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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.

 

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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.

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The Battle Between Textbooks and Technology: Who will Win?

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Back in the days when schools were different, students would use textbooks and pieces of paper from their notebook for their classwork. Some schools have started to lean toward technology, instead of using paper as classwork. At James Buchanan High School, there are many students that carry a laptop from class to class and not have to worry about carrying heavy textbooks home all the time because technology has improved over the years, the teaching style of some teachers altered.

 

“Most of what we do in class is online,” Ms. Nicole Myers (Faculty) said. “For most of our resources, I use Google Classroom to post assignments, I will use Actively Learn as one of our reading sources, and then Membean for all of our vocab.”

 

For Mr. Matthew Riegsecker (Faculty), he did not have to change his teaching style as much compared to Myers.

 

“We try to mix things up,” Riegsecker said. “The resources I use varies from the SmartBoard to their Chromebooks, to their textbooks, simulations, notes, projects, etc.”

 

Technology has improved over the years. Students use technology every single day, whether or not they are in school. Technology has been something that has adapted to everyday life, and now it has been implemented in schools.

 

“For one thing, technology is really quick,” Myers explained. “If I have one of those spur of the moment ideas, I do not have to run around and have it printed off and copied and stapled. I can push it out from Google Classroom through their Chromebooks.”

 

“I think that we have a district with a 1:1 initiative where students have Chromebooks. So we are expected to embrace that and also try to implement technology as much as we can,” Riegsecker said.

When classes are using technology, the textbooks tend to be out of sight. Some teachers like the idea of being able to find the textbooks online, while others think that having them in the classroom is still just as good.

 

“I have one book that I looked at my first year here. I use a couple of resources from it, but anything that’s in that book I can find online at this point,” Myers said. “I don’t like that much about textbooks at this point, but I will use the textbook if I run out of ideas.”

 

“The textbooks have a consistency in the information that is being presented to the students,” Riegsecker said. “We can all be on the same page as far as the content they are being delivered.”

The generation that kids are growing up in is different compared to the ways of their teachers. Students, on one hand, have a better understanding of what is going on and they have adapted to the way technology is used. Some students prefer having their classwork on paper, while others like the idea of having their classwork on their Chromebooks.

 

“I prefer the Chromebooks over the textbooks,” Danielle Barnhart (11) explains. “You have so much more information at your fingertips as opposed to carrying and lugging around like five textbooks.”

“I like textbooks because, especially for Math and History, whenever you are using them they are right there and you can flip the pages while you are doing your homework,” said Shaelyn Kaiser (11).  “I feel like our technology can kind of be unreliable.”

 

As students go from grade to grade, they will have other teachers that have either similar or different teaching styles to other teachers they have had in the past years. Because teachers don’t follow the same teaching styles, students start to adapt to the way teachers teach.

 

“I like most of the teaching styles,” Barnhart said. “I especially like the Ag classes because they are not exactly lecture style, but instead, they are more interactive.”

 

“I think that my favorite teaching style is lecturing,” Kaiser said.  “I like listening to things and I tend to listen by ear, which is the way I learn the best. I prefer everything to be physically in front of me because I always know that it [textbooks] is going to be there when I need it.”

 

Technology plays a role in formulating our future. In the late 1900s into early 2000s, technology was not nearly as complex as what it is now. During these years, teachers were starting to see the technology beginning to develop. When Myers was in college, she did not have the same technology students at James Buchanan have now. She was not taught how to use technology in her classes. It wasn’t until she started teaching at James Buchanan when she finally started to pick up on the idea of using technology within her classroom.

 

“Now I know more about technology and all that I do with it and I do not know how I would ever go backwards at this point,” Myers said. “Here, we have Chromebooks and we have this and we have that and I would eventually make it all work. I will never look back because it is way better.”

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The Robotic Future of James Buchanan

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The Robotic Future of James Buchanan

Kiersten Siko, 11, displays James Buchanan's drone in the Robotics club's workshop.

Kiersten Siko, 11, displays James Buchanan's drone in the Robotics club's workshop.

Kiersten Siko, 11, displays James Buchanan's drone in the Robotics club's workshop.

Kiersten Siko, 11, displays James Buchanan's drone in the Robotics club's workshop.

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Throughout the school year academics are praised, sport teams are highlighted, and every social event is brought to attention amongst the student body. However, lying behind the scenes is a small, yet upcoming club known as the Robotics club.

The Robotics club is a growing, high-tech club where a group of seven or eight students learn how to assemble and program different robots. The robot softwares used at James Buchanan are known as Vex and Boebots. The club also treasures their own drone, which is managed by the upperclassmen.

 

The drone is the biggest project the robotics club is currently working on. It is used to capture pictures or video footage of James Buchanan’s sports complexes or of the elementary schools. Students Whitney Deshong, 12, and Kiersten Siko, 11, describe how during a typical Robotics club session they either fly the drone or mess around with the drone’s software.

 

“Right now, it [the drone] is having software issues so we’re figuring that out,” Deshong said showing how problem-solving is an important characteristic of the club.  

 

The members of the Robotics club are also gearing up to enter competitions for the drone or for their other robots in the near future.

“We are learning how to program and build the robots in anticipation of entering several competitions across the state of Pennsylvania and Maryland,” said advisor Mr. Bill Brooks, Faculty.

The Robotics Club’s drone operated by the upperclassmen   

The members of the club are already preparing for these competitions, along with preparing for the Homecoming parade. They are planning on having their homecoming parade appearance have a movie theme to correspond with the Hollywood Homecoming theme. 

 

Although a lot of work and time is put into the robots, the members of the robotics club enjoy working with technology and learning more about it.

 

“It’s a fun experience. It’s really exciting when you see something you worked on for three weeks walk three inches,” Siko said.

 

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