If you're a blog fan, this page will be the attempt to reflect on the trials and tribulations of CDAT.
This will also feed to Tweet, where you can follow us at #CDATLHS
What is authentic, or real, or genuine? Along the lines of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", we see it as a varying element in our space.
In CDAT, sometimes an authentic project is just fun, because we spend so much time studying. Combining science with parody and technology can be genuine good times! Another authentic thing are the tests kids have to take for local and State. While you're not supposed to teach to the test, why not? Test companies make billions of dollars a year with their prep materials, so that's why we have had projects that focus on developing test prep materials that are more enjoyable. Authentic is the real situation of their world.
But then, what is their world? In 2010 we did a project about water, because the use of the local Lake Lanier for drinking water was under legal challenge by Alabama and Florida. We also did a project when students complained about P.E. class as outdated, so they wrote proposals and grants for new facilities, wrapping together their persuasive writing, engineering and math skills. Most 9th and 10th grade students with us are doing video projects to demonstrate their science, because they NEED to know how to make a good video, it is the primary tool for making your case. Our 11th graders are doing the "Junior Capstone" which is a year-long project of their choosing, with quality and depth. Senior Capstone projects are too late for college applications, doing this in 11th is much more authentic. Our Seniors: please leave. We want them to be Dual Enrolled, or in an internship, that first step into their post-secondary life.
We have great relationships with local corporations, our city and more, and are so grateful for these authentic connections. After years of doing this, we now understand the differentiation in authenticity so much more. What's real to me is not necessarily real to you, and vice versa. Choice is real to both of us, so let's focus on that. Watch for our October projects, you'll see real choice then!
It's about this time of year that many of our new students start peeking at the site, they're excited to get going, and that's awesome! Also, check us out on Facebook as we try and improve our sharing there too: https://www.facebook.com/laniercdat/
As summer settles into the school year, first make sure to spend another couple of days at the pool, take a walk through the woods (not many Pokemon there, most are near things with signs), and more. But as the school year does start, get ready to enjoy your time with us! Yes, enjoy school.
How will our students be "doing CDAT" this year? We are all pretty excited about the schedule we've worked out, here's a summary:
For all joining us this year, we are so excited to get going! Remember, CDAT is a community, it's not just teachers teaching and students responding. We want input from all, including our parents and community. Because we are a project-based environment, we welcome input from all, to refine our system, but also bring ideas and opportunities to our students. Only getting better with time, this year is going to be great!!!
For the first time in our history, we tried an Academy-wide project focused on charity: the Relay for Life "Carnaval del Dia de los Muertos - A Celebration of Life". Kids of all ages had a great time playing carnival games, most of which were actually a math and technology project! From human-sized Jenga to magic tricks, pneumatic guns and card games, a very cool night! CDAT raised $1700 for Relay, a very strong first charity event! Thanks to Lanier Middle for letting us host at your place!
You might notice the State Farm logo on our Relay logo. That's because State Farm and CDAT are now working together! State Farm noticed so many of the great things our kids are doing, they wanted to support it, to help nurture it, to be "a good neighbor". On Nov. 12, they officially gave us a check for $15,000 in order to support CDAT and helping kids learn STEM. We both look forward to working together, and the possibility of a long relationship.
State Farm officials were really blown away when they came on Nov. 12, because we were also announcing our Science Fair award winners. We will have approximately 25 students moving onto the County Science Fair, led by our winners, 9th graders Camryn and Britney, who had an amazing project of reclaiming runoff farm water.
Look out Gwinnett, look out Georgia, CDAT is coming!
This is definitely one of those busy weeks, the kind that go by like cars on a racetrack. And probably because we had a race car on campus!
CDAT was very fortunate to have the Mazda Motorsports team on campus, and they gave a great presentation on STEM for our students! From the obvious tech involved in cars to driver nutrition and renewable diesel fuel, a very cool show. To top it off, the Mazda Corporation, represented by Thomas Condon, donated $2,500 to the program. And not to be outdone, Geoff Lee, President of RoadAtlanta, gave a ticket to EVERY CDAT student to attend Petit LeMans this weekend!
