you for visiting my web site. I'm excited to share news about
my software, thoughts about education, and tips and resources
for teachers, parents, and kids.
Feel free to contact
me with your comments and suggestions, to share your greatest
classroom challenges or successes, or to tell how you use my software
in your classroom or home.
I was in grade school, my pencil box was one of my favorite
possessions. It held tools for all kinds of projects, and
I loved projects. I colored and painted. I folded and cut
paper into intricate designs (and left tiny scraps all over
the floor). I wrote stories, poetry and essays. I typed
my early "masterpieces" on my father's typewriter
and published books bound in construction paper and tied
with yarn. I eagerly entered school, city and state writing
contests. Winning was a nice bonus, but mostly I loved the
art of crafting the words that told my story.
Other projects took me beyond my pencil
box and were collaborative efforts with my sister and brother.
We constructed "marble machines", skyscrapers
and unidentifiable inventions using wooden blocks, Erector
Sets, and Tinker Toys. We laid out villages for our Lionel
trains and explored the skies with our telescope. When we
got older, our projects got bigger. We built giant stilts,
tree houses (one was 7 stories high!), go-carts, a 6-foot
rocket ship, and a full-size glider big enough to take me
on one amazing 20-foot flight. Between projects, we climbed
trees, explored the woods, and hiked along the banks of
the Mohawk River as we imagined ourselves on exciting and
lessons I learned from planning, creating, building and
exploring were immeasurable. I learned when I didn't know
I was learning, and in many ways, that was the beauty of
it. Learning was effortless. As an adult, I see how these
early experiences influenced my software. My passion for
paper, pencil, writing, scissors and hands-on projects is
reflected in my programs which feature project-based learning
and printed amd fabricated output like like pop-ups and working machines (Fab@School Maker Studio), stationery (Stationery
Studio), maps (Neighborhood
MapMachine), graphs (Graph
Club), 3D models of homes and buildings (Community
Construction Kit), historic and contemporary dioramas
Designer), and rainforest habitats (Rainforest
Back to Top
started in software design
In 1983, a
colleague at the middle school where I was teaching brought in
an early desktop computer. At the time, there were no computers
in our school and, like most of the faculty, I had never used one.
The technology intrigued me, so I spent my lunch hour exploring.
It was love at first sight. "I'm going to design software!"
I announced. Though skeptical colleagues pointed out "most
people don't design software" and suggested I "just
learn to use it", I was not deterred. I bought a computer
and a programming guide, and enrolled in a doctoral program at
the State University of New York at Buffalo.
As a graduate assistant in the Software Evaluation
Project, I reviewed almost every educational software program
then available. It was there that I conceived my first software
design. I called Sunburst Communications and was thrilled when
the president of the company flew to Buffalo to see my prototype.
She loved it, and my career as a software designer was launched.
Solve It! was published in 1988, followed by Solve
It! American History Mysteries in 1990. My next five programs
were published with Tom
Snyder Productions, a division of Scholastic,
and my latest with Fablevision.
[For more information, see Software]
Today I work
from home and enjoy setting up "satellite offices"
in unlikely places around my yard - a bench along a wooded
path, a hammock strung between trees, my tree house poised
25' above the forest floor. Despite my rather solitary setting,
I am in daily contact with educators across the country,
project managers, programmers, artists, editors, marketing
and sales professionals and the other talented and dedicated
people who work together to bring you a single software
program. With their help, my research, writing, concepts,
and designs materialize into a product that we hope will
enhance teaching, learning and creative play.
Stearns, Ph.D., is an educator, parent, writer, seminar presenter,
and award-winning software designer. She has published seven best-selling
and award winning children's software programs including The
Graph Club, Neighborhood MapMachine, Community
Construction Kit, Diorama Designer, and Rainforest
Designer, all published by Scholastic, Inc., and Stationery Studio,
published by FableVision. Peggy's software has earned over
three dozen national awards.
Peggy’s newest program, Fab@School Maker Studio, was released in 2016. Maker Studio is an easy-to-use web-based CAD tool that lets students in grades K-8 imagine, invent and fabricate 2D designs, pop-ups, and 3D projects like geometric constructions and working machines. Maker Studio is being developed in conjunction with Fab@School coalition partners including University of Virginia, Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE), Princeton, the Smithsonian, Albemarle and Charlottesville school districts, and others. Maker Studio development and pilot testing have been supported by Cisco, Noyce, and Alcoa Foundations. The application is being adapted for younger children in conjunction with the MIT Fab Foundation’s Early Childhood FabLab initiative.
Peggy draws from her 20 years experience at the
K-12 level as classroom teacher and district technology specialist.
In addition, she taught at the State University of New York at
Buffalo Graduate School of Education and consulted for Scholastic,
Broderbund, Apple Computer, public television, the Board of Cooperative
Educational Services in New York State and other educational institutions.
Stearns has presented seminars and conference sessions to thousands
of educators across the country, has been featured in radio and television broadcasts, and has published dozens of articles
in numerous professional journals and on the web. She earned her
Masters from Harvard University and her Ph.D. from the State University
of New York at Buffalo where she was honored as a "University
Inventor". In 2016, the Society for Informatin Technology and Teacher Education awarded Peggy the Markwart Corporate Leadership Award for her work on Fab@School Maker Studio.
Despite her many accomplishments, what pleases
Peggy most is the enthusiasm of children, teachers and parents
who tell her how her work has inspired and revolutionized their