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Lakeview Academy kids create award-winning computer programs and animations
Lakeview Academy eighth-grader Vidya Mani-Medepalli explains the media project she created to enter in the recent state technology fair.

"Bob the Eraser Playing Piano" and "Bob the Eraser Playing Soccer:" Watch animations created by Lakeview Academy fifth-grader Reanna Wang.

The youngsters at Lakeview Academy proved they are among the top techies in the state at the 2009 State Educational Technology Fair.

The private Gainesville school walked away with 10 state awards earlier this month, and tied with an Alpharetta school for the most awards for any school in the state. The state fair was held on March 14 at West Forsyth High School in Atlanta, where 96 schools pitted their students' multimedia, graphic design and computer construction projects against one another.

A slew of Lakeview students took first in the regional competition and advanced to the state competition. Nine Lakeview kids took home 10 awards, including four first-place wins.

Connie White, technology director for Lakeview Academy, said the school has a rigorous technology curriculum that begins in pre-kindergarten. She said the school began competing in the technology fair five years ago to give students an outlet in which to channel their technological pursuits.

"In our curriculum, every child is programming robots by fifth grade," White said. "... I think because we have such a strong curriculum, they are exposed to and have the opportunity to become passionate about learning the technology."

White said she is consistently surprised at the projects students turn out each year for the fair.

Lakeview's top winners this year programmed their own educational computer games, built their own computers, made their own multimedia films and used various software programs for graphic design projects and presentations.

Lakeview fifth-grader Reanna Wang took first in the state for her animated graphic design film she made with more than 200 still photos. The short film features her pink eraser named Bob, his wife Bobalina and their son Bob, Jr.

"I decided to make Bob playing the piano and playing a soccer game," she said.

Reanna made sound clips of her playing the piano and her class cheering, and wove the sounds into her animation.

Lynn Zottnick, technology instructor at Lakeview Academy, said she teaches kids technology skills and enjoys watching them run with it.

"It's really rewarding to see how they can take what you taught them and go in a new direction and do something completely new and unique," she said.

Zottnick said she encourages Lakeview students to be creative and think outside the box on their technology fair projects. She said some students, like Lakeview 10th-grader Thomas King, come to her with projects they've already completed and want to submit to the technology fair.

Thomas won third place in the state for his homemade desktop computer. He said he got all the parts to make a computer for Christmas and put it together in two days. He uses it mostly for online video games, he said.

Thomas said he learned how to assemble a computer in a hardware class he took at Lakeview.

"Besides that, I took a lot of interest in it on my own. I guess you could say that class really sparked my interest," he said.

"It wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. It sounds really complicated, but once you see all the parts in the structure, it's pretty simple," he said.

Thomas also placed third in the state on the computer literacy challenge exam. The exam questions students on computer parts and how they work.

Cory Matyas, a fourth-grader at Lakeview, placed first in the state on the literacy exam for the lower school category.

Cory, an aspiring computer programmer, also placed first in the state for his "Math is Fun" learning game. The game features different quiz questions for different grade levels up to third grade.

Like Thomas, Cory said his technology classes have helped him learn how to program computers, so even though he's only in fourth grade, it's a seamless and fun task.

"It's actually quite a bit of fun. It seems hard at first, but once you know how to use the different programming languages, it's not that difficult," he said. "... I just think the faster you get started with it, the easier it will be later on in life."

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