That was Tuesday, just before the County video crew arrived to get footage about our cluster's receiving an Innovation Award for our vertical approach to sharing and education.
On Wednesday, we got a nice link from the Autodesk Corporation, a neat story on our ladies who have submitted their design patent. An amazing and simple use of TinkerCAD, the free online tool for 3D work. Reilly had done a webinar a week earlier on creative technology careers.
Thursday was fun: we brought about 10 students to HiRez Studios to meet with their marketing and social media folks, and to learn their tips on promoting the game SMITE. The students will be developing their own approach of online marketing and using social media tools and analytics to increase SMITE awareness and participation. Who doesn't like video games?!
Now we're wrapping up the week, getting ready for MakerFaireATL! In particular, the MakEdu.org conference on Saturday, where we will be learning a lot, and sharing some of what we do. Always fun and easy to brag on the students' accomplishments! We're thankful for Jim Ellis Chevrolet for supporting our new electric go-kart initiative, and AZZ-WSI for the mentoring and advice!
Who knows what next week will bring...
A fun couple of weeks, as usual! We started our first major project of the year, "Innovation Nation!!" with our huge group of kids. Okay, so it's really a huge focus on Science Fair, but a couple of us that we needed a cooler name than Science Fair. ALL of us think STEM kids should ALL do Science Fair, we just wanted to spice it up a bit for those who might not see it as a "cool" thing. Some great ideas are forming, we'll share them as we go.
Of course, we're still pushing the edge, we won't leave that fun behind! On August 25, Mr. Reilly was named to the Board of Directors of Children International (children.org), as an Education Specialist. This is great for CDAT, as this gives us opportunities to make worldwide connections with disadvantaged kids, and understand third-world issues and entrepreneurship. Our kids are even closer to making a worldwide impact.
In addition, on Sept. 15, Mr. Reilly (okay, I'm typing and it's weird to refer to myself in 3rd person) will be doing a live webcast on how we use Autodesk products in various ways. The Autodesk company has been impressed with CDAT since our first year, and when you see what our kids can do, it is no surprise.
As always, let us know if you'd like to get involved, this is a community!
One of our major principles is "authenticity". Sure, if we were cool, it would be phrased "keepin it real", but we're STEM focused so let's use as many syllables as possible.
a cool series on the water cycle. After all, Gwinnett is known for its recycling, and Walter is known for his movies. Not only did some CDAT students get paid to work the set, they have mention on the credits AND we did it in our own CDAT labs. Who knew setting up a science experiment could earn cash!
Then, as our year began, we went out on DAY 1 (!!!) of school to HiRez Studios. They needed some of our kids to test one of their latest games, Jetpack Fighter (can't say any more, signed a non-disclosure agreement). They had a great time, got some shirts and stuff, and we will have about 10 of them interning at HiRez to do internet evaluation and promotion of HiRez games, and those of the competition. "Yes Mom, these video games are schoolwork".
We are SO thankful for these amazing advisors, as they help us to create these internships for our students. Our teens are ready for authenticity, they thrive in the real challenge!
As we start the school year, we start off with a bang!! Our project-based learning style was recognized by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) as the best example of academic assignments in their 16-state region (link here). In addition, the direction set by CDAT, and embraced by the Lanier cluster, has earned our cluster the "Tranforming Learning" grant from the County, which gives a grant for our schools to further continue improving and sharing our work. Finally, it was recently announced that the Technology Association of Georgia has selected CDAT as a Finalist for the STEM Certified School Outreach Award. This is given to the school that has tried to share the excitement of STEM education, and CDAT has certainly done that! This is our second year for the award, let's hope the second time is the charm!
When we last left our heroes, the year was wrapping up with a frenzy. Our year culminated with a regional "STEM Maker Fest" hosted at Lanier, with an estimated 1,500 visitors to see "makers" from LHS, but also our cluster schools and local engineers and geeky hobbyists. It was a wonderful celebration of science combined with creativity!
