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January 30, 2014 by Staff Report | No Comments

Michael Hickox, Cardinal 2009 graduate and soon to be University of Akron graduate, visited the Cardinal Middle School STEM (science, technology, engineering…

Alumnus Visits STEM Club

Michael Hickox, Cardinal 2009 graduate and soon to be University of Akron graduate, visited the Cardinal Middle School STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Club on Jan. 9.

Michael is the creator of Michael Hickox Films. His stop motion films using Legos are a huge hit on YouTube.

First, Michael explained to the students how the movies are made. Then, he made a video involving the students. Finally, he showed his most current video, which is the latest of the “Pizza Delivery” series.

Michael attends the University of Akron where he is studying to become a mechanical engineer. Lego stop motion video is his hobby. In the weeks that follow Michael’s visit, the students in STEM Club will be creating their own stop motion videos.

Computer Class 20% Time

This semester in Mr. Spence’s eighth-grade computer class, a class of students participated in an exciting project called “20% time.” It was inspired by other educators, as well as an initiative started by Google several years ago.

Google gave some of its top minds flexibility in their job by allowing 20 percent of their week to focus on something outside of their job description. It should be company related, but the employees could focus on a project of their choosing and passion. From this 20 percent time, Google engineers developed Gmail, Google AdSense, Google News, etc.

Educators across the country were inspired by this and tried it out with students. The belief is that if students are given a choice to learn and create something they are passionate about, then the results will lead to many interested and passionate learners.

Students in Mr. Spence’s class were given an opportunity to choose what they wanted to learn during their 20 percent time. Students had to fill out a proposal and get it signed by parents and the teacher for final approval. The students chose a wide variety of things to learn and create, including learning about the human brain, playing guitar, learning a new language, wilderness survival, creating a video game, baking and much more.

Every Friday throughout the semester, the students dedicated the class period to working on their 20 percent time. Students updated a weekly journal reflection that was shared with Mr. Spence.

At the end of the semester, students were invited to prepare and participate in the final presentation on Jan. 10. Parents and families were invited, as well.

Students prepared a talk show, slide show and/or demonstration of what they did and learned during their 20 percent time. It was an enjoyable night to see the final results of this successful educational experiment. Students presenting included Hanna T., Kylie S., Todd W., Brett K., Michale M., Barbara D., Eve M., Jacob R. and Drew L.

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