We were honored to present at the MassCUE (Computer Using Educators) Conference on October 25th at Gillette Stadium. Anusha Datar from the Class of 2017 joined seniors Nirmal Patel and Melanie Thibodeau to demonstrate some of the projects we have worked on during the past year. Unfortunately, Eddie Reis from the Class of 2017 could not make it to show his AR Sandbox project, but he was with us in spirit. The students did an amazing job, and here are some photos and their reflections of the event.
My name is Anusha Datar. I was one of the many help desk senior interns last spring, and I currently am studying electrical and computer engineering at Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (we generally just call it Olin), which is a really small school in Needham, MA that focuses really heavily on providing an innovative engineering education experience: most of our courses are project-based and at least partially experimental. I recently went to the MassCUE Conference to display the work I did over the course of my internship. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with Burlington students, faculty, and staff and to speak to individuals involved in the education community.
The conference was a huge production, with endless tables full of vendors, nonprofits, and schools and back-to-back seminars. Even through the buzzword-saturated taglines and tweets, it was clear that most educators attending were determined to incorporate more technology into their districts’ classrooms that optimized for both student experience and outcomes. Most of the vendors advertised products which promised to improve student performance on standardized tests while promoting creative engagement, and many of the sessions focused on creating physical spaces and curricular structures where students could drive their own learning but still meet necessary benchmarks and gain valuable skills.
Listening to the educators talk about their struggles and triumphs in trying to provide an equitable and compelling student experience while ensuring that their students did learn about something makes me extremely thankful for my BHS help desk experience. My project let me explore a part of engineering I’m really interested in (particularly, embedded software), but I still could take advantage of the school’s resources and faculty. I created my own project plan very deliberately to maximize the quality of the final product and the amount of new information I learned and skills I gained, but I still had a challenging schedule of deliverables which I worked hard to meet because I knew that if I failed to meet those standards, my own learning experience would be compromised. Now that I’m at Olin, a school intentionally built on the principles of self-directed hands-on learning in context, I’m incredibly thankful that I got to have this experience of working independently on a project in the area I am passionate about while I was still in high school.