JAMESTOWN — The Jamestown High School students are getting the opportunity to explore technology at a different level.
JHS Manufacturing Technology students are learning what it means to have experience with digital literacy and project-based learning. Advisor of the class Scott VanStee says he is excited to share some wisdom.
“I like to tell them that this is just one particular thing that we used in a classroom but the skys the limit on what we can do with the hand. It’s definitely something that a student could get their head wrapped around in a classroom, but I like to tell them this is just their jumping-off point.” said VanStee.
Prior to the pandemic students would be sent on field trips in an opportunity to experience different career paths relating to technology, however in-person excursions have gone virtual due to the epidemic, but their intention is to resume them as soon as possible once safe.
Due to the popularity of VanStee’s class, it is expected to expand next semester, he will be able to offer two sections of his technology class.
“I was in business for 22 years before I came into teaching. I had a furniture factory in Jamestown, it was in my family, and I was a fourth generation, so I come out of the manufacturing end of things. We were certainly starting to get a little more technologically advanced but with our whole industry moving mostly overseas, it forced us to close. This is now my 20th year teaching and I love the challenge and I love bringing in new technology to the classroom.”
They say the class will also allow students to understand how design thinking works and how empathy plays a role in product design.
“We started out by doing a rock, paper, scissors contest and from there I made the students do as much sign language with the hand as they could, which we learned was not easy in some cases because you have to turn your hand or make a more complex movement,” continued VanStee.“The kids were very engaged in the building and the activities that we worked on and I had a number of students who liked robotic programming through mlink.”
Thoses in the class are working with the NeuroMaker HAND, a STEM kit that allows students to build and program a robotic hand.
“I want to show my students that the jobs out there aren’t just going to be you taking a widget and moving it from one place to another, it’s more than that these days. I was intrigued by the assembly aspect of the NeuroMaker HAND because I knew I could connect it to ladder logic. You have to do things in order, and it allows you to talk about why that’s important and that it’s not just putting something together but needing to understand the ‘why.’ Students that have popped into my room, always see the hand on my desk and ask about it. They ask me what course I teach that uses the hand.These are not current students, so it has created some great interest in my class.”
NeuroMaker’s Associate Director of Partnerships for the Northeast, Joshua Varela, the STEM kit provides more than just materials, but a crucial learning project to embark on young minds.
“We at NeuroMaker believe there is so much untapped innovation throughout the country. To cultivate this innovation, we need to ensure STEM is accessible and is not segmented. STEM skills are the life skills of the 21st century and equity is non-negotiable.”