Owensboro hosted its first regional STLP (Student Technology Leadership Program) Conference Tuesday at the Owensboro Convention Center, where hundreds of students from local and regional schools presented first drafts of education-based technology projects to judges. Officials with the Kentucky Department of Education’s STLP program said they decided to hold one of the nine regional conferences in Owensboro because there were so many students and schools who wanted to participate in this year’s competition.
Each school’s STLP project had a different focus, but each of them in some way implemented technology. Three students from each school were given 10 minutes to present their project to judges who scored the projects based on a rubric.
Highland Elementary School’s “Come See Me!” project focused on teacher/student relationships outside of school by streamlining the communication process and providing teachers with information about their students’ after-school activities.
“Students wanted their teachers to come to their outdoor events, but it was too hard to plan, so we made a Google form, and the students fill it out,” said Highland student Ryann Casey. “We have all our information on a Google sheet, so we can make sure that the teachers get all the information. We also have a Google slide with all the information, and then we’re going to insert a picture.”
The Highland STLP team also created a video for judges to watch that explained the process and its importance. Students would be able to send their activity information forms to teachers — with descriptions such as date, location, event, etc. — by selecting the teachers’ name from a faculty email list.
West Louisville’s project, “Stop, Drop, & Prevent Bullying” shared statistics from a bullying survey taken by the students and filled out by 116 of their peers through Google Classroom. The students also created a video that described the different version of bullying that occur and what the implications of those actions could be.
“This is about preventing bullying at our school,” said student Peter Gonzalez. “We have a survey of how often you’ve been bullied this school year, how you respond to being bullied, and other questions like that. We want to bring the [higher bullying numbers] down to zero. Our goal is to try and make the worst parts of every day go down as much as we can.”
Meanwhile, Foust Elementary’s STLP project, titled “S.O.S.,” highlighted the issue of shy or embarrassed students who get too nervous to raise their hands for help during class. Not only did the students address what they described as a common issue at their school — they created a high-tech solution for it.
“We developed the S.O.S. — Student Output Signal,” the project explained. “Each student will have a button on their table or desk. If they need help or have a question, they can press their button. The teacher will have a pad on their desk with lights designated to each student by numbers.”
The Foust students reached out to Air Force mechanic Dave Crane to learn the ins and outs of circuits and how to build them. During Crane’s third visit with the STLP team, he helped the students salvage wires, lights and batteries to build a working circuit to create a miniature S.O.S., which the students presented to judges at the conference.
STLP Program Manager Jeff Sebulsky said Owensboro’s regional conference was the fourth largest out of the nine conferences across the state.
“This is a new, regional event we’re pumped about,” Sebulsky said. “The students here used to come down to the conference at WKU in Bowling Green, but there’s such a demand, we decided, ‘Hey, let’s just stay in your own backyard.”
Tuesday’s conference — deemed Level 1 — will determine whether any of the schools’ ideas are strong enough to compete in the STLP state championship in April. Those who qualify will continue to refine and improve their projects leading up to the competition in Lexington.
“There’s a lot of room for ideas to grow here today,” Sebulsky said. “Last year we had about 14,000 people come together at the state championship to celebrate how students are using technology to come together. The beauty is, they’re not competing against each other — they’re just working against the rubric. There’s no quota, there’s no limit.”