High-tech learning gaining STEAM in Hampton schools

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Hampton Township School District's classrooms look different than they did when the district started 150 years ago, and the high-tech nature of learning will be on display at a special technology exposition next week.

The Talbot Township Techno Tour, better known as T4, brings all of the district's technology used in kindergarten through 12th-grade to one place for two evenings, April 10 and 11.

The event will highlight this year's theme “Picks up STEAM” by featuring how technology is used in the classroom in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, which creates the acronym STEAM.

This is the third biennial T4 event, which started in 2009 as a joint project between the district and township.

“It began as a way to help us communicate with the larger community how school is evolving and how we are integrating technology,” said Jo Welter, school district assistant superintendent.

“The technology is a rather large (portion of the) budget in this district, and we wanted to make sure the taxpayers knew how the money was spent and showcase what the teachers are doing in the classroom.”

The district hosts the technology exposition every other year, opposite a district wide art show.

This year the district T4 event will feature 64 exhibits that will include interactive exhibits and a wide variety of technology.

One of the newest additions to the district's technology roster is the 3D printer, which will be demonstrated at the T4 event.

The printer was purchased through a $20,000 STEAM grant through The Center for Creativity, Arts and Technology and provided by the Grable and Benedum Foundations and is housed at the middle school in a fabrication lab within the technology education department to augment the engineering and design classes.

The 3D printers have the ability to create a 3D object from a digital model.

The event also will feature a series of video conferences, including one with San Diego zookeepers and their baby animals, performances by a band playing instruments on iPods, a photo booth and the Dance Dance Revolution video game.

There also will be prizes available to any visitor who walks through the door and receives a winning holographic image and concessions for purchase for visitors who skip dinner to attend the event or stay for the duration of the exposition.

“It takes on a very engaging, not carnival, but entertaining atmosphere,” said Ed McKaveney, the district technology director of the elaborate event.

In honor of the school district's 150th anniversary, The Saturday Light Brigade radio show staff will be at the event to record Hampton residents' experiences in the school district for the program's Neighborhood Voices project.

The technology exposition is open to Hampton students, parents and community members as well as outside educators and university students who are looking for an inside look at how technology is used in the classroom today.

“It's a chance to see technology in its use at all levels all in one place,” McKaveney said.

“For us it highlights how rigorous our curriculum is … I think it's very systemic and well-integrated through the entire curriculum. Whether it's art or science, we have technology used in a myriad of ways.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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