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Dayton High School, Dayton, Oregon

Innovate Dayton
TALK NERDY TO ME—In addition to learning coding, programming and engineering skills, students in the “Innovate Dayton” program participate in competitive robotics events.
TALK NERDY TO ME—In addition to learning coding, programming and engineering skills, students in the “Innovate Dayton” program participate in competitive robotics events.
District: 
Dayton School District
State: 
Oregon
Program category: 
Award Cycle: 

Innovate Dayton is designed to “Open the Door of Opportunity” for students and the community of Dayton.

Dayton High School in Oregon’s Dayton School District is partnering with Online NW, a local internet provider. It will provide Dayton homes and busi-nesses with the fastest internet speeds. With that, Dayton can better prepare students for high-demand tech jobs.

The project, which kicked off in 2015, is part of Innovate Oregon, an initiative that provides creative problem-solving and empowers students to tackle challenges facing the state.

Dayton High students are learning coding and programming, robotics, engineering and design processes—using a range of tools and project-based learning concepts. “Students are realizing their ability to create and be bringers of change,” says Patrick Verdun, innovations and social studies teacher. “They are empowered.”

For example, students learn about computer coding with software that lets them program their own interactive stories, games and animations—and share them online.

They create and test apps with MIT App Inventor, which introduces them to programming and app creation that transforms text-based coding into visual, drag-and-drop building blocks.

From there, students move on to programming an Arduino board, which is an open-source platform for building electronics. Arduino includes a programmable circuit board and software to write and upload computer code to the board.

At the end of the semester, students design and engineer a unique shoe sole using design drawing, clay and urethane rubber. “Shoes are a big deal here,” says Verdun, noting that Nike and Adidas are headquartered nearby. They partnered with Lemelson Foundation, which promotes invention, and MIT to create the curriculum. “Once students learn the design process for shoe soles, they can design and cast and mold anything else they want to make,” he says.

Students are using programming projects in science, filming and editing short films for health class, and 3D-printing ancient relics for history. Some relics include a pirate ship or ancient coins.

With new makerspaces, students will have the chance to create real solutions to real problems in their community and possibly beyond, says Verdun.

“I have learned that we must accept we don’t know everything,” he says. “Students need to know it is okay to fail and that they will learn more from their failures than their successes.”