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Hill Top Prep Students Complete an Epic Journey to Asia

Bob Sager, President

(from PAISBOA Friday Flyer, 12/1/17)

The Inadvertent Inventor

Barbara Lee, Technology Services Manager

(from, 6/27/17)

On November 10th, I had the pleasure of joining a small group of Hill Top students and the school’s Headmaster, Tom Needham as we embarked on a 10-day trip to Hong Kong and mainland China for the purposes of cultural immersion, technology instruction and international entrepreneurship.  We visited many important cultural sites and several technology-centered corporations, making many new friends as the students learned a great deal about the world and themselves. The students gained a new confidence in their abilities and saw more meaning behind what they are learning in their classroom and how it applies to the real word and their futures.

Our journey was shared live via social media including Twitter posts by

Hill Top and Edu-Tech as well as on Facebook, and documented in an electronic journal diligently maintained by Headmaster Tom Needham.


You will see in the final posting that there are a number of ideas that have grown out of this trip, some of which have the possibility of becoming reality for both Hill Top and other independent schools in our region. This includes the potential for an exchange program with students from Hong Kong, Thailand or China coming to the United States for a similar experience here. In addition, two Hill Top students on our trip expressed an interest in returning to Hong Kong upon completion of high school for a summer internship and a gap-year experience.


Edu-Tech’s staff, assigned to provide full-time technical support and classroom integration at Hill Top year-round, are very excited about the learning opportunities that this trip provided these students as it relates to technology and entrepreneurship, which are key components of the Hill Top instructional program.


As an entrepreneur, independent school parent, and school trustee, I am anxious to hear from other schools that would be interested in developing a unique travel program like this for their students. Feel free to reach me directly should you or your Head of School have any questions about this program, and how we can work together to build a custom exchange program that meets the needs of your students and the goals of your school’s program.

Hill Top Students win Congressional App Challenge

Stephanie Falcone, Technology Integration Specialist

(from Hill Top Prep's Facebook page)

The Congressional App Challenge is a contest hosted by the United States Congress that encourages kids to learn computer coding. Mrs. Stephanie Falcone offered the challenge to her students. Three students created the Hill Top Mobile App, which has been become a useful tool for our entire community! The results are in, and the guys won 3rd place for our district! Congratulations to all!


In all, 190 Congressional districts across 42 states hosted app challenges for their student constituents. Over 4,100 students participated in the 14-week regional competitions.

How does innovation happen? At the moment, I can identify, oh, about a thousand books or articles that talk about the nature of innovation. Among them is Steven Johnson’s excellent Where Good Ideas Come From. In that book, Johnson talks about the concept of the “adjacent possible,” a kind of “shadow future” where one can’t envision point D from point A, but after conceptualizing from A to B, and then B to C, D becomes imaginable. Other essayists describe innovation as tinkering, or the remixing of materials or ideas.


For me, innovation happened when I thought about applying an existing technology in a new way to solve a problem.


It started out when my school’s first 3D printer arrived. Like others, I excitedly printed the demo comb, nut and bolt, and length of chain, marveling at the technology and hypnotized by watching the melted plastic filament ooze out of the printer’s extruder head. Soon after, I took the next step by designing and printing for myself a decorative box.


While that was a satisfying experience, I began to think about making something better — something to solve a problem. As the technology manager in a school for children who learn differently, I wondered: What could I make to help kids with dyslexia? Up until then, I had read about the usefulness of 3D technology for making prosthetic hands, webbed feet for ducks, and even the potential for printing with stem cells. But all of those are physical things. I wanted to make language tangible.


By starting with the question, “What can I make?” I opened the door to a line of inquiry that led to my invention....


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