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Students explore new opportunities with launch of VP-TECH
Sept. 9, 2015





HERKIMER – During introductions on the opening morning of the new Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School, VP-TECH math/science teacher David Dow spoke about it being the first day for both the teachers and the students.

Dow said the teachers chose to be there, and so did the students, when they decided to try something different by joining VP-TECH.

“That’s a pretty cool starting point for all of us,” he said.

VP-TECH, launched through a state grant, opened on Tuesday, Sept. 8, at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES with more than 30 students from Herkimer BOCES component school districts. The students, who are in ninth grade now, will be part of the program for four and a half to six years.

Students spend their entire school day at Herkimer BOCES, where they learn their core subjects through project-based learning and take physical education as well. They’re still able to participate in sports, clubs and activities with their home schools.

When students complete the program, they will leave with a Regents diploma, an associate degree in quality assurance from Herkimer College and a certification in advanced manufacturing. From there, they will have the option to continue their education on their own or have first access to job openings in the industry.

Based on the direction the region is heading with Nano Utica and local businesses established in the advanced manufacturing field, VP-TECH was set up to help students on a path toward jobs they’re interested in that they could obtain locally or elsewhere, VP-TECH Principal Brittany DerCola said.

“These students love technology,” she said. “They’re just looking at ways to better prepare themselves for the future.”

VP-TECH student Brooke Newtown, 14, of Central Valley Academy, said she was going through college and career options and thinking about the nanotechnology and other efforts locally, when she decided on VP-TECH.

“This was probably the best plan,” she said, of what she decided.

Newtown said she is looking forward to using the MakerBot three-dimensional printers, Lego Robotics and more while taking the class.

VP-TECH students have access to the 3-D printers, iPads, laptops, work stations with television monitors to display their work, walls with whiteboard paint on them that they can write on and more.

Jacob Shortt, 14, of Frankfort-Schyuler, said he heard about VP-TECH during a presentation at school and decided to try a path toward the type of thing he wants to do for a career – such as engineering or robotics.
He said he looks forward to getting to know everyone in the class better.

“It’s a lot of group work; a lot of hands-on,” he said.

VP-TECH social studies teacher Lauren Coffin said that’s one of the main goals of VP-TECH.

“It’s for the students to come in and do a lot of project-based learning,” she said. “They get to use the latest technology.”

The teachers are adjusting to an exciting chance to co-teach and do cross-curricular teaching, Coffin said.

“We’re learning, as well as the students,” she said.



VP-TECH students on first day
VP-TECH students gather for the first day of school on Tuesday, Sept. 8, as they hear from VP-TECH math/science teacher David Dow. The VP-TECH classroom has tables and chairs all on wheels, so they can be moved around for group work, and there is whiteboard paint on the walls, so students and teachers can write all over the walls.



VP-TECH students on first day in learning lab
VP-TECH students collaborate at works stations in the VP-TECH lab on their first day, Tuesday, Sept. 8, at Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES. Each student has a laptop to use at the work stations, which also have television screens that students can display their work on.



MakerBot 3-D printer
Pictured here in back, a MakerBot three-dimension printer in the VP-TECH lab creates a yellow pencil holder. An orange, already completed pencil holder made by another one of the 3-D printers is shown in front. VP-TECH students are allotted makerspace time to create using the printers.









 
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