
Using Play to Increase our Creativity and Engage our Learners

DEC 4 | 9:00 A.M. - 3:00 P.M.
District Hall and Boston Children's Museum




“To create the space for imagination, dreaming and insight, it is your solemn duty to master the discipline of playing.”
-Dr. Keith Sawyer

Join us for a fun, engaging and enlightening day of play, creativity and learning.  Discover how play can make us more creative and innovative, how it positively impacts the learning experience, and how we can effectively use it with our learners.

We will spend the first half of our day at District Hall, Boston’s innovation hub, exploring the power of play on our creative capacity, as practitioners and for our learners. We will learn from Dr. Marina Umaschi Bers, Author and Professor at Tufts University, who will share her research on the design and study of innovative learning technologies to promote children’s positive development. She will share ideas from her book Coding as a Playground, where she explores coding for children as a developmental playground, and will present examples from the two learning environments she has created, the ScratchJr programming language and the KIBO robotics kit.

We will spend the second part of our day at the Boston Children’s Museum where we will see creative play in action, take a guided tour of some of the museum’s exhibits to explore how they create and facilitate play spaces and learn from members of their education team about effectively incorporating play into our learning experiences.


Schedule Overview:
8:45 – 9:05      Arrival and Breakfast
9:05 – 10:20     Getting Creative with Play
10:20 – 10:30    Break
10:30 – 12:00    Keynote: Dr. Marina Bers
12:00 – 12:45    Lunch
12:45 – 1:00      Walk to Museum
1:00 – 3:00      Program at Boston Children’s Museum


There is no fee for this event thanks to the generous support of our partner Combined Jewish Philanthropies.


Contact Jody for more information about travel subsidies for those traveling to Boston.




Marina Umaschi Bers is chair and professor at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development and an adjunct professor in the Computer Science Department at Tufts University, where she heads the interdisciplinary Developmental Technologies research group. Her research involves the design and study of innovative learning technologies to promote children’s positive development, most specifically in early childhood. She co-designed the ScratchJr programming language with Mitchel Resnick from the MIT Media Lab and she developed the KIBO Robotics Kit for children aged 4 to 7 year old, that can be programmed with wooden blocks without using keyboards or screens.

Marina is the author of Coding as a Playground.  She received an MEd from Boston University and an MS and PhD from the MIT Media Laboratory working with Seymour Papert.



Micol Zimmerman Burkeman MAJE, is the Director of the Experiential Jewish Education Network where she combines her passions for creating powerful learning experiences and building a supportive network of colleagues that fosters connection and collaboration.

An avid lover of pop culture, Micol uses film, television and other media to bring Jewish text and values to life in a fusion she calls Pop Torah, which she has presented at national and international conferences and for communities around the country.

Micol received her Masters in Jewish Education from the Rhea Hirsch School of Education at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles and her B.A. in Communication at the University of Southern California. She lives in Natick, MA with her husband, Rabbi Danny Burkeman, and their two children, Gabriella and Benjamin, from whom she learns daily about the importance of play. Micol has been trying to incorporate more play into her life and has recently discovered the ultimate playground for adults in obstacle course races and for which her daughter has kindly offered to train her, mostly in the form of playing on the monkey bars.



Melissa Higgins is the Senior Director, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) at Boston Children’s Museum (BCM). Prior to joining BCM, she served as Director of Policy and Strategic Development for Education at WGBH, Boston’s public television station, supporting planning of an funding for new initiatives. She began her career as a member of the Engineering is Elementary program at the Museum of Science, Boston, where she served as director of curriculum development. Higgins helped to shape the project’s flagship in-school curriculum, crafting many of the units’ hands-on design challenges, and spearheaded the development of the Engineering Adventures and Engineering Everywhere programs for afterschool and camp programs. Higgins holds a B.A. in Architectural Studies from Connecticut College and an M.A. in Museum Studies from the Harvard University Extension School.




Boston Children’s Museum is the second oldest, and one of the most influential children’s museums in the world. It was founded in 1913 by the Science Teachers’ Bureau, a group of visionary educators dedicated to providing new resources for both teachers and students, as a center for the exchange of materials and ideas to advance the teaching of science.  For over 100 years it has been engaging children in joyful discovery experiences that instill an appreciation of our world, develop foundational skills, and spark a lifelong love of learning. The Museum’s exhibits and programs emphasize hands-on engagement and learning through experience, employing play as a tool to spark the inherent creativity, curiosity, and imagination of children. As one of the largest children’s museums in the world, Boston Children’s Museum also provides museum consulting services and creates award winning traveling exhibits, staff training curriculum, and exhibit kits for Museum professionals.


The EJE Network is proud to partner on this event with Combined Jewish Philanthropies.



We are grateful to District Hall for helping sponsor this event.