New age of technology dawns at Monterey

Oak Bay students tackle coding and programming in the classroom

Andrei Bielay

Monterey Institute of Technology



A passion for technology and access to a laptop are all the tools needed to apply for MIT in Oak Bay.

Monterey Institute of Technology launched this year under teacher Josh Elsdon. “I noticed the kids learn best when they’re curious about things,” he said.

MIT is made up of 28 students who work and learn together all year with a focus on using technology in different areas of the curriculum. Students applied last April, a process that included each teen and pre-teen explaining why he or she is passionate about technology.

Andrei Bielay, 13, already has a three-dimensional chess board ready to print.

With a little coding experience under his belt when he applied for the tech class, Bielay wanted to learn more, particularly about javascript and Alice.

The chess board is a springboard project, one he designed himself following an online tutorial to create the blueprint for a pawn.

About two of the four hours he spent developing it was done in class, despite the teacher not actually assigning homework.

“It’s not homework if it’s something you’re passionate about,” Elsdon says.

Each student brings a laptop to school and works on a self-paced program to advance through a set of sequential lessons on computer coding and programming. Weekly challenges encourage problem solving, critical thinking and innovation.

Students utilize gaming and online platforms throughout the curriculum, for example one science project features Minecraft as a form of creating ecological succession maps.

“It’s really unique, it’s mostly high schools that have these programs,” said Jessica Zhang, 12, while working on a three-dimensional Minecraft character mid-creation on TinkerCAD.

Her dad’s career is based on programming in the cellphone industry, she said, which sparked her interest.

“I just wanted to give it a shot,” she said. “It’s not as easy as I thought.”

Zhang is perfecting her character in anticipation of June, when the school’s 3D printer is slated to arrive. The equipment is paid for using a Collaboration Grant, applied for with both the tech class and next fall’s Grade 6 entrepreneurial class in mind.

The Collaboration Grant provide opportunities for a team of teachers to work together on in-depth projects in skills; trades and careers; numeracy and technology.

At Monterey, the young entrepreneurs would conceptualize something that the tech class plan to develop into a tangible object. This year’s class hope to work out the bugs early for the students accepted into next fall’s MIT. “We’ll start to get a sense of what it’s capable off,” Elsdon says.

Elsdon introduced a plethora of programs and tutorials to set students off. Some students dabble in many  areas while others delve into one or two specifics.

“A lot of them develop skills in different things and started to collaborate,” Elsdon said. “We’ve done contact with real-world game houses and that’s how [real-world] projects happen … and the students did it on their own.”

Liam McDonald-Horak, Owen Crewe and Leo Galbraith are a prime example of that collaboration as they use Unity to create a two-dimensional role play game.

“So far we’ve been able to make our people walk around and the key controls work,” said Galbraith.

Today they’re on the forums chatting and learning and picking online minds to break beyond whatever hurdle is hanging them up. It’s where they often turn when official tutorials don’t do the trick.

“We go back on the forums and find someone who knows how to do it,” Galbraith said.

The game is the computer incarnation of a pen-and-paper game he’s already created. Explained in one breath and greater detail, as – demons are re-released in your village and you’re trying to be a hero and find your people and you fight a lot of crazies through icy tundra and volcanos and face a dragon, that isn’t the actual bad guy, the bad guy’s a surprise.

“I’d like to at least get the first part of the game done [by June],” Galbraith said.

Maggie Dennis, 13, finds the forum of the classroom helpful with its varied levels and areas of knowledge among her peers.

“It’s a really good opportunity,” she said, using a Khan Academy tutorial to create a circle using javascript. “I didn’t know any of this when I started.”

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Former hostage negotiator to hold class in Victoria

Cathy MacDonald will teach communication skills on Sept. 26

B.C. Fire chiefs concerned over home-grown cannabis and fire hazards

More legislation is needed around electrical, fire codes

Saanich churches seek to spread the blessings of pet ownership

St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church will hold its annual Blessing of the Animals Service Sunday

Can you name all four of Victoria’s ‘sister cities’?

Partnerships with Asian, Russian countries have resulted in tourism, investment opportunities

BC Hydro to offer sale of Kings Road land to Saanich

Preserving land as park ‘a no-brainer,’ says neighbour

VIDEO: Tour de Rock rider says event provides badly needed support

Cancer survivor and volunteer firefighter Nicole Emery speaks about importance of fundraising tour

Federal use of A.I. in visa applications could breach human rights, report says

Impacts of automated decision-making involving immigration applications and how errors and assumptions could lead to “life-and-death ramifications”

POLL: How much should rents increase in 2019?

A task force has recommended the provincial government limit rent increases for… Continue reading

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Most Read