TechStart continues to support technical education in a time when budgets are strained and class sizes growing. This past year, I received a grant for music creation software that helps enhance the programs my students are creating. The grant enabled students who otherwise might not be interested in the coding aspects to engage in class projects by creating sound effects and music to go along with the action or storyline in programs coded by their peers. As a teacher, I continue to receive low cost education in Alice and GameMaker (as well as other available courses) that allows me to enrich my student's knowledge as they explore these programs.
TechStart has been a great help in helping me create an engaging curriculum in my Middle School computer application classes. In addition to providing opportunities at low (and sometimes, no) cost to learn about programming and technology, the organization also hosts a GameMaker programming contest in the Spring. My students love the opportunity to show what they have learned to different panels of knowledgeable adults, and they also gain valuable insight into various technology fields when they get the opportunity to meet with professionals in the field - and at least 2 of these opportunities are scheduled into their day when they go to the competition. The classes have allowed me to become a confident enabler of various software programs and it is a joy to watch the students explore the programs we use and explore ways to go beyond the lessons I teach.
I learned about Techstart from a colleague in Eugene. This organization sponsors outstanding educational events for teachers and support persons working in Northwest schools. In addition, the organization spearheads opportunities for young people working with technology. My daughter participated in Techstart's computer programming competition for high schoolers, held yearly on the campus of Willamette University, and through this participation she gained confidence working on a team of dynamic students, taking on supremely difficult programming tasks. Her experience was very positive. It helped her grow in skills to the extent that she was prepared to take on a summer internship at the University of Oregon's computer science department, something that would have been beyond her without the preparation of working on the programming team. My two experiences attending SuperQuest, the summers of 2009 and 2010, afforded me the opportunity to learn skills essential for the teaching of technology I do. I teach at Kennedy Middle School in Eugene, and while my assignment is teaching mathematics, I have developed two additional elective courses for students, one in Lego robotics, the other a mix of electricity, animation, and music. I gained exposure to the software needed for animation that first summer. Attending that event, held at Western Oregon University, I was astounded at the expertise the Techstart people had assembled for the conference. A broad range of topics were presented in the CS4HS program at that conference, many of particular interest to multi-level instruction, such as "Computer Science Unplugged" and discussions of equity issues. I settled in to a workshop introducing me to GameMaker, taught with skill, precision, and helpful flexibility. Leaving that conference I knew what my next steps would be to get started with setting up experiences for my middle schoolers. The summer of 2010 event held at Oregon State University once again brought many new topics to my attention, including a fascinating talk on cryptology. All speakers at that conference were exceptionally well-prepared. I particularly enjoyed the various experiences we were given to see the work done at that campus "up close" through talks by those teaching computer science and engineering, through tours of the robotics areas, and up-close talks with students at Oregon State working with robotics. The robotics workshop was extraordinary! Our instructors were first-rate, absolutely bursting with information and helpfulness. I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to programming in Robot-C, and building the robots, right down to the nitty-gritty of which parts to buy, how to troubleshoot potential difficulties, and insider tips on competition using this technology. Beyond the workshop, I've set dates for further attendance at Techstart events. It is convenient that these are scheduled at times I am able to come, and that various locations in Oregon are utilized. In the busy life of a teacher this scheduling and location choosing is crucial. Finally, those who staff Techstart clearly go out of their way to provide an exceptional experience for conference attendees. We had everything we needed, including great food, fun breaks in the action, and a really personal feeling between participants and staff. I especially liked the banquet opportunities, the chance this gave me to hang out with some people I'd not yet met, including a fabulous robotics team from Philomath, Oregon called the PHRED. Leaving Corvallis this summer I felt like I had been treated to a most wonderful event. Techstart absolutely "has its act together" when it comes to bringing us great experts in a delightful setting at a convenient time. I now know why others speak of attending SuperQuest events many summers in a row. I'll definitely be back next time.
I traveled more than 6000 miles to receive a 30 hours of the best training that I have been in touch in my 30 years of professional career. Not only the administrators of the event but also the trainers and volunteers gave the maximum of their strenghts to help participants. Now, I am more confident about to use technology and teaching Discrete Mathematics. I would like to have the opportunity to participate in a similar event again.
TechStart does an amazing job of bringing in the best people who really know their stuff, and who are willing to share and guide other teaching professionals to greater successes in the classroom. I left wanting more and added many tools to my classroom toolkit! I am excited to incorporate the ideas and techniques into my daily lesson plans!
Techstart put together a computer programming game competition for middle school through high school students. This was my first year in the competition. Techstart did a fantastic job from inception in February to the final prize awarded in May. My students were thrilled to be amongst hundreds of like-minded students. Their parents and myself were impressed with the scope of preparation and organization of the competition. My teams presented to 2 separate groups of professional programmers and game designers and also presented and listened to peer presentations as well. Techstart brought all of this together for a very reasonable participation fee ($50 per team). My students were inspired and excited to be part of such a great competition. Winning two awards was icing on the cake.
The SuperQuest TechStart training was wonderful! I went into the training knowing nothing to very little about FLL, gamemaker, and the Lego robotics. I am an after school educator that needed new ideas and cirriculum. I came out of the training with a new and positive mind-set, as well as the tools to grow and succeed in the after school programs.
I have been teaching for 3 years and just when I thought some of my initial interest and experience began to wain I was reinvigorated. Never before had I thought Robotics could serve our students in so many manners. When it comes to workplace skills, subject matter engagement, personal growth and exploration, interaction with difficult science content, and the overall hands-on technology education Techstart is supreme! I have grown as a teacher, as a person and as a learner of science. School has not even began and I have parent volunteers who are calling me! I have a list of 18 students who searched for me during registration because they are so excited about my new curriculum (and we have not even began school)! This was a huge benefit and I will be sure to come to every Techstart Superquest I can from now on! Thank you for the opportunity! --Stacey Johnson Science Teacher at Junction City High School