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Inventing the Future: One Mouse Caddy at a Time

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Inventing the Future: One Mouse Caddy at a Time

Maggie Strawoet (12) and Jade Wolfe (11) stand by their table presenting their invention at one of the competitions.

Maggie Strawoet (12) and Jade Wolfe (11) stand by their table presenting their invention at one of the competitions.

Erin Martin

Maggie Strawoet (12) and Jade Wolfe (11) stand by their table presenting their invention at one of the competitions.

Erin Martin

Erin Martin

Maggie Strawoet (12) and Jade Wolfe (11) stand by their table presenting their invention at one of the competitions.

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Students from Mrs. Erin Martin’s (Faculty) classes have put their brains together to hatch up a plan for an invention. They will then compete in a competition for entrepreneurship and inventions. During these competitions, many different ideas and inventions are competed for a prize. The “Mouse Caddy” has gotten Jade Wolfe (11) and Maggie Strawoet (12) through many rounds of judges and more to come.

 

“We created the Mouse Caddy, which is a device that attaches to the backside of your laptop screen to hold your cordless mouse,” said Strawoet.

 

Their invention has been exhibited at a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Competition in New Oxford, PA. Also, Wolfe and Strawoet put together a business plan which explains its purpose and expenses of the Mouse Caddy. The business plan has gotten through the first step at Lock Haven and will be sent higher up to state-level.

 

“We started brainstorming idea for our product and beginning the planning period around the end of September,” said Wolfe. “We really started to focus on designing and building since November and have continued to work on it since then.”

 

The work that goes into this project reflects the students’ creativity and how to make their ideas come to life. Students had to not only invent their creation but also formally express it and put it into words.

 

“We have created 2 display boards, a PowerPoint, a video or commercial, and a 1,000 word paper,” said Strawoet. “We also created multiple prototypes of our Mouse Caddy out of silicon, thermoplastic, and a 3D printer.”

 

Erin Martin

 

A panel of judges then grades the invention which determines if it advances on to the next level in any of the competitions.

 

“It depends on what competition it is, but usually the judges grade us off of some type of rubric,” said Wolfe.

 

On top of impressing the judges, they also face the competition from students from other schools that compete with their inventions. It gives them a chance to see what they are competing against, and what other cool inventions are being created.

 

“My favorite I’ve seen would have to be this magic mirror a group did,” said Strawoet. “It was basically a smart mirror because it had the time and the weather and all these cool features.”

 

Putting their heads together has helped them improve and continue to get better as they attend more and more competitions to compete with their inventions.

 

“Jade and I also have been able to work very well as a team. We know our deadlines and when things need to get done, we get it done,” said Strawoet. “We have worked well together throughout these competitions. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and that is something that will help us win these competitions.”

 

By using their skills to work together and successfully present their ideas to judges, these competitions have given the students plenty of opportunities to open up and get out of their comfort zone.

 

“I’ve really learned public speaking and also problem solving,” said Wolfe.

All the way since September, Strawoet and Wolfe have perfected their prototypes and ideas, but what is the end result? What is in it for them?

 

“Prizes depend on the competition we’re going to. Some are Amazon gift cards, and some are just money,” said Strawoet. “Normally there is some type of trophy or plaque”.

 

Wolfe and Strawoet are using their skills to continue competing in various other competitions. On March 28 and 29, Wolfe and Strawoet travel to Bloomsburg and then the State College.

 

They also have the opportunity to go to Harrisburg to the State Capitol where they will just present their products and try to sell them. Wolfe and Strawoet will continue to compete with the Mouse Caddy at many other competitions in the future.

 

Ag Olympics Get Students and Faculty MOOving

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Ag Olympics Get Students and Faculty MOOving

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From blue and gold day to kissing cows, the FFA had a very eventful week. As the week went on with different dress up days they all led to the big event that everyone looked forward to: The Ag Olympics. This photo gallery gives and inside look of what happens when cows and hay bales are involved. Students and faculty participate in various events to test their strength and determination to beat the other teams. This (sometimes) friendly event gets the student body on their toes to see which teacher raised the most money and will kiss the cow and who will win the Ag Olympics.

Coding vs. Programming: What’s The Difference?

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Coding vs. Programming: What’s The Difference?

Showing him something on the computer, Mr. Brooks (Faculty) teaches Ty Robinson (10) a new concept.

Showing him something on the computer, Mr. Brooks (Faculty) teaches Ty Robinson (10) a new concept.

