MA STEM Finalist of the Year

Today I got to visit Gillette stadium and Patriot Place.  I was being interviewed as a finalist for the MA STEM teacher of the year.  While in the lobby, I noticed the playbill for the first Boston Patriot’s game which was played at Boston University. Boston Patriots

After the interview, I had to buy some LEGO Minifigures.  Here I bought Gronkowski for Leonardo.  Alejandro got Edleman, and I gave Brady to Catalina. Grwonk LEGO Growonk

One of my favorite exhibits at Patriot Place was the LEGO Pat’s helmet. LEGO Helmet Selfie Selfie at Gilette STEM Panel1

The STEM panel interviewing me (from the left in the above photo) included Katie Cross, Education Director for the Hall at Patriot Place, me, Allison Scheff, Executive Director of STEM at the Department of Higher Education and the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, Keith Connors, Senior Program Manager of the STEM Pipeline Fund, and below in the red Patriot’s shirt, Bryan Morry – Executive Director of the Hall at Patriot Place.STEM Panel2 The HallLow VinceLombardiTrophy

Look good for the upcoming physics teacher meeting!

This coming weekend is the annual spring meeting of the New England Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers.   Whenever I want to buy a tie or some jewelry with an astronomy theme, I need to wait for the National Science Teachers Meeting to come to town.  I always visit the booth of Astronomy to Go which has an awesome selection of astronomy themed clothing and jewelry.  However, if you don’t have time to wait I recently discovered two new local online stores I wanted to share with you.  If you want a bow-tie with a science theme, check out Oootie, which has a great selection.  If you are looking for custom made jewelry, check out Creative Horizon.  All of their jewelry is hand-made, and most of it is mosaic.  I bought a great pair of mosaic cufflinks. What impressed me most, is that if you have a design that you want them to make for you, they can deliver!

I bought a couple of their wine stoppers which you can see here.

Handmade mosaic winestopper

Handmade pendant


Handmade earrings with flowers

They also import some handmade jewelry from a women’s cooperative in Mexico.


So I am trying to finish up answering the long pile of e-mails.  Leonardo should be asleep.  I just heard from his room “Daddy, come look at my physics experiment.  Look at what the electricity is doing.”  He has this giant 3 foot tall stuffed teddy bear.  He was rubbing it on his head and making all his hair stand up.  Or I should say he was rubbing his head on the bear.  Looks like he just touched a Van deGraff generator.  It would be really funny if it wasn’t after 10PM at night.



Snow and ice

Too much snow.  The lead page on BUs website is about snow, but not around here.  Snow down in Antarctica explored by BU Professor Marchant.

The other lead article worth reading is Time Magazine.  I just recently got a subscription to Time on my Kindle for Alejandro to read.  And noticed an article about BU Professor Ed Damiano

To quote the ASEE updates

Reports on Boston University biomedical engineering professor Ed Damiano’s efforts to develop a “portable, wearable bionic pancreas – a device he hopes to have on the market as early as 2017,” when his son David will attend college. Though the device will not cure Type 1 diabetes, it “could prove to be the next best thing” and would be “a life changer for” patients. It could also “translate into profits for Damiano – Type 1 diabetes accounts for $5 billion in health care costs each year –which is why a number of other research groups are working on their own versions of the bionic pancreas.” Results from “the last published study” show “that 81% of people on the bionic pancreas had better blood-sugar control than with their standard treatment.”

Go Patriots! And deflategate deflated.

The American Association of Physics teachers had an interesting analysis.  The gist of the analysis consisted of the temperature differences.  In a couple weeks we will be studying gas laws in physics and I see some physics problems coming up (or maybe even a test question).

To quote the AAPT website.

In this section, I summarize a simple analysis that suggests that the under-inflation might be largely explained by the temperature difference between when the balls’ pressure was first verified by the Referee and when the balls were re-measured at half time. I assume that the air inside the football is reasonably described by the ideal gas law under the conditions used for the football preparation and during the game. Let me denote the initial pressure and temperature at which the footballs were prepared as Pi and Ti, respectively. Similarly, I denote the “final” pressure and temperature (during the game) as Pf and Tf. As almost every chemistry and physics student knows, the ideal gas law tells us that 

                                             Pf = Pi (Tf / Ti),                                (1)

under the assumption that the volume of the football and the number of molecules inside the football bladder remain the same, conditions which are at least approximately correct for the game situation. Knowing the initial pressure, the initial temperature, and the final temperature, it is easy to calculate the final pressure. I note that if the final temperature (at half time) is lower than the initial temperature (when the balls’ pressure was first verified), the final pressure will be lower than the initial pressure. At the lower temperature, the air molecules are moving less rapidly (on average) and hence exert a lower pressure on the football bladder in which the air is trapped.

