The district will celebrate the opening of the Dream Factory at 1:00 p.m. on January 23, 2013 at Elizabeth Forward Middle School at 401 Rock Run Road, Elizabeth, PA 15037. At the event, emcee WTAE-TV Weekend Morning Anchor Jackie Shafer will welcome representatives from the region’s most prestigious tech organizations and universities, parents, government officials and students will join the opening celebration. District administrators will reflect on the development of the space and conduct tours with presentations from teachers and students. They will also have an opportunity to experience the amazing technologies available.
“By providing access to technology of this kind, students are creating projects in traditional manners and transforming them,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bart Rocco. “Our teachers have embraced the curriculum and supplied lessons that are inspiring students to be dream beyond conventional means.”
The program combines Art, Computer Science and Technology Education curriculum and enables every middle school student to learn robotics, engineering, design and programming and provides access to state of the art technology. Students transform inventive ideas into real objects, using laser cutters, 3D Printing and 3D Design, robotics, computer programming, micro-controllers and wood shop equipment. Additionally, the space features a functioning television studio with a green screen and iPad apps to create quick animation.
“Students develop an idea to make something, whether it’s a stuffed animal or solar panel for their lunch box, and they take it to the Dream Factory and it becomes a reality,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bart Rocco. “After they’ve created the item, they can record a video or develop animation to share their item.”
Students enter the Dream Factory through “Innovation Hallway” that features inspiring images including photographs of great innovators like Henry Ford and Steve Jobs. Three classrooms work together to guide students to understand how useful it is to become skilled in technology. Students in sixth and seventh grades learn problem solving skills and hone a better understanding of how art, technology education and computer science are interconnected. Eighth grade students use skills learned to dream and develop projects.
“We’re so excited to offer students at our middle school access to these innovative technologies,”
The Dream Factory was partly made possible by grants from the Grable and Benedeum foundations and a “Hive” grant from the Sprout Fund. Development partners also include Mickey McManus, CEO of Maya Design, who provided guidance during development and Carnegie Mellon University who assisted in developing an iPad app to create tops on the 3D printer. Students later competed in a contest with their tops.
The district is providing an opportunity for students to experience the Dream Factory through its Summer Enrichment Program offered to students fourth through eighth grades. This summer, more than 30 students participated in the program from six school districts in three counties. The students learned to use simple 3D modeling tools with iPads to explore how to prototype and fabricate any idea and how to use the 3D printer and print 3D objects. Beginning this spring, the district will provide the opportunity again to students in districts without these types of technologies. The program will be offered two Saturdays of each month for the remainder of the school year.
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Elizabeth Forward School District is composed of the Borough of Elizabeth, Elizabeth Township and Forward Township. Located approximately 35 minutes south of the city of Pittsburgh, the district lies between the scenic Yough and Monongahela river valleys in the southernmost region of Allegheny County. The mission of the Elizabeth Forward School District is to establish a collaborative working relationship with its families and communities to create learning environments for all students that nurture the academic, social and emotional skills of each student through high expectations of excellence that produce life-long learners, world ready leaders and citizens who are prepared to meet the ever-changing challenges of a global society. The district currently has a student population of approximately 2,400 students.