Showing him something on the computer, Mr. Brooks (Faculty) teaches Ty Robinson (10) a new concept.

Showing him something on the computer, Mr. Brooks (Faculty) teaches Ty Robinson (10) a new concept.

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The two computer terms, coding and programming, are words that we often use interchangeably without giving it much thought. Yes, they are correlated with each other but we rarely dive in deep to what each individual word truly means. Simple tasks such as setting your alarm clock, changing the radio station, or pressing the buttons on a microwave could lead to something even bigger in the immense world of technology. Writing code is only the start of creating software, and programming is where the process becomes extremely complex.

    

    The action of writing code is simply telling the computer what to do and how to function. Programming is putting all that information together and putting it to use.

 

    “Coding would be writing individual lines of information on a computer,” said Mr. Bill Brooks (Faculty), “and when it’s all compiled together, it creates one large program.”

 

   Although they sound similar, the jobs of coders and programmers are two vastly different things. The job of a coder is at a much more intermediate level than that of a programmer. It involves writing singular lines of code, while translating the computer language to the language you and I speak.

 

    “When you are coding, you are truly writing the code that maybe the everyday person wouldn’t understand,” said Mrs. Erin Martin (Faculty).

 

As for the job of the programmer, it requires a more advanced skillset. A programmer makes sure a machine or application runs efficiently without any mistakes. Making sure there are no errors is crucial to the machine correctly running as one large program. Making an error can ruin all of the computer coding that has already been done. The coding has to already be complete so that the programmer’s job can begin.

 

    “Before the programming can be done, somebody had to code it kind of in the background,” said Martin.

Working hard, Joshua Frey (10) sets up a code for his program.

    At James Buchanan High School, there is a computer science class offered that is taught by Brooks. During class, his students learn about the basic outline of coding and put it into practice. Brooks then teaches his students about compiling the codes together to make one large program. This program, if done correctly, would allow a machine to work effectively.

 

    “We write a lot of codes to make the program run correctly,” said Brooks talking about what activities happen daily, in his computer science class.

 

    Striving for greatness, the teachers in the technology education department hope to see a dramatic advance in the computer knowledge of students. As time passes, they feel that the coding and programming that is usually done behind the scenes, will start to be done by the consumers themselves.

 

    “Just like, years ago, we used to hire people to do typing. Now everybody does their own typing,” said Brooks, “Presently, we hire people to code, but in the future, people are going to start writing their own codes to make programs do what they want for their unique application.”

 

    If you have ever heard of the two terms, the line between coding and programming has always been blurred by assumption that they mean the same thing. The teachers of the technology education department, Mr. Brooks and Mrs. Martin, have been trying to teach their students the vast difference so that they may be able to do it on their own someday. They hope for the computer-based knowledge in the teenagers they teach to expand greatly as they learn more and more concepts.

“Houston, We’re Ready For Take Off!”

Learn about the new Voyager Program coming next year at JB

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Three…two…one…blast off! During the 2018-2019 school year, the Voyager Program will be launched at James Buchanan High School.

 

The Voyager Program is a self-driven class for students, which includes three different disciplines: English, Social Studies and Art. Students will be coming up with their own projects that encompass these subjects. The program is worth three credits, one for each subject.

 

Mrs. Kayla Chambers-Matulevich(Faculty), one of the five coordinating teachers of the program, said “One of the examples we gave was a student built a bass guitar. So with that, he would write a paper maybe on the history of bass guitars, but then he also found music and wrote music for it.”

 

The Voyager Program is made up of a lot of open-ended work that is done in the students’ own time. Students will be tasked with completing two projects a marking period for two marking periods. It is compared to college, where students do a lot of learning on their own, but they also have to manage their time. To help students, the coordinators set up weekly journals where students have to report their progress. They are also hoping for at least one class period where students can come to any of the coordinators and receive time and help on their projects.

 

“This could really benefit students that might not learn perfectly in a regular classroom setting,” said Chambers.

 

Rather, students learn school subjects through what they love and have an interest in. Some students do not excel in the typical classroom setting, but the Voyager Program enables students to learn in a different environment.

 

“For example, when I was in high school, I would have excelled in a program like this, but that’s because I could have focused on art and then learned the history and English related to it,” said Chambers.

