HAMLET — Students at Hamlet Middle School take science seriously, thanks to 3-D instruction that brings course content to life.
Jordan Page’s seventh-grade class took part in a lesson on cells, tissues, organs and organ systems Friday and it was obvious the students were highly engaged and receptive.
COMMON CORE TIE-INS
Principal Jim Butler and Joe Richardson of the Richmond County Board of Education joined Page and the students as they got up-close and personal with arteries and veins. Much of the technology behind the school system’s 3-D projects was bought with the Common Core state standards in mind.
State lawmakers could do away with the national learning standards — the N.C. House and Senate passed separate bills Wednesday and Thursday to abandon Common Core. But school officials said the 3-D projects would likely remain even if the current standards are scrapped.
“I don’t think that’s necessarily going to impact the technology,” Butler said. “When students are engaged and learning, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is learning is taking place.”
“Common Core has some problems,” Richardson said. “I don’t think we should throw it out immediately. It would cause chaos in the classrooms. What I believe our lawmakers should be doing is including teachers and principals in an effort to find the problems — and there are problems.”
Richardson said he is aware that Common Core has raised numerous concerns among professional educators not only in North Carolina, but nationwide. South Carolina and Oklahoma are two recent states that have abandoned the standards. The difference is that each of those states has a “Plan B.”
“If they don’t fix the problems with Common Core, teachers are not going to buy into it,” Richardson said. “But before we throw out the baby with the bathwater, we need to take a look at this thing. People in Raleigh can’t just throw it out with nothing in place to replace it with.”
Jeff Epps from the district informational technology department explained that of the three components of learning, Friday’s phase is called consumption.
“It is the first, basic stage of learning, when the students consume or take in data,” Epps said. “After that comes manipulation, and finally creation — stages when that knowledge is used to put something together.”
During Richardson’s long career in education, he said 3-D education is a giant leap in the right direction for students and teachers in Richmond County Schools.
“It’s always important for a teacher to ask herself, ‘How can I engage my students?’” he said. “This is an absolutely positive way to accomplish that goal.”
Butler said deciding which technology to use is an ongoing process in the school district.
“Engagement also eliminates discipline problems and inattentiveness,” Butler said. “The technology is one of many tools. We go through a lot of trial and error to find the tools that work best for our students.”
Epps said the addition of a 3-D printer to Hamlet Middle School next year will make the creation phase of learning more hands-on.
“The students will actually be able to produce physically what they create using the special software,” Epps said.
Seventh-grader Cha-Leysia Bowman is eager to use 3-D technology whenever she gets a chance. She finds practically everything more interesting that way.
“I like it,” Bowman said. “It’s more interesting than watching regular video. You can really see it, all the parts working. It’s much better than an ordinary picture. And 3-D printing is going to be amazing. Very cool.”
Page has very specific expectations of her students, whether they are learning using 3-D videos and modeling or recalling prior knowledge and taking notes.
“I want to make them understand why they need to know these things,” she said. “I just remember being young myself and sitting in a science class wondering what I was doing there and why it mattered. The real-world experiences — life experiences — are important. They may know someone with cancer or a heart condition and wonder how that happened and why.”
Reach Reporter Melonie Flomer at 910-997-3111, ext. 15.