When speaking about the 2018 CFISD Student Technology Festival, R3: Rethink, Recreate, Redefine, Becky Cook, director of instructional technology, beams with pride when discussing two main points about the event and its nine-year history.
First is the fact that the projects, demonstrations and showcase items displayed by nearly 1,000 CFISD students April 12 at the Berry Center were the same projects, demonstrations and showcase items they work on in the classroom.
“These aren’t extra projects,” Cook said. “These are things that happen every day in our classrooms. What we love is being able to allow our kids to come here and have parents, community members and whoever see all the work that they’ve done.”
Second is the growth experience in less than a decade. The festival started with 200 students at Cypress Ridge High School’s cafeteria and a minimal crowd.
More than 4,100 total guests visited the ninth edition, seeing displays that not only canvassed the entire arena, but the atrium and conference center as well.
“Every year, I have people that come up to me and say, ‘I had no idea,’” Cook said. “They’ll walk through the arena, come out and say, ‘I didn’t know we did automotive, I didn’t know we did Cisco Networking or health sciences.’
“And for others who have been around for nine years, they’re not shocked. They’ve seen this over and over again, and they’ve seen the growth.”
The event is a districtwide celebration of student technology projects and curriculum offerings with students in grades pre-K through 12 showcasing the use of technology in the classroom. Students demonstrated devices, software and programs to help solve problems, simulated collaboration inside and outside the classroom and modeled products they created using technology.
As technology evolves, so does the festival and its projects.
The 2018 event featured an exhibit making its debut, with Tipps Elementary School pre-K students showcasing Bee Bots, a bumblebee-looking robot that maneuvers around an activity mat after it’s programed through coding by the students. The students, many only 4 years old, program the bot to move across the mat, learning shapes, letters and numbers in addition to coding, team-building, language and social skills.
“It’s amazing and everybody is into this,” said Yasmin Ahmad, a Tipps pre-K teacher. “They’ve never done this coding system before and never done this technology in pre-K. We have other technology in our classrooms as well, but this technology is more hands-on. They are directing the Bee Bot themselves and coding the Bee Bot themselves.”
And like many other events and showcases throughout the school year, the Technology Festival is just another example of CFISD offering opportunities for every student.
“From 4 years old all the way to seniors, there is something that will pique somebody’s interests,” Cook said. “It’s all about exposing our students to everything so that they have lots of choices when they decide a path.”