 

Mr. Rodney Benedick (Principal) first found this idea form Central York High School’s Apollo Program, where each student has their own tailored way of learning. Several teachers became interested, including Mrs. Danielle Fox (Faculty) for English, Ms. Jena Antonelli (Faculty) for Social Studies, and Mrs. Erin Martin (Faculty) and Chambers for the Arts. The program is being led by Mr. Michael Mele (Faculty).

 

In the end, the teachers involved are looking for what students can take away from this program. They feel this program can help prepare students for life outside of high school and into college. They hope to have fifteen students this next year to make the program really take off.

 

“We are looking for any driven student. I don’t think there is any cookie-cutter student for this program and I think that’s what’s great about it,” said Chambers. “If you are driven and willing to put in the work, willing to grow as a student and to work with your teacher mentors, I think that’s the ideal student.”

 

The teachers and staff here at JB are looking forward to seeing how this program does next year and years to come, hoping learning can reach new heights.

 

Breaking Out

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Breaking Out

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Times are changing and with technology on the rise, students are becoming more and more tech-savvy. Teachers are innovating new ways to keep their students engaged in the classroom: gamification of the classroom, or using games to enhance student learning, has been getting very popular more recently.

 

A way teachers are gamifying their classrooms is by using digital breakouts. Teachers at James Buchanan have been beginning to use these for an entertaining way to review material. Mrs. Emily Poffenberger (Faculty), Ms. Kelley Reeder (Faculty), and Ms. Nicole Myers (Faculty), and Mrs. Erin Martin (Faculty) have all found their own ways to use digital breakouts.

 

This idea was inspired by escape rooms that can be found throughout the United States. A group of individuals are put into a room where they have to use clues to unlock puzzles and riddles to “escape.”

 

“I heard of them when the escape room started becoming a pretty big thing,” Myers said. “Once we had the idea of the Escape Room we started coming up with ways we could use them in the classroom.”

 

Digital breakouts have been created for education. Teachers can create their own or use ones they find online. These escape rooms have puzzles, riddles, and questions based on what their class may be learning.

 

Poffenberger, a Biology teacher, uses digital breakouts in her classroom to review material learned before a test.

 

“I use digital breakouts by having students solve different codes I have on a Google Form,” Poffenberger said. “They solve those codes using different resources that I make available to them. Some resources are embedded with links online, some are within resources I have handed them to help them unlock the different locks.”

 

The English Department used their digital breakout to prepare for the Keystone exam and media bias, using newspaper articles from the time of Jack the Ripper. In their final review of the unit, students had to go through a journey to prove their innocence to getting out of jail.

 

“They had to escape from being prosecuted by the people of Whitechapel, London. They had to convince the guard they were innocent, using persuasive appeals. Then they had to figure out the layout of the jail and how to get out of that,” Myers said. “They had to figure out different puzzles to then get on a boat, and codes to get into the governor’s house and convince him they are innocent.”

 

 

Students breakout of these situations by being able to complete questions they have already learned in class and using their brains for advanced thinking.

 

“We worked with the idea of author’s claim, author’s purpose, and author’s bias,” Myers said.

 

It is not easy to create your own digital breakout, Myers and Reeder found. There were a lot of steps to take in making their digital breakout successful and how they wanted it.

 

“We already had the idea to do this, but then we got the chance to go to a Google Summit workshop where we got to see it in action first,” Myers said. “We luckily had a snow day after so I could build it all. That was our big push, we had the time, and we had the endurance.”

 

There are also websites you can find pre-existing digital breakouts that you can buy or use in your classroom. Poffenberger used the website,  Teachers Pay Teachers for her first digital breakout. Teachers can create their own digital breakout and allow other teachers to buy what they have created.

 

Digital breakouts cannot only be used to teach material learned in class, but also life skills.

 

“It teaches them to not be dependent on a teacher, but trying to figure it out on their own with the technology, tools, and the peer they have with them,” Myers said. “It really teaches students problem-solving skills and relationship skills.”

 

Gamification is about creating a fun atmosphere for learning so that students do not actually realize that learning is taking place. Digital breakouts are not just a resource for teachers to review material they have taught but also allow students to have fun while also learning.

 

“The best part of the day is when my kids say, ‘Ms. Myers, that was really fun.’” Myers said.

 

With the times always changing teachers must be on top of what works best for students when it comes to reviewing material. With digital games at the fingertips of students at all times, a digital breakout can allow students to have fun while also using their video game skills and skills they learned in the classroom.

 

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