Fall 2017 Edition

New year. New format. Same great content.

Welcome to the latest edition of the Tech Spotlight! For the past 12 years, we have relied on previous technologies that have helped our publication grow to what it is today. In all that time, we have strived to put out a monthly issue filled with NHCSD's tech triumphs. In an effort to streamline the publication for our avid readers, we have moved to a simpler, modern format brought to you by MailChimp. We hope you enjoy the new New Hartford Tech Spotlight.  Each season, we'll deliver new issues packed with new tech tips, ideas, and resources.

Photo above: Sixth-grade students at Myles Elementary work with Computer Teacher Mr. Jeff Knapp to develop 3D models using Tinkercad.
Tech Success in the Classroom

Computer Club 3D Printing

Mr. Jeffrey Knapp intends to challenge his Computer Club students at Myles Elementary this year to solve some basic real-life problems with an assist from the district’s 3D printers. “I’d like students to create a tool that they need in their home that will make their lives easier,” Knapp said, “Perhaps a cell phone or tablet holder, a pencil holder, or organizer for their desks.” How will Mr. Knapp guide students to rise to the challenge? Through a project-based learning experience that he and members of the Occupation Education Department have developed over the last two years.

The idea to leverage the 3D printers located in the Project Lead the Way Innovation Zone at the Senior High occurred to Knapp and colleagues at a department meeting. “We discussed the excitement we saw on children’s faces at the Family SpringSTEAM Fair when Mr. Von Dauber demonstrated the whole design and print process,” Knapp recalled. “The students at his station were able to take home a finished product, a plastic 3D printed miniature robot, which was real proof of their learning that day.” The next step for Knapp was to determine how to make a process once reserved for Senior High pre-engineering students easily accessible to elementary school students. Tinkercad software became an important tool in his journey.

Tinkercad is a user-friendly online tool that allows novices to learn the principles of 3D drawing and design.   Knapp introduced the software to students informally, allowing them to experiment with it when the club met or during free time during the school day. The software became so popular that interest in Computer Club membership immediately increased. Soon, many students were designing simple household tools, such as keychains or nameplates, that were sent to Mr. Von Dauber’s 3D print shop for final production.

Mr. Knapp discovered that students learn critical life skills while working on 3D projects. For instance, students that have become so conditioned by an instantaneous culture found that they had to wait for their finished products to be manufactured at the Innovation Zone. That’s because 3D printers construct objects layer by layer, sometimes taking hours to print a simple gadget. Along with the virtue of patience, Knapp argues that there is another positive aspect of waiting for their final product. “Once students realized that it took a couple days for their design to be delivered, they really started to put more care and attention into their design process. While waiting for the final product to print out only added to their overall excitement, they knew that they would waste valuable time if they didn’t put forth their best effort right from the beginning,” Knapp suggested.  Knapp’s observation is something his colleagues in related curricula have noticed, especially in Novel Engineering and DELTA STEM. When students are immersed in a project-based learning environment they often have a chance to reflect on their learning during the overall process. This readies them to make the necessary modifications to improve their next design.

Knapp’s elementary school colleagues Christine Raynard and Matthew Arnold have also experimented with 3D design software as part of their computer clubs and curriculum. To learn more about this exciting process, contact the Technology department.
Tech Tip of the Month

New Updates to Google Slides

Google Slides has just released some compelling new features that make it even better to create a professional looking presentation in no time. First of all, the productivity tool gained some helpful new options for viewing your slide decks. For example, you can now choose a grid view to see your slides at once as thumbnails, (see circled area in the screenshot below). You can also mark slides to skip in a presentation without having to delete them.

In terms of content development, there is now a full menu of diagrams you can insert into your slides. This is great for when you need to effectively share timelines, flowcharts, and the like. Also helpful is the ability to link slides from another presentation to save time from copying them over and also ensuring both decks are in sync and up to date.

Next, in terms of fleshing out your slides, there's a new integration between Google Keep and Slides, so you can drag your rough ideas and notes into Keep right into your deck to make them a reality. Likewise, when you add a note from Keep into your presentation, Slides will automatically add a title and description for you.

Last but certainly not least, Slides also gained support for add-ons that let you quickly drop in content without having to bring it in from a separate website. You can add interactive content from Pear Deck or even stock photos from Adobe, Shutterstock or Unsplash. For power users, there's now Apps Script for Slide supports that lets you automatically fetch data and otherwise spare you from repetitive tasks.

With so many great updates in Slides, you are sure to find something that will be helpful and useful as you put the tool into action as an instructor or as your students use the tool as part of your classroom instruction.

STEAM in Action

Maker Moment

"My students really dove into this origami makerspace activity after having a chance to check out new books. They not only concentrated on producing great designs but were able to bring their creation home with them!" ­­­­
—Adrienne Ciampi, Bradley Elementary Library Media Specialist
VEX Robotics Club: Coming Soon!

A new extracurricular activity, VEX Robotics, is coming this year for students grades 7-12.  Students engage in creative, problem-solving activities that draw on a number of practical and critical thinking skills. For more information about this program, contact Mr. Shawn Nagel at snagel@nhart.org or find him at Perry Junior High or the Senior High!
Training and Events

Upcoming Training

There are lots of tech workshops planned now that the school has begun. Log into My Learning Plan today and see the latest offerings!

Missed An Issue?

Every past issue of the New Hartford Tech Spotlight can be found online. Just click here and take a look!

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Provided quarterly by Mike Amante with James Davis.

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