Let's start with Tech Jam...
On Friday, we headed into the bustling metropolis that is Burlington to attend Tech Jam, Vermont's flagship innovation and technology networking event. I love taking field trips, but the wind up is often stressful. Since Tech Jam was my idea, I handled the logistics, which meant scheduling the whole day and making sure that we got the most bang for our buck. Staring at Tech Jam's show floor on Friday morning, I wondered what on Earth I had done. It was loud and busy and chock-full of people. Even though we had a plan and a passel of expert chaperones with us, there was so much to see and do that I just knew something was going to go south for us.
But it didn't! It did exactly the opposite... and in a really big way.
|Making with the simplest ingredients...|
|What does this button do?|
|VTel President Karen Marshall explains fiber optics.|
|So, you made that cardboard dinosaur head with... lasers?|
|Denied the all-important stage dive, boo!|
|Finding out what's next for IBM.|
|Wowing the gals at Pwnie Express.|
|Getting project ideas from Ken Howell at the Champlain College Maker Lab.|
And we were just getting warmed up! After a lunch and a well-deserved body/brain break at Oakledge, we made our final stop at the Center for Emergent Media at Champlain College's Lakeside Avenue building. ANESU Assistant Superintendent Catrina DiNapoli met us there to take a tour of the college's new Maker Lab. Our contact at Champlain, Ken Howell, who teaches at the College and is on the Generator Board of Directors, apologized when we arrived because a lot of the Lab's goodies were up at Tech Jam. No matter, we said, because we had already seen them! We were eager to get the goods on this dreamy makerspace and, boy, did we. Ken talked to us about how Champlain College students are working with many of the same hardware suites that we have access to in our own makerspace (Arduino, littleBits, MaKeyMaKey) to design and build next-level video game controllers that use sensors to enhance the gaming experience. Ken also demoed a laser cutter, which was pretty epic.
After all of that, we had to head back to the rolling hills of Monkton, which is a good thing because this teacher was certifiably exhausted. I think the kids could have kept going though!
Long story short (too late), Friday's field trip was the kind of educational experience that we want to have as often as possible. Engagement was high, restrictions were few, and authentic learning was happening every which way. What's more, the kids were getting prepped for the real world, which will be here a lot sooner than most of us care to think. A special THANK YOU to all of our chaperones: Ms. Cota, Juliana Dogherty, Miss Carina, Emmy Harvey, Sean Havey, Lianne Petrocelli, and Karen Parker, as well as Catrina DiNapoli for joining us at the Maker Lab and Mr. Dan, our absolutely fearless bus driver! The folks at Tech Jam, Seven Days, and Champlain College made this an experience we will come back to again and again.