Thousands attend Tech Expo to see how local students use technology
by Michelle Gehlman-Teeter
“Would you like to learn about Dream Box?” politely asked an elementary school-aged girl, who walked up to me as I paused looking around the swarming crowd at Showare Center.
“Sure,” I smiled as she led me over to the Millennium Elementary booth.
I was at the 11th annual Kent Technology Expo hosted by the Kent School District on January 19, 2017. It was sponsored by the Boeing Company, Washington FIRST Robotics and Blue Origin along with many others.
The Tech Expo showcases how students gain college and career skills through classroom projects using technology tools. At the event, students and teachers demonstrated technology in use, spoke about what they’ve learned, and asked attendees to get involved by solving a problem, completing a task or building a device with student presenters. Last year, more than 4,200 people attended the Expo and more than 800 students and 154 teachers presented at 102 booths.
Samira told me all about her booth’s presentation, a game called Dream Box. She told me it was for ages kindergarten and up and its purpose was to make math fun. With Dream Box, kids can earn game money to buy backgrounds and music to listen to while playing.
“It’s fun. You should play it,” she finished.
It was impressive how knowledgeable the kids were about what they were presenting, but even more impressive was that they were not shy about explaining it to people. You could tell they were excited about the technology involved.
A large display with painted portraits of different Greek mythological figures rose above its neighbors. The display was made by Sunrise Elementary students who were presenting on “interactive art.” Annalise showed me how an MP3 player was connected to all the portraits with copper tape. She then touched a spot under a portrait, and a recording about that portrait came out of the speaker. A lot of hard work and learning had been put into this project that blended fine art and technology.
Tyler from Horizon Elementary jumped up and asked if I knew about Mathsketball. The kids choose real NBA players and, based on their real life stats, do a new math challenge each week. The student with the highest average in the class wins a prize. Tyler bounced up and down the whole time he told me the details of this apparently exciting game.
East Hill Elementary presented Blended Learning. They had four stations, each with a different online resource. Emily told me about a Vocabulary Dictionary PowerPoint that they add to when they have new words. Diane explained Edmodo.com, which keeps students and teachers connected (it looked similar to Facebook). Bawy demonstrated that, using Weebly.com, his group made a website based on a book they read, each student making a page. Jenissi showed me i-ready.com, in which your lesson is individualized based on how you do on the tests included.
The Tech Expo wasn’t just for younger students, the upper grades were presenting as well. Fatamata explained the Cross-Cultural project she helped with at the Kent-Meridian Tech Academy. They researched how much time different age groups spent, on average, in front of the TV. They then made a video where twenty seconds equaled one hour of TV time. They had different age groups represented, staring into the camera as if it were the TV, and got up and left at their average time. It was a creative way of showing their results.
Also from the KM Tech Academy, was a presentation they called Fab Lab. It included classes for Laser Engraving, 3D Printing, CNC Routing, and 3D Computerized Machining, and had examples of students’ work. One example was a handmade banjo.
Kent Mountain View Academy presented National History Day, an in-depth research project and competition. Marcelo showed me the website he created about Prohibition in Washington State after months of research and interviews.
The Expo also highlighted local businesses and organizations that support the use of technology in education. These business sponsors and exhibitors helped demonstrate the connection between classrooms and careers.
The Kent Technology Expo allowed families, communities, businesses and taxpayers to see how technology is being used in the classrooms in the Kent School District. They observed students demonstrating their presentation skills to share the what, why and how of their learning. It provided local businesses a way to engage with staff and students, and allowed the community at large to invest in student learning and success.
At the information booth, I spoke with Shannon, who works for the Kent School Safety Services, and he summed up the event perfectly, “It’s all about the kids. They are a sponge and this plants the seeds for stuff we can’t even imagine.”
For more about the Tech Expo, search for this hashtag on social media: #KSDtechexpo.