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Jordan High School Students Introduce Maker Collective Group

Mar 09, 2016 03:03PM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Julie Slama | Julie@mycityjournals.com

Sandy - When Jordan High students wanted to learn more about technology, they sought out math teacher Cameo Lutz, who empowered them to create their own group.

And they did just that. 

Now with a $8,600 innovation grant from the Canyons Education Foundation that is being used for equipment and supplies, Jordan High has its student-led science, technology, engineering and math group, called Maker Collective. With 32 students accepted after an application process, the students can earn an elective class credit, Advanced Studies Research, while exploring projects.

“There was a lack of tech clubs at our school, so after we built a computer that had built-in buzzer responses, like Jeopardy, for a teacher, we decided this was something we could do,” said junior Boyd Christiansen, who along with juniors Connor Hill and Topher Johnson helped create the group. “Teachers now are coming to ask us to solve things.”

The trio and other students have determined to work on several projects, including learning about micro controllers, circuit design, construction and programming robots, computer construction, flight dynamics and InMoov, an advanced robotics project.

“We teach everyone the basics but then educate ourselves on how to do more. We don’t force anyone into doing anything. Everyone wants to learn,” Boyd said.

He said that when Lutz asked him if he wanted to work to be the school’s upcoming math Sterling Scholar, she was surprised that he said his passion is technology.

“I had no idea that this was his interest,” she said. “Then, we looked around and realized that Jordan didn’t offer much in that way for him and others who also wanted to excel in the field.”

So when Boyd and his friends took on the challenge to create the group, they asked their “favorite math teacher” to be their adviser.

Lutz, who admits she’s not a whiz at the technology they’re embracing, said it’s enjoyable to watch.

“When they are passionate about learning something, they retain the information and are eager to share what they’ve learned with one another,” she said, adding that students have learned leadership skills through Maker Collective. “This also has given access to materials that so many students don’t have access to — even computers at home since about 30 percent of Jordan students don’t have access.”

For Topher, it’s a chance to explore areas he’s been interested in.

“I have the freedom to make things and do we what we want to do,” he said, adding that he is interested in a career in electrical engineering. “If we’re interested in an area, we can take it all home and figure it out. This is more than robotics and technology; it involves all areas.”

Topher also said they like passing along what they learn and newest technology to others. At the Utah STEM Fest, held Feb. 2-4 in Sandy’s South Towne Expo Center, they offered to get interested students Google Cardboard kits for $5 rather than matching retail prices that are triple the amount. Google Cardboard, similar to ViewMasters in the 1960s, is a viewing machine, with a cell phone slipped inside, that can show 360-degree photos and movie clips, offering a chance for students to learn about subjects in a new manner.

As part of their group, they’d like to reach to middle school students, maybe even taking their final project of their three-year grant, an InMoov full-sized android robot that will have full articulation and have voice recognition.

“If we can teach more people about technology, we’d have students become more passionate about it,” Topher said. “With this group, we’re not only learning it, we’re experiencing it.” 

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