STEAM students put lessons to use and build a computer

Dylan Miller For Echo Pilot
Greencastle-Antrim School District Infrastructure Engineer Jason Latta, left, works with high school students Byron Trueax and Cameron McKee and Director of Technology Dwight Bard, to install the motherboard into a computer case as part of their project to construct a computer for school use.

Greencastle-Antrim High School students got the opportunity Friday to not only further their understanding of computer science, but to physically construct a computer that will later be used by other students.

The opportunity was made possible for students in the Occupations in Technology (OccTech) class by science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) instructor Tara Clopper, who submitted a grant to fund the project.

“In January, there was a call for technology grants by the Greater Chamber Foundation in Chambersburg, and I thought of this project where kids could research parts online to design their own computer, then build it with our district technology director,” she said. “The grant proposal, called the iBuild Computer Science Meets Makerspace grant, was approved and funding was then provided for the project.”

“Basically, we did an intro lesson where people were learning the basic components of a computer, such as RAM, hard drives, CPU, then once they had some foundational knowledge we had the students break off into groups and do a presentation on what they learned,” said Dwight Bard, director of technology. “Then, we went straight into the computer build process where I gave them the minimum specs they needed to meet to build their computers. I directed them to different websites to research the specific parts so they could find the better product in terms of performance and price.”

Once all the preparation and research was complete, Bard took components of each group and ordered the necessary parts for the students to put together.

“I’ve never put together a computer before, but with the help of the instructors it’s not as bad as I thought,” said G-AHS student Akaanksh Kambalimath. “It’s fun so far and we’ve waited a while to do this, but I’m hoping to get more into software to move into a career.”

“Today, I’m really going to give the students as little instruction as possible so they’ll have to collaborate and troubleshoot,” Bard said. “We got empty computer cases along with the motherboard components that everything plugs into, and we also have the hard drive, RAM, graphics cards and power supplies. It’s like a big real-world puzzle they have to figure out, so the biggest takeaway for the students is by far the experience.”

As the name of the class would suggest, students in OccTech are exposed to a number of fields in technology, which helps them choose their field of interest for future pursuits.

“We’ve had different employees and business owners out in the market that came and spoke to the class about their jobs,” said Bard.

G-AHS offers many additional courses within the technology component of STEAM.

“These are all classes that have a real-world application, and this is especially true in our digital foundation course where we cover the basics of Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel, how to email property, cyber security and basic components of the computer,” said Clopper. “In these classes, students have said they’ve learned more about technology than they’ve ever learned in any other class.”