On the day before the event, we also received word from our intellectual property attorney (so cool to say!) that 3 of our 10th grade girls (Savannah, Lauren, Macy) were officially "patent pending" on their makeup applicator design!! So proud of these young ladies, proving that if you identify a problem, work hard on a solution, and persist through the details, you can do great things! While it may have happened before, we're still not aware of another high school student in Georgia receiving a patent. We hope to hear from the US Patent Office this Fall...
And now on to the Fall of 2015. CDAT will be growing once again: we anticipate 450 CDAT students this year, a 1500% increase from our wonderful original cohort of 30. We will also be adding a new tech teacher, 2 Math teachers, a full-time Special Education teacher, and more here and there. We have established a new system for our 12th graders, where they will be in either internships or dual enrollment for half of the day, which is so exciting. If the purpose of high school is to get you to your post-secondary destination, we're getting it done!
Stay tuned for more exciting news, we have a few things planned already which should be astounding!!
Spring is traditionally awards and competitions season, the culmination of the year, and this season is no different. We're so proud of our students and our program in general!
On March 1, we had 15 of our young ladies recognized by the National Center of Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Georgia's division for their active participation in technology. Emily Polanco, a CDAT 11th grade student, was a State winner AND a National runner-up for her tech work and aspirations. All of the ladies were recognized, had a great banquet, and met folks from great companies such as Home Depot, State Farm, Georgia Tech and more. They keynote speaker was Kathy Pham, a Georgia Tech grad, Google manager, member of the White House Digital Service Leadership, and an amazing role model for our ladies.
We also had a great showing at the County Science Fair, taking home numerous 2nd and 3rd place finishes. Of course, neither students nor teachers were happy without a first place, so we're going to try and conquer other contests like the Google Science Fair! Ethan Shaw and Analise Rodriguez were actual presenters at the County Science Fair Symposium, one of only 9 groups chosen and the only 9th graders we've aware of EVER receiving this honor.
Our staff has also been asked to present numerous times, helping others shape PBL environments in their schools. Mr. Reilly has presented to multiple district leadership meetings on CDAT, PBL and innovation, and a few CDAT teachers are currently planning our summer PBL training where we anticipate up to 700 teachers.
On the planning front, our estimates for the Fall of 2015 are 415 students. Wow. A jump of about 100 from this year, and a massive leap from our "CDAT Originals" group of 30 in the Fall of 2010. As we grow, we hope to continue the feeling of community, the focus on rigorous work, and amazing accomplishments of our students and staff.
In our last project, we were attempting our first school-wide PBL effort. It's not just our 300 or so kids, but all 1800 or so, with the entire staff. But in the midst of supporting a positive school-wide exposure to PBL, we also pushed our kids even further, and they nailed it!
In our Tools for Tomorrow project, we asked the kids for their ideas on what is needed, wanted, necessary. We really wanted to push that you don't have to have a full-blown, perfect and proven item. Emphasizing creativity and identification of opportunity were our keys. Lots of folks said, you mean like "Shark Tank"? No, because those folks have revenue and product development. It's more like "KickStarter", where there may or may not be a prototype.
You see, kids don't know that their ideas are worth money, so our challenge to them: come up with your concepts, be ready to "pitch" them in a genuine way, and we will bring in investors, inventors and others to consider taking it to the next level. And then something cool happened....
Our investors would like to take 4 concepts to get patented, and 1 more to get trademarked!
Yes, our kids are pursuing patents. AND it's such a variety of kids too: mostly female, cool engineering ideas, some at-risk kids. We've won other great awards, but now we're on to the highest levels of authenticity in the world of intellectual property!! As teachers, we are now dreaming of the potential "positive contagion" that this could become, a catalyst and motivator for so many, as they see what their peers have accomplished.
There's going to be a big celebration if/when these patents are approved, a celebration of so many things!!
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