Ammon Love's SmartLab Experience

As I’ve said before in this blog, it's all about the kids!

My absolute favorite thing to do is drop in on a SmartLab and ask the students, “what’ja doing?”   The learners are so enthusiastic and their project ideas are usually WAY more interesting than anything we come up with when developing the curriculum.   It's also wonderful when a student tells me the SmartLab is their favorite place in school - but I don’t expect them to think about what goes into creating a learning environment like the SmartLab.  Their job is to learn.

So when we received a letter from Herriman High School Student Body President, Ammon Love, it was special indeed.  Ammon clearly understands and appreciates the resources he and his classmates have been able to access through the Herriman SmartLab.  Moreover, he understands the investment his school has made in his future and he doesn't take it for granted.  Ammon was kind enough to take time to send us a letter describing his SmartLab experience. That it was such a thoughtful, well-written letter makes it even more special.

With Ammon’s permission, I am reprinting his letter below in its entirety. 

To the Creative Learning Systems Staff,

I am a current student and the Student Body President at Herriman High School in the Tech 2 class that utilizes the Technology Lab. I have been asked to write this letter in regards to the large amount of success that this Tech Lab has provided for me and my fellow students.

In all aspects, Creative Learning has supplied the necessary technology in the creating of the Herriman High’s Tech Lab to create an atmosphere where a student can learn to become an intrinsic thinker, a productive creator, and an innovative leader. 

First and more specifically, the amount of technology available is beyond belief. This year I worked on a senior project that involved about 30 students out of the student body to create a short-film narrating the problems many teenagers face and the effects it has on each other. To create this film, I needed the proper equipment, including a decent camera, microphones, lighting, tripods, software etc. and Mr. Kim Durfee (our current Technology Department Head) was able to supply each and every piece of necessary technology without a moment’s hesitation. This lab was able to support me in everything I needed and more for my film project, and I have no doubt it is filled with such a general amount of creative technology that it can supply the needs of just about any student aspiring to educate themselves on the mechanics of the technology field which they wish to go into.

Second, the quality of the technology is that of a professional studio in the layout of a high school classroom. In my own experience, the tools available in this lab were so high-quality that it allowed me to create a professional grade advertisement that won first in the commercial category of the Utah High School Film Festival. No doubt there was an enormous sum of money to fund such a 5-star class laboratory, however, the money was well worth the amount of educational, hands-on opportunities that it provides for my fellow students and I in the building of our futures.

Third, the technology is professionally up-to-date so as to allow all students who apply themselves to have enough experience available to jump immediately into more difficult, specific college courses or even into the professional field. I myself have learned so much necessary information in the field of Video Production that I plan to create my own home studio and work on commercials and advertisements on the side of my college study. This lab allows each student to become so familiar with the constantly improving and moving technology world, that it is a powerful preparation to allow them jump immediately into the professional world.

The amount, quality and up-to-date availability of the technology accessible in the Herriman High School Technology Lab will provide a powerful preparation for the futures of all the students who so choose to apply themselves to learning its many functions, and is worth any amount of money necessary to achieve that pure form of hands-on education.

Sincerely,

Ammon Love

Student Body President

Thank-you Ammon!

Ammon Love - Herriman High School Student Body President

Ronan SmartLab Robotics Team - World Champs!

And the hits keep on coming…

Last week, I had the pleasure of announcing the Outstanding STEM Teacher award earned by Washington DC SmartLab Facilitator Max Brooks. This week, I get to follow that act with the news that the Ronan High School robotics team, one of our SmartLab partners, is the 2011 First Tech Challenge World Championship Winning Alliance!  The First Tech Challenge is a head-to-head robotics competition held at Dean Kamen’s annual International Robotics Celebration. This year’s world championships were help in St. Louis, MO., and featured over 600 teams from 29 countries. Wow!!

If you’re wondering (and you probably are), Ronan is a small rural town on the Flathead Indian Reservation in northwest Montana.  It's not unusual to see the names of top silicon valley STEM magnet schools among the competition's award winners.  Based on what we know about the Ronan SmartLab program, we'd be hard pressed to call them underdogs, but it's a victory for the "little guy" none the less!

Here’s a feature on the team from the local NBC affiliate after the team won nationals and qualified for the World Championships.

Robotics is one of the core systems of technology we integrate in our SmartLabs. Robotics challenges often involve complex systems of mechanics, sensors, and computer programming; research skills and artistic expression frequently play key roles as well. It’s creative problem-solving at its best!  Dean Kamen’s FIRST robotics competitions offer teams of all ages a chance to test their engineering skills and we often see successful robotics teams grow from our SmartLab programs.

Jesse Gray, Ronan HS SmartLab Facilitator and robotics team coach, said,

“The SmartLab has played a huge part in the success of the robotics program here in Ronan. The lab is an ideal setup for students to have an opportunity to work with robotics. I have students each period that are working on individual robotics challenges that are initiated using the Learning Launchers. Each group of students has a different level of understanding and ability, but all experience success!”

Congratulations to Ronan High School’s SD30 Robotics Team - 2011 World Champs!!!

Ronan High School SmartLab SD30 Robotics Team

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