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Review for Techstart Education Foundation, Portland, OR, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

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've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my improved teaching, my daughter's fine programming competition experience, and my chance to meet others who share my passion for teaching technology.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the quality of its conferences: excellent in every way!

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

helpful, ready to share knowledge, fun people to get to know, and exceptionally hard working!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the world of education in a profound way.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


Role:  Client Served & attended two Techstart summer events: SuperQuest 2009 and SuperQuest 2010.