El Cajon’s IDEA Center High School students tech up projects to the next level
When going to museums, many interactive displays interact by touch. When walking into a store a bell rings notifying the owner there is a customer there. Push a remote and a garage door opens. This is the type of project that students at IDEA Center High School are tackling, and in these projects, accomplishing something no one in the world has before. Not only that, it prepares students for viable jobs in the future with the knowledge of advanced technology.
Innovation Design Exploration Achievement is the design behind IDEA Center High School in El Cajon. Part of the Grossmont Union High School District comprehensive schools, it is all about small classrooms, innovation and hands on student learning. In its first year, its population is 200 9th through 12th students and growing. As a District’s alternative choice school students can choose to go to from within the District or outside of it.
Diann Kueny, digital arts career technical education teacher, said the school focuses on career education with the objective of coming out of the Pathway with actual skills students can transfer into the industry.
“This is a school for kids that want to work with curriculum that a larger school might not work for them. It gives them a nice one-on-one student learning experience,” she said
Kueny teaches a multimedia class where students are learning different types of presentations that include digital media along with physical projects. For the first time ever, her class linked a physical project to digital media. Various parts of student presentation are linked to digital videos from their Chromebooks.
This is possible through the collaboration between Kueny and Roger Wagner, CUE (Computer Using Educators) board member, software and instructional design. Wagner works at the state level and Kueny is a 20 year CUE member.
“This was a collaborative effort, and referred to each other to see this new thing that Roger is doing,” she said. “Because we are a new school and everything is hands on and we have small classrooms it was perfect beta testing situation. It’s perfect having Mr. Wagner here being a creator and inventor of the project so they are doing marketing, designing, beta testing, learning the pros and cons of if it does work you can fix it.”
Wagner started working in the personal computing community 30 years ago on Pioneer Way with Roger Wagner Publishing, designing HyperStudio, a software for creating projects. After selling the business, he remained active in educational technology.
Wagner said over the past few years there has been something moving forward called the maker’s movement.
“It is pretty cool with kids kind of taking back control of their world in a technology consumer world,” he said. “In this project we are working with a little computer board called an Arduino, and open-source electronics platform based on easy to use hardware and software. it is intended for anyone making interactive projects.”
Wagner said the Arduino is like a little computer with memory, inputs and outputs.
“What’s happening in schools is the idea that kids can make things in projects that are important with STEM and STEAM education,” he said. “The maker movement is totally compatible and energizing with that idea because students can start using wires and microcontrollers and build robotics, be involved in science technology and math while doing something cool.”
“It’s simple, the board has the resistors and cable arrangement where it can only plug in one way and run the wired to the project,” he said. “HyperStudio is not used in this particular project, but with the HyperDuino what this does allow for the first time is allows students to take digital content they have created, in this case videos and link it in both directions to physical projects they’ve made. In this case they are using YouTube videos about their subjects, with the students working on literature, the history of hip-hop, and art.”
Each student selected their topic. Their goal was to create an interactive display of digital content about their subject. In short, videos can control lights and sensors can control videos. If the video is playing, the light is on. If you touch the sensor, it starts the video on Chromebooks.
Wagner said the students are excited about this project because they realize they are the first in the world doing this. They are in the process of seeing it in actual use. They are learning how to program, working with light sensors and they’ve learned a huge amount about how computers interact with every day devices used throughout the world. This is a global collaboration with the programmer in Australia, so in the day we’re here in the classroom testing things and he works on it during the night so in the morning they have a new version with all the bugs fixed.
“Every little detail of this project has been amazing,” he said. “You can connect laptops and computers to an Arduino easily, but no one has ever done this with Chromebooks.”
Joseph Deeunzo, 16, junior and his partner Estrella Herrera did their project on creative writing. Herrera likes writing and Deeunzo liked art, so they made a project with the HyperDuino. It works as a link between video and a physical model. It uses LEDs and sensors to play a video or show a document.
“For graphic poetry, once I touch the sensor, the LED comes on and the video starts playing on the Chromebook,” said Deeunzo. “For example, if you touch the Edgar Allen Poe sensor, it links to the audio version of “The Raven.” It took us about a week to put this project together. I learned that programming is a lot harder than you would think, so there were a lot of bumps and problems we had to work through. But the outcome is awesome with these two products together.”
Zach Solorzano, 18, senior and Joshua Carter, 14, freshman focused or art. Solorzano said once completed it is easy to operate. Solorzano said it can be used with video games, music, tutorials and much more.
“Touch the sensor, see the accompanying video,” he said. “We worked with different styles of art.”
Carter said it took three days for them to complete their project to successfully connect the video to the sensors and vice versa.
“It’s the sort of thing you can get into it, and the document tutorial made for the project gives step by step directions on how to make it work,” he said.
Noah Larive, 16, junior and Jackson Puckett, 14, freshman linked to Elders Scrolls online game and their sensors correspond with different parts of the game. Larive said it took about a week to put their project together. He said it overrides many software programs and he does not see anyone else using this type of program for any use, with the exception of a few museums he has visited.