PLAINFIELD – Two new classes at William B. Orenic Intermediate School are teaching students how to use technology in novel and creative ways – and proving popular with students.
Enhanced Technology, taught by Laura Kuettler, is a 12-week class that introduces sixth-graders to basic coding instruction and technical design using a 3-D printer, round Sphero robots and Lego Mindstorm command robots with programming interfaces.
“It’s part of our Explore Program that brings higher-level thinking skills to the students,” Kuettler said.
An example of a 3-D project in Kuettler’s classroom is to design and build a model of a town they named, Kuettlerville. 3-D printing uses a machine that makes three-dimensional solid objects from a digital computer aided design file. Hundreds of materials, such as metal, ceramics and wax can be used as the substrate. WBO’s printer uses plastic.
Each team of students will design a building of their choice then send the digital file to the printer, which produces the product.
Students Evelynn Mantia and Jomar Perez chose to design a mall for the town. They said the most difficult part was designing the sizes so the project turned out just right.
“I like the geometry part of it,” Evelynn said.
“I like learning how the design becomes a solid object,” Jomar said.
Jennifer Lipa teaches the other new WBO tech class – Digital Art. In the class, students use iPads and Mac computers to produce their own artwork by using drawings, animation, photography and audio recordings. They do create ceramic art the old-fashioned way, using their hands to shape their creations and a kiln to fix them, but they design the pieces digitally.
“We live in a technology-driven world,” Lipa said. “What we do in this class is allow them to use their creativity to make art with the assistance of technology. It’s something fun to do that can also eventually be a career.”
Sixth-graders Frank Martinez, Brooke Peters and Rylee Mielke said they love the class.
“I like getting to work with technology and have so many projects that are different,” Martinez said.
“I like that it’s so artsy and craftsy,” Peters said.
“You get to do so many different things than you do in other art classes,” Mielke said.
“These classes allow for students to be inventors, and they truly integrate new tech skills into the classroom content,” said Jenna Woodland, Troy Educational Technology Coordinator. “They turn classroom application into real life examples.”