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Chestatee High marks Teen Tech Week with $1,000 grant
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Chestatee High School media specialist Lana Nix tells students a little about stations she has set up in the media center Wednesday at Chestatee High School in Gainesville before the students are released to interact with various types of robots and computer programs. Nix received a grant from Best Buy and has used those funds to host activities during Teen Tech Week. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Chestatee High School students are spending the week building model towers, filming animation and coding robots.

Chestatee media specialist Lana Nix recently received a $1,000 grant from Best Buy and Young Adult Library Services Association. The grant allowed Nix and the students at Chestatee to participate this week in Teen Tech Week.

“This is my second year of being a media specialist so this is my first go-around with Teen Tech Week,” Nix said. “We have come up with about 17 activities at Chestatee High School for our students to try their hand at learning.”

The grant allowed the school to purchase two particular projects that allow students to practice coding. Spheros, a remote-controlled ball, connects wirelessly to school iPads and allows students to program movements.

“I’m excited to see what the math classes will do with the Spheros in the future,” Nix said. “There’s so much we’ll be able to do with those things. And the science classes, they’re planning to incorporate them somehow into science lessons with energy as well.”

The grant also allowed the school to purchase an Exofabulatronixx Robot.

“The Exofabulatronixx Robot is one in which our students can put together and take apart and put together in a different form again,” Nix said. “Its pieces connect by means of magnets. When the students have finished creating their robot, they are then able to create a program which will tell their robot what path to take.”

Students all week have visited the Chestatee media center to work on these projects and others. One student spent a class period Wednesday building a prosthetic hand printed from a 3-D printer. The hand will be used at a conference later this month.

Other students spent time constructing a “Chaos Tower,” which challenges students to use engineering and geometry to build a 6-foot-long tower that allows a metal ball to travel its length and width.

Jesse Pieschke, junior at Chestatee, worked Wednesday on the Chaos Tower with friends.

“We are enjoying it,” Pieschke said of Teen Tech Week. “It beats being in class.”

Still other students are spending class time building K’nex roller coasters, producing slow-motion animation using school iPads or creating personal avatars using a computer program.

Nix said she is working to make sure all students at Chestatee get to enjoy the new technology.

“Friday, we have our education pathway students coming in to help our special needs students,” Nix said. “We have a self-contained classroom, and the education pathway students all want to be teachers so I thought, “this will be perfect.’”

Nix said she was pleased with the student interest in all the activities this week.

“My biggest thing is we’ve turned them loose on something they enjoy,” she said. “Some of them have taken on leadership roles with this, and I just think that is fantastic.”

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