New age of technology dawns at Monterey

Oak Bay students tackle coding and programming in the classroom

Andrei Bielay

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

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

With local high schoolers unable to have a traditional graduation ceremony due to COVID-19 restrictions, Amica Douglas House celebrated the momentous occasion of eight of their dining room servers. (Courtesy Amica Douglas House)
8 Greater Victoria teens don fancy dresses, celebrate grad with seniors

With celebrations nixed, Amica Douglas House hosts event for its serving staff

Helicopter crew members onboard HMCS Halifax conduct inflight refueling during Operation Reassurance in the Mediterranean Sea in 2020. Some of the military choppers flying around Greater Victoria recently are taking part in a special ops training exercise. (Photo by Cpl. Braden Trudeau/Trinity-Formation Imaging Services)
Special Ops exercise brings influx of helicopters to Victoria

Ontario-based air force unit comes to Victoria to train over ocean

(Black Press Media file photo)
School parking problems plague Oak Bay residents

Need exceeds official requirements for parking at St. Michaels school

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

Most Read