The Power of Wireless Projector Connection

This is a real incident from a  study I just completed that compared teacher use of technology with and without wireless projection systems.  I found that these systems changed the spatial arrangements in the classroom as well as the reach and frequency of technology use.

Thanks to Sally Galman, who took my very crude cartoon and made it into something fabulous.  See for more information on Sally and her wonderful work including her research methodology books (in cartoon format).

techComicPage1 techComicPage2

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New Burglar Alarm Posters

Here are some nice example of grade 4 burglar alarm ad posters from this year.  Students have an open-ended engineering challenge of building a prototype burglar alarm.  Next, they design an ad poster and make a pitch at a simulated sales event.


BurglarAd18 BurglarAd19 BurglarAd20 BurglarAd21

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Burglar Alarm Fair Business Card

A couple of students made their own business cards for our grade 4 Burglar Alarm Fair totally on their own.  I was happy to see such investment and initiative!

Business Card

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Space Challenge Ready To Go

My enrichment students have finished building all the LEGO EV3 Space Challenge pieces and are ready to take on the challenge missions!

Space Challenge

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Dragsters 2014

I teach robotics one afternoon a week in a sister school in our district.  This is my third year there.  It is interesting to see the changes each year as students get more experience.  The classroom teacher and I were very pleased with the engineering results this year. All teams completed a dragster and got at least one time.  This year’s faster dragster was made by Kennan.  The car went 6.7 feet/second.  Second fastest was Jerry and Kaylie.  Their car went 5.9 feet/second.

Dragsters 2 Dragsters 1

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Found This Note on a Robot Kit Today

World Record Note



We found this note from two of last year’s sixth graders on one of the robotics kits.  It was very satisfying to find this note.  The two boys were so proud of their accomplishments.

“This kit was the one used to break the world record of 7.7 feet per second.  Use this kit wisely.  Kyle and Mark”


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Robotics Quick Update

Sorry I have not been posting much.  I spent a lot of time this summer working on my “comps” papers for my PhD.  This involved a robotics literature review and a write up of my pilot study, where I examined a second and sixth grade student doing an open ended engineering challenge.  The second drafts of both papers are in the Research section of this web site.

I am trying to finish up my coursework this fall taking 3 courses and finishing an independent study.  The latter is a reworking of a lit review  paper my advisor wrote on robotics as computational manipulatives.  If I survive the grueling schedule (7 weeks to go), I will have my final course in the spring (Qualitative Research 2) and a CAGS (Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study).  I am planning to defend my comps sometime this fall/winter and start my dissertation proposal this spring.

Couple of other things going on.  I went to Denmark for a week this summer of a consulting job.  We went to the Grand Canyon.   I am on a committee defining new computer science and digital literacy for the state of Massachusetts.  I was named a finalist (one of three) for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching.  We have all new technology at our new school so it’s exciting but also a ton of work to get everything deployed.  My three enrichment students are working the the LEGO EV3 Space Challenge, which has been a lot of fun and it’s giving me chance to work with the EV3 more in-depth.

I will write about my pilot study research when I come up for air.

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I want to plot kid’s engineering design process cycles but don’t know how to get EXCEL to combine events of the same type on the same line.  For the example below, I want the 2 PLAN events to be on one line.



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Summer Beach Reading

Bazeley, P., & Jackson, K. (2013). Qualitative data analysis with NVivo. Sage Publications Limited.
Coch, D., Fischer, K. W., & Dawson, G. (2010). Human behavior, learning, and the developing brain: Typical development. Guilford Press.
Gough, D., Oliver, S., & Thomas, J. (2012). An introduction to systematic reviews. Sage Publications.
Young, G. (2011). Development and causality: Neo-Piagetian perspectives. Springer.
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Elementary Robotics Book Talk – June 19, 2014 – Meekins Library, Williamsburg

Author’s Talk John Heffernan

Elementary Robotics: Sustaining the Natural Engineering Instincts of Children

Thursday, June 19, 2014

7 PM to 8 PM

2 Williams Street, Williamsburg, MA 01341

Toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners are natural engineers. They love sand castles, blocks, fairy houses, and other projects that support their creative, fantasy play. We support this natural engineering instinct in preschool and kindergarten classrooms with blocks, LEGOs, sand and water tables, and other activities. As students reach first grade and beyond, we remove all these activities from school. Yet we still expect them be interested in engineering when they get to high school and college.

The Elementary Engineering Curriculum (EEC), described in this book, supports students’ natural engineering interests all through elementary school. The EEC delivers a preschool to grade six engineering experience based on BeeBot, and LEGO WeDo, NXT, and EV3 robotics. Each year, students have at least one robotics unit. In grades K, two, three, four, six, students also have an open ended engineering challenge. The EEC explicitly teaches the engineering design process in an age appropriate way. Robotics provides very high interest, motivating, and deep learning experience for students. This book contains rationale, descriptions, research, and teaching tips on elementary robotics as well as complete lesson plans and standards alignment for the curriculum.

Park at the Post Office or West Main St, to leave the parking lot open for patron use.

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