UAV Here come the drones

The Spring Meeting of the New England Section of AAPT will be on the Drones.   I am in the midst of organizing this meeting.

So are Drones in the news?

A lot of people are getting drones for XMAS according to Bloomberg.

“If you find a drone under the Christmas tree next week, it may also come with a list of U.S. government guidelines for safe flying and even software to keep the device away from airports.

Sales of the small, unmanned aircraft are soaring this holiday season, prompting fears that first-time users could accidentally crash them into people, buildings or even aircraft. Retailers, including Inc. (AMZN), are taking steps to educate buyers of the high-tech toys……The Federal Aviation Administration reported drone safety cases for the first time last month, showing incidents had grown to more than 40 per month.”

What does that have to do with Education?  According the the National Journal the new regulations are inhibiting research at Universities.

“Academics who use drones for their research are pushing back on what they call overly restrictive federal regulations.

Two associations that together represent more than 200 American universities are complaining that the Federal Aviation Administration’s confusing policies on commercial drones are harmful to academic research.”



My new book is almost out!!

I am happy to announce the title -  Learning LEGO Mindstorms EV3 on the Packt website.  This is My second book that is published !!!!


Book Type – Maxi

Print Price (US) – $41.99

eBook Price (US) – $25.99

Expected Publication Date
– 27th January 2015

Laser Weapons

Reuters just recently posted a video of Star Wars like weapons. I had to share this.

You can view an older video of the Laser Weapons from 2010 here.

Back when I was in high school, there was talk of Reagan’s Star Wars program to shoot lasers up at Battle Mirrors and bounce them down into the Soviet Union. It never worked because of atmospheric refraction. But as a senior in college, I got to spend two weeks working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (in 1992) where they had just declassified the Laser Guide Start Program, which was one of the few successful parts of the original Star Wars programs.

Why STEM Education?

Here is a great video posted recently on the LEGO Engineering website where Chris Rogers explains why we need STEM education.  There is a transcript of this video at the above link.

CEEO Grand Re-Opening

On Thursday Leonardo and I attended the Grand Reopening of the CEEO at Tufts. They were having the Ribbon Cutting.


Here, Leonardo was building an EV3 Robot for a non-wheeled robot race

Robot Build

Leonardo Won!  Mainly because his robot went forward and the others went backwards. RobotRace

Here, Leonardo is playing a real live gain of space invaders.  A joystick controls a hovering spaceship driven by an EV3.  This was a project from the intro to programming engineering class at Tufts. Space Invador

These are the trophies that were awarded to those who won the robot races!Trophy

This is what you see when you enter the CEEO.Welcome




eSchool News article

I was interviewed a few weeks ago for the Curriculum section of this  week’s issue of eSchool news.   The article is by Laura Deveney and titled Project Based Learning Moves into Classrooms.   I first learned about Project Based Learning through a summer workshop with the New England Board of Higher Education PBL Program.  I participated in the Photon PBL program and build a photosphere with my students for Watt’s My Light.

Problems with The Scientific Method and how I teach

As I prepare for parents night here at BUA, I often get questions about the pedagogy employed in my classroom.   I often turn parents to this article from Science Service, (who publish Science News) about the problems with the Scientific Method.  There are some nice quotes from Heidi Schweingruber,  director of the Board on Science Education at the National Research Council.

“In the future, she says, students and teachers will be encouraged to think not about the scientific method, but instead about “practices of science” — or the many ways in which scientists look for answers.”

“In the past, students have largely been taught there’s one way to do science,” she says. “It’s been reduced to ‘Here are the five steps, and this is how every scientist does it.’“

But that one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t reflect how scientists in different fields actually “do” science, she says.

“Ninety percent of the experiments I did as a scientist didn’t work out,” says Bill Wallace, a former biologist with the National Institutes of Health.

You may have noticed the article also quotes a mild mannered physics teacher from Melrose.

NI Elite Educators

This week in physics we have started playing around with programming LEGO Mindstorms robots using LabVIEW.  I received a note today about an announcement from National Instrument, the maker of LabVIEW, that I am on their list of Elite Educators.

What kinds of things can you do with National Instruments toys?  Here is myRIO with Tetrix, which is the metal version of LEGO.

LEGO is #1

Today I gave my Webinar comparing VEXIQ to EV3.  You can catch it on the O’Reilly site. It should be archived soon.

On the way into school, I heard that LEGO has now surpassed Mattel as the largest toy company in the world.  This is partly due to increase sales and mechandising due to the LEGO movie. You can read about this in the Wall Street Journal or USA Today.  I was excited to read that there is a second LEGO movie in the works and a LEGO Ninjago movie in the works.  The LEGO Movie is touching for those of us who perhaps work too hard and need to remember to spend more time ‘playing with LEGOS’ with our own kids.

1st day of classes and catch my robotics Webinar!

Today was the first day of classes.  In physics today we learned to use InterLACE with an activity called LEGO Serious Play. The students build something to represent themselves from LEGO and shared it with their peers.

This year I am also teaching ASERP (or the Junior STEM Seminar) for the first time in over five years.  21 kids in the class! Wow!

This week I have been busy preparing for the Webinar I am presenting on Thursday.  The Webinar is being put together by O’Reilly, one of the distributors for my LEGO Mindstorms book.  The title of the Webinar is LEGO EV3 vs. VEX IQ Robotics, a Comparison in Sensor Control Systems.