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25 February 2008

Tech Titans:
JSU Hosts Technology Fair for Students

Christian Hauser of Anniston Christian Academy works on a robot that can identify and sort objects by color. Photo: Kevin Qualls/The Anniston Star

By Dan Whisenhunt
Star Staff Writer

Reprinted here in its entirety.

Shelly Ferch spied on her son at the Alabama Council for Technology in Education’s regional fair Friday.

Brad Ferch, an eighth-grader at Guntersville Middle School, had left his project unattended. His mom listened on giant headphones as a video of Brad played, giving instructions on how to play guitar. It was the only way he’d let her see the project, she said.

“I used to be surprised, but not any more,” Shelly said of her son’s technological handiwork. “That’s the way he is.”

At the Northeast and East Central Regional Fair, held at Jacksonville State University since the 1990s, it’s the students who give the lessons.

Terry Marbut, department head for technology and engineering at JSU, said 570 students from more than 30 schools competed Friday for a chance to make it to the state tournament in April.

The fair exposes students to careers in technology and judges them on projects ranging from multimedia creations to Web site design.

Teresa Zimmer, state president of the Alabama Council for Technology and Education, said judges like students who know how to use their software and whose projects serve an educational purpose.

Sebastian Cuevas, from Saks High School, made a short film using his Macintosh computer. Called “Only for the Boss,” the film combines three pre-selected elements, which he turned into a “mobster movie.”

His teacher, Katrina Graben, was confident it was first-place material.

“These guys worked really hard on this,” Graben said. She said the school won in three or four categories last year. “We want to go to state.”

Kim Knight, business education teacher for Winterboro High School, said her students entered three Web page designs. Her students also entered two multi-media projects — one on teen drug prevention, the other on cyber-security.

This was the school’s first time at the tournament. She said her students teach her something new every day.

“A lot of them excel at school, but maybe not socially,” Knight said of the tournament. “This gives them that backbone.”

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt covers K-12 schools and higher education for The Star.

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