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Every student at John Jay Middle School participates in technology education—the use of math and science to solve real world problems. The grade-level classes are part of the school’s Unified Arts Department along with home and careers and art.
Students spend ten days in each class and continue rotating through the cycle of classes throughout the year; allowing for focused project-based learning.
“The engineering design process drives technology instruction much in the same way that the scientific method drives science classes,” said Carolyn Kelly, sixth and seventh grade technology teacher. "Students love the hands-on learning activities. Many times, students who have trouble focusing in traditional learning environments excel in our classes."
Sixth grade technology education students in Carolyn Kelly’s classes are studying circuitry and electronics with lab activities in each of these areas.
LittleBits electronic building blocks have been a part of the sixth grade technology education curriculum at John Jay Middle School for several years. This year, Kelly introduced her students to a new activity combining circuitry, electronics and robotics. Students built littleBits Droid robots which they connected to iPads or phones enabling them to “drive” and race their robots. In building the robots, students gained an understanding of power supply, input and output devices, lights, sensors, motors and gears.
Tina Russo is the Instructional Leader for technology at both the middle and high schools, which allows her to develop middle school curriculum that supports what students will need to pursue robotics or architecture at the high school level.
“Students learn building and computer skills as well as a common vocabulary,” said Russo. She teaches seventh grade technology as well as Design and Draw for Production, the high school’s foundation course for the architecture and engineering tracks.
"I love the creativity of technology classes," said Russo. "Students are excited to design, build, and test things that they've made."
"I like to think of my curriculum like a tour of engineering," said Evan Lucieer, eighth grade technology teacher. "Students experience a little of everything from civil engineering, energy transportation, innovation, and rocketry to computer science."
Lucieer also leads the popular engineering/robotics club at the middle school. "The club is an opportunity for students to challenge themselves in terms of designing, innovating, and helping in our community," said Lucieer. "One group of students is taking a pre-existing robot and incorporating pieces from a different robot in order to program it. Another group is working on building a picnic table to enhance our student recess area. Other students are building robots from scratch and programming them to conduct different tasks."