Welcome! Thank 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.

photo of Peggy Healy Stearns



Growing up

When 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 challenging adventures.

The 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 (Diorama Designer), and rainforest habitats (Rainforest Designer).

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Getting 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Professional Bio

Peggy Healy 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, is 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 4-8 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, 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.

Dr. 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".

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 learning experience.

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