Go to the AAPT website to read the entire analysis.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson has an interesting (wrong) tweet.   Read about his wrong analysis.

Of course, the most famous “science” response if from Bill Nye.  You have to remember, that Nye is from Seattle.  So his opinion…is a bit biased.  But you can watch it here.  If you look at the video, Nye actually never does a measurement.   He just goes on a tirade about Global Warming.







I got an Aeronautics Award

So I just got the below note in my e-mail tonight!  Although many think I only play with robots and LEGOS, before I got into robots, my main focus was astronomy and flying airplanes.  I still teach an aeronautical engineering camp in the summer with the BU College of Engineering and launch rockets with the engineering students at BUA.

I am excited to attend this awards gala with all these big shots from NASA, the FAA, and the DoD.  Autograph books are out, so maybe I will have to get one of those selfie tripod cameras my cousin had on New Year’s Eve.  If you look at the photos from last year’s gala, it looks like a huge awesome deal!

Here is my excitement of the weekend.


Congratulations! On behalf of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) it is my pleasure to inform you that you have been selected as one of the winners of the AIAA Foundation Educator Achievement awards.

The AIAA Foundation presents the Educator Achievement Awards every two years to no more than five classroom teachers who have demonstrated exemplary efforts in exciting students in grades K–12 about the study of mathematics, science, and related technical studies, and in preparing them to use and contribute to tomorrow’s technologies. Through this recognition, AIAA celebrates the “best and brightest” educators for inspiring students.

You and one guest will be invited to AIAA’s Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington D.C. (annual black-tie celebration honoring achievements in aerospace) on May 6, 2015 where the award will be presented.

My Video is out!

About a year ago I started working on a video for the classroom  with the MIT BLOSSOMS project.   You can watch my video and download the lesson plans here.

It took about a year to produce this.  I was one of several teachers selected last January to produce videos for the classroom.

To quote from the BLOSSOMS website:

BLOSSOMS video lessons are enriching students’ learning experiences in high school classrooms from Brooklyn to Beirut to Bangalore. Our Video Library contains over 100 math and science lessons, all freely available to teachers as streaming video and Internet downloads and as DVDs and videotapes.

Visit the BLOSSOMS Video Library anytime to browse and download lessons to use in your classroom. Every lesson is a complete resource that includes video segments, a teacher’s guide, downloadable hand-outs and a list of additional online resources relevant to the topic. We carefully craft each BLOSSOMS lesson to make your classroom come alive. Each 50-minute lesson builds on math and science fundamentals by relating abstract concepts to the real world. The lessons intersperse video instruction with planned exercises that engage students in problem solving and critical thinking, helping students build the kind of gut knowledge that comes from hands-on experience. By guiding students through activities from beginning to end, BLOSSOMS lessons give students a sense of accomplishment and excitement.

While MIT faculty members and partnering educators in Jordan and Pakistan created the first BLOSSOMS lessons, today educators from around the world create and submit BLOSSOMS modules. We welcome you to join our international online community to learn more about our videos and to engage with educators worldwide who are looking for ways to enrich their students’ classroom experiences and share their ideas.

You can watch the video below.  It is on the MIT TechTV website.



LEGO Discovery Center

I just finished the preface for my new LEGO book, so I decided to treat myself with a trip to the new LEGO discovery center.  I particularly like all of the models in Miniland built by the Master Builder,  Ian Coffey. 

I now have it in my mind to build a model of BU Academy, but with the old Shell Sign on the Top of the Building.

Here are some of the pics from my trip today of the great buildings at LEGO

MiniWorld Boston.



Packt’s $5 eBonanza returns

So I am buying Alejandro a Kindle for XMAS.  I was thinking what should I get for him to download, and I found this offer!  Packt has a huge range of books.  Most of them are primarily e-books.  So this is a great chance to find some winter reading!  And you can even pre-order my new book!


Following the success of last year’s festive offer, Packt Publishing will be celebrating the Holiday season with an even bigger $5 offer.

From Thursday 18th December, every eBook and video will be available on the publisher’s website for just $5. Customers are invited to purchase as many as they like before the offer ends on Tuesday January 6th, making it the perfect opportunity to try something new or to take your skills to the next level as 2015 begins.  With all $5 products available in a range of formats and DRM-free, customers will find great value content delivered exactly how they want it across Packt’s website this Xmas and New Year.

Find out more at






3D Printing

So recently, we at BUA have begun to play with 3D Printing.  Two alums (Craig Broady and Parker Porfilio) work at FormLabs.

We had the Printer up and running at our FIRST LEGO League tournament!

We already printed a part for our robot!  It is an grey box to hold an electronics board to hold our….actually I am not at liberty to say.  Top secret FIRST Robotics electronics thing. :)

Electronics Box

Here you can see them giving a presentation to the BUA Robotics Team on how to use the Form1 Plus 3D Printer.