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Future Technology Comes to Austin Middle School [PHOTOS]

Irving – Excitement filled Austin Middle School as students experienced the newest addition to their school. Irving ISD and Verizon Wireless American Telecommunications Company hosted a ribbon cutting for the new Verizon Innovative Learning lab at the school on Thursday, Feb. 13.

“This lab is going to impact our students and our campus in a very positive way,” Channa Barrett, principal of the school, said.

“We’re here because of two things partnership and opportunity,” Remmele Young, state and local government affairs at Verizon, said. “We’re really excited to be partnering with Austin Middle School.

“[This lab] gives them an opportunity to engage in STEM related programmatic activities, and that affects positive change in communities. We hope we can help effect positive change along with you.”

The lab gives students and teachers access to emerging-technology such as augmented and virtual reality, coding, circuit building, 3D printing and artificial intelligence. Along with partnering with Verizon, the school has also partnered with Arizona State University to develop classes, so students can learn to utilize the technology.

“Arizona State University provides us with a curriculum we will follow in the years to come,” James Tiggeman, coordinator of digital learning in Irving ISD, said. “[We] will teach specific courses to the students, so they are prepared not just for jobs that exist now but to create their own jobs in the future and whatever jobs exist when they graduate college.

“The skills we’re teaching aren’t static. [They] are computational thinking, design-thinking skills that will help you in any field to pursue whether it’s science or any other career. It’s important to teach these skills, because they go beyond the traditional reading, writing, math and science. We are going into things that will help them for a future that doesn’t exist, help them make the world better through STEM challenges.”

“I can’t wait to see what their imaginations come up with,” Tiggeman said. “[Students] are going to be challenged to develop products that solve real world problems. They’re going to prototype them, fix them, change them, make them better, and at the end, they’re going to have something real, a real tangible product that is going to solve a problem in the world [like] clean water issues, world hunger issues or global inequity issues. It’s going to be amazing what our young minds develop.”

“I love science,” Kyra Bergeron, sixth grader, said. “I was really happy when they said we were getting a new STEM lab.

During the ribbon cutting, students used and explored some of the technology in the lab under the guidance of Verizon volunteers.

Bergeron enjoyed trying out the virtual reality station.

“[I like] how it’s really realistic when you turn around, and you can actually see every dimension of it,” Bergeron said. “If you think about it, you can turn virtual reality into almost anything.”

“There’s a lot you can learn from your teachers and your books, but actually getting your hands dirty and experiencing stuff increases your knowledge to a whole different level,” Mukunda Raju, manager of software development at Verizon, said. “You can read about positive and negative [charges] and batteries in books, but when you take a LED and stick it into a battery and see that it lights up, it makes your brain think in different ways.

“It was a pleasure coming in here and looking at the [students] and seeing how they were enjoying actually doing all of this stuff. I can’t wait to see what these [students] do when they grow up.”

You can view photos from the event below:

Photos by Luke Schumacher