Monday, April 23, 2012

Student Technology Fair (Extra Credit)

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The ITEC Eastern Regional Student Technology Fair was this April 19th at the University of Northern Iowa. I had the chance to speak with three students involved about their projects. This fair had over 50 projects from eleven different school districts where each project was part of the instructional curriculum. I was very impressed with the projects I heard about form the students. Two students used Blender, software that allows the creation of 3D models that has the ability to create games. A junior in high school created 3D atoms, showing the linear, two dimensional and three dimensional attributes of the atom. His original idea was to create a tornado, however had issues with the dynamics of the project. He also showed us a picture he created where he added virtual characters to an original photo of himself playing cards with them. The second student who used Blender was a freshman who created building structures with blocks, creating a mini game knocking the structure down with balls. It was almost a homemade version of angry birds. A video of this is shown above. A group of 4th graders had a project dealing with robotics where the robot vehicle followed a white line with a laser light. When the line ended and started somewhere else the laser would search for it until it found it again. This video is shown below.

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This technology fair impacts learning through giving students the open ended questions that allow for free thought and investigation. Each student was allowed to choose their own project and build knowledge through project based learning. I believe these projects where goal directed, mix with infusion because they were engaging and ongoing activities that could not be attained without support of technology. This fair showed how students were empowered to extend the use of technology while having a greater ownership and responsibility of their learning. Through this the students were able to learn at their own pace while having more control of where they wanted their learning to go based on their specific interests. I feel this is important for any classroom because students will learn more and become more involved in activities that they are interested in and where they feel they have more control of their own leaning.

As a future teacher I will be able to use this idea of PBL by being more aware of the benefits it has for students as well as keeping their interests in mind to help  motivate them to learn. Also allowing them to slowly take ownership of their own learning through projects like the ones shown at the fair. It was easy to see that the students where very interested in what they had accomplished and where able to answer questions about what they have been working on. There is a sense of pride when a student accomplishes something that they worked hard on where they were interested in it and was able to assume full ownership. This is one accomplishment I want to acquire as a teacher, having my students proud of their hard work while learning in an engaging environment.

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