The students at the Frisco ISD Student Opportunity Center (SOC) are discovering how to make their ideas and future come to life through technology and innovation.
The students spent two class days in December exploring and creating as part of the Teamwork and Technology program sponsored by the Frisco Education Foundation Grants for Great Ideas program and Nokia.
The SOC serves students who for various reasons need to catch up academically, who may have moved from out-of-state and need credits, or who want to graduate early because of life situations. While technology and career skills are taught in classes within FISD high schools, this was a rare opportunity to interact with professionals from so many different fields, explained Dana Racanelli, assistant principal. This unique opportunity provides students at the SOC insights to different career paths that otherwise they may not have been exposed to, she said.
“The world is being transformed by the use of technology beyond our imagination. The Frisco Education Foundation (FEF) Grants for Great Ideas Program and Nokia is committed to helping students at the Student Opportunity Center (SOC) develop the skills necessary to succeed in a technologically transforming world,” said Allison Miller, Director of the Frisco Education Foundation. The program is a STEAM (Science, Technology, Art and Math) initiative and Grants for Great Ideas awards funding to educators for programs that enhance curriculum.
Miller also noted that the Foundation is dedicated to supporting all FISD students. The Student Opportunity Center plays a vital role in helping at-risk students graduate from high school. Encouraging the SOC students to explore career options is vital to their future.
Teamwork and Technology brought together professionals from Nokia, the local Microsoft Store, The Frisco Public Library, Sci-Tech Discovery’s Maker Space, iCode, ComeHome Technology Solutions, and the Movie Institute, to share computer networking, soldering circuit boards, 3D printing, videography, network creation and solutions, coding and game design, movie filming, and even how to do a safe stunt roll for a movie.
The Frisco ISD-TV broadcast instructor, Eva Coleman, and some of her students were also involved in the activities, explaining about careers in broadcasting and videography, while working on piece about the program. “I enjoyed leading students in a morning demo session on shooting video with iPads, making the most out of the device they are given and best practices for shot types and variety to help tell their story. In addition, Frisco ISD-TV crew members were on-hand to capture footage of the TNT experience and get interviews from participants,” Coleman said
The activities were designed to spark interests in future careers, increase creativity, and inspire the students who struggle in a traditional classroom setting.
Thomas Finley of the Frisco Public Library was thrilled to have his staff introduce the students to classes and tools that can be utilized at the local library: lessons and activities in networking, coding, game design, robotics, stop motion animation, etc.
“It is important for us (Library professionals) to be technology guides, to help people see what’s out there. The underlying reason for this program is really serious,” he said, explaining the need for a workforce that can adapt to changing technology and see innovation coming. “But it also happens to be fun.”
Peter Burns of Nokia and an FEF board member and past president said he was excited to see so many students energized by their experience. “We gave them the box and then let them take it apart and see what’s in the box,” he said. “They learned about servers, hard drives, circuit boards.” Seeing what’s in the box and doing activities that bring engineering and technology to life is the goal of Teamwork and Technology.
In the room with the volunteers from Microsoft, students spent an hour learning the basics of coding, creating and customizing simple Minecraft game programs. The ComeHome Technology volunteers had students deconstructing and learning about Cat5 and fiber optics and what is involved in building and securing a network. The library volunteers were demonstrating 3D printing, robotics, and stop motion animation with Minecraft characters. All weretasks encouraging students to put their ideas into action.
“Robotics can be for children but it can be used by adults too. We offer technology with wide appeal. You can scaffold it up to a higher level for older teens and adults,” Finley said. “We need to be knowledge guides. There is so much information out there that everyone has but we need to build entrepreneurial learners who can interpret the information and turn it into knowledge.”
The Frisco Education Foundation will continue to look for programs involving professionals and business partners that bring real-world experience to students. “FEF thanks Nokia for underwriting this particular grant for Teamwork and Technology and making a difference in the lives of FISD students,” Miller said.