Minnetonka middle school students presented at the TIES Education Technology conference in Minneapolis from December 10th-11th. The TIES conference focuses on providing kids with opportunities to expand their knowledge in technology-related topics. It is a place where presenters can exhibit innovative ideas to teachers and professionals from all over the Midwest, who will apply these ideas to their own classes. MMW students Lucas Knox, Zach Larson, Andrew Simmons, Joey Scatena and Enoch Cao, and MME students Connor McMurray, Nicole Gromova and Emily Schroeter showcased projects they have been working on as part of the Hub Club and Tech Mates extracurriculars at the middle schools.
"As teachers we are constantly pining for opportunities to give our students an authentic audience for their work," explains Lisa Reed, adviser for the Hub Club. "Presenting to teachers who were looking for ideas was a great opportunity for these students."
The Hub Club is a STEM-based club at both middle schools. At the TIES conference, students presented work they had created for the Global Cardboard Challenge. They designed created an imaginative arcade game made from at least 75% cardboard and other recycled materials. One student showcased his very own Sphero mini-golf course, complete with a loop, a jump and other obstacles. All said they enjoyed working on this project, and were grateful for the chance to present them in a professional environment and for the opportunity to meet students from other schools with similar interests.
"While we were presenting, several of the other student presenters came to our booth to play our games," says Nicole Gomova. Connor McMurray also expressed how these other students came over to help him when his arcade game stopped working.
The MMW Tech Mates team had an equally fulfilling experience at the conference. These students, along with advisers Anne Kaste and Sara Hunt, put together a 50 minute presentation on how to involve students in empathizing and helping others. Afterwards, they worked with the teachers in attendance by answering questions and encouraging them to brainstorm new ideas.
"Students were able to highlight their ability to solve problems and serve their school with technical leadership," explains Sara Hunt. "The presentation was presented through the lens of Human Centered Design sharing our work in the district around empathizing with others in order to best serve them."
As a whole, the TIES conference was a huge success for Minnetonka middle school students. The day spent presenting and learning about innovative ideas and projects was a fun way for students to broaden their knowledge of technology and STEM work.