At last night’s “TechNext 2016,” the technology expo for Wilton Schools and students, it was impossible to sit in the Little Theater at Wilton High School or visit with the exhibitors in the hallway without being completely blown away. It was awe-inspiring to see the wide array of interests and boundaries being expanded by the learners in our school district.

On display were almost two-dozen projects of varying types and visitors had the ability to ask questions of the students who had dreamed up the ideas. The show in the theater was a TEDtalk-styled event with 5-10 minute presentations from kids who seemed like mini-Steve Jobs enthralling the audience with their creativity and smarts.

Imagine hearing a 4th grader explain her high-concept presentation about how indispensable lines are in life, and come to realize that not only is she confidently speaking to a theater full of people hanging on every word, but she has written the code to create the animations in her presentation on screen. You had to keep reminding yourself—she’s only in 4th grade!

Coding seemed to be one of the big attractions of the evening, as several exhibitors showed off their abilities to code. A group of 6th graders had the audience playing along with their Jeopardy-styled game that they created with web technologies. Other students showed off the apps they created or video games they designed. Some created computer graphics, or explained cloud computing; one boy lectured on how he had come up with a way to grow better, safer, healthier food and save money for the Wilton schools’ cafeterias.

There were virtual creations and actual physical ones, like the students who built their own computers and tablets, or the high school students who built a programmable mini light show on an LED board. For each interest an individual had—music, renaissance history and social values, photo collages, writing, and more—there were multiple ways those students could use technology to explore and expand their learning. And the best part about it was that most of the students were accessing the technology through the curriculum and classwork offered by the school district.

Even the youngest students in Wilton Schools had a chance to show what they’ve been doing. Miller-Driscoll students showed off their TV News programs they’ve been creating via MD-TV1 and MD-TV2. There was also Ms. Redin’s 4th grade class from Cider Mill that explained how they used iPads and online resources to research, write, design, layout and publish digital textbooks.

Clearly, the district’s children are being inspired by the technology, enough to be incredibly inspiring to watch as they flourish.

 

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