Last Friday, much to the horror of students at JSU, hundreds of small children flocked to the Jack Hopper dining hall to get lunch. Where did they come from? Why were they here?
All of the students, their teachers, and their parents, were attendees of the 19th annual Alabama Council for Technology in Education (ACTE) Central Technology Fair.
In addition to these herds of elementary, middle, and high school students were also the judges and volunteers from various departments around campus that pitched in to make the fair a success this year.
The technology fair allows local high school students to participate in the following categories: General Applications, Multimedia Applications, Web Site Creation, Video Production, Hardware-Robotics, Computer Project Programming, and the Team Programming Challenge. These categories include anything from PowerPoint presentations for younger students to elaborate robots for the upperclassmen looking to their final years of competition.
For the competition, students are required to submit a completed project in the category of their choice, along with a notebook specifying what program they used, why they decided to create the project, what educational value the project has, and how they completed the project. Students can compete individually or in groups of up to four students total.
In addition to their projects in the various categories, students also compete in an information technology test that quizzes their knowledge
on the various aspects of the technological world.
Each year, the fair has faced the ongoing issue of space. With sponsors that represent students and parents that come to cheer their children on during the awards ceremony, there are easily over 1,000 people in Leone Cole Auditorium as the afternoon comes to a close.
Originally, the technology fair was for one region of Alabama. Eventually, JSU became the host for two separate regional fairs. This year, they are the same size (if not larger), and they are back to being the host for just one regional fair. There were thirty-nine schools that participated in the technology fair this year, with a total of about 700 students that entered into the various competitions.
Mr. Terry Marbut, the head of the Technology & Engineering department at Jacksonville State, is one of the main professors responsible for organizing the technology fair each year.
“Our current location is at capacity with the number of participants we have for the fair. If the fair continues to grow at this rate, we hope to migrate to a larger venue,” says Marbut.
Several professors involved behind the scenes of the technology fair have expressed that the Pete Matthews Coliseum would make the perfect venue for participants of the annual fair.
From here, students that placed first or second in their categories will advance to the Alabama state technology fair to compete at the University of Auburn in Montgomery later this spring.
As for those involved here at JSU, it’s time to start preparing for next year.