Ulster BOCES Helps Bring Cutting-Edge Technology to the Classroom

If you ask Kindergarten students at Ostrander Elementary School in the Wallkill Central School District about the classic story of Humpty Dumpty these days, you'll probably hear just as much about geometric shapes and 3D printing as you would about walls and great falls.

In a project that combined literacy with technology, students recently created and printed their own Humpty Dumpty statues on a 3D printer borrowed from Ulster BOCES as part of a unique program called Technology to Go.

Offered through Ulster BOCES Instructional Services Model Schools program, Technology to Go allows districts to borrow a wide range of cutting-edge educational technology ranging from robots and Raspberry Pi mini-computers to virtual reality sets and cameras.

"It's like having a technology library card," said Ostrander Principal Nick Pantaleone, who's using the service to integrate different tech tools into the curriculum every month, from Cubelets robots in November to Google Glass this coming April.

The devices will be used across the curriculum in project-based learning activities, from basic coding to literacy enhancing fun like the Humpty Dumpty project.

"With a 3D printer, you can bring anything to life," Wallkill Library/Media Specialist Stephen Cabarcas told Kindergarten students recently as he introduced them to Tinkercad, the design software that works with the printer. With Cabarcas' guidance, the students designed their statues and got to visit the library to watch them being printed.

Another 3D printing project involves the creation of Egyptian cartouches. Sixth grade students will be asked to create their names based upon ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

"It's very exciting," Pantaleone said. "There's a great buzz around the building."

The excitement is shared by students and teachers alike. Pantaleone said the integration of the technology has been very well received by faculty, and he has helped teachers get comfortable with the new devices through how-to videos and other information.

"They're crazy excited," Cabarcas said of the teachers, who have been generating ideas for lessons using the featured technology of the month.

Pantaleone thanked Ulster BOCES for the support he has received in implementing the Technology to Go service, which is available to all districts that subscribe to the Ulster BOCES Model Schools cooperative service.

"We're trying to do some amazing things," Pantaleone said. "It's a fun way to introduce technology into the classroom and a great way to expose students and staff to the wonderful things Ulster BOCES offers us."

Ostrander Elementary School Kindergarten student designs a project.