Stemiverse 0008 – John Burfoot and the magic of Lego 

 August 22, 2017

By  Peter

In this episode, Dr. Peter Dalmaris and Marcus Schappi talk with John Burfoot.

John is a STEM robotics teacher and trainer. He is a Science and STEAM specialist in the state of NSW in Australia, for primary schools. He also facilitates and delivers technology workshops through the MacICT Innovations Centre at Macquarie University in Sydney.

John is also a founder of Sci-riffic, a company that delivers specialist science and robotics training for schools. As you will see, John has a passion for science and technology and a vast experience in teaching it. He also has a lot of experience outside of teaching, and in particular in communications, marketing, electronics, avionics, and as a special effects technician.

This is Stemiverse episode 8.


Stemiverse podcast is brought to you by Tech Explorations, a leading provider of educational resources for Makers, STEM students, and teachers. Go to to see a complete list of our books and courses covering the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and electronics.

Show Notes

  • [00:00] Introduction – Introducing John Burfoot
  • [01:26] John talks about his background, his apprenticeship in electronics & avionics, his love for movie-making and working for a special effects company, as a financial services consultant, and in communication & marketing
  • [07:58] How John became a teacher and his introduction to Lego Robotics
  • [09:56] Diverse backgrounds in other teachers: Typical or not?
  • [11:06] The diversity in the subjects John could teach due to his background
  • [12:51] John’s background in Communications in Westpac Financial Services
  • [14:51] Learning can be hard
  • [22:45] John’s current occupation with STEM Robotics
  • [24:34] Lego Educational Robotics Platform NXT
  • [28:22] Conducting science experiments with Lego
  • [31:20] What is STEM? The definition of STEM for new educators: Vague, but still evolving
  • [33:52] STEM: a methodology or a collection of subjects? John answers this question according to his experience in schools
  • [36:01] What does the STEM facilitator bring that a teacher doesn’t have?
  • [38:42] What an ideal STEM teacher looks like and how to empower teachers to do STEM: Technological and Methodological requirements
  • [47:11] The essence of STEM: Training children to think and act like scientists and engineers
  • [50:22] Rapid Fire Questions
  • [50:40] Who has been the most influential in shaping the way that you teach: Skip Ross, and his book Say Yes to Your Potential, Martin Seligman (Positive Psychology), Stephen R. Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)
  • [52:33] Advice to Educators just starting out: Understand electronics – Learn how to use LittleBits
  • [58:09] PD Recommendations: STEM conferences, Future Learning, Science Teachers’ Association of New South Wales, Australian Science Teachers Association
  • [01:00:56] Australia vs. the World regarding STEM teaching
  • [01:03:31] John’s Contact Information: Email: [email protected], Website: Sci-riffic


Peter Dalmaris is an educator, electrical engineer, electronics hobbyist, and Maker. Creator of online video courses on DIY electronics and author of three technical books, and has recently released his book Maker Education Revolution.   As a Chief Tech Explorer since 2013 at Tech Explorations, the company he founded in Sydney, Australia, Peter’s mission is to explore technology and help educate the world.  Tech Explorations offers educational courses and Bootcamps for electronics hobbyists, STEM students and STEM teachers. A life-long learner, Peter’s core skill is in explaining difficult concepts through video and text. With over 15 years of tertiary teaching experience, Peter has developed a simple yet comprehensive style in teaching that students from all around the world appreciate.  His passion for technology and in particular for the world of DIY open source hardware has been a dominant driver that has guided his personal development and his work through Tech Explorations. Peter’s current online courses have helped over 60,000 people from around the world to be better Makers. 

Peter Dalmaris

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