Riverview students represent South Beloit at Illinois Capitol

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Hillary Gavan/Beloit Daily News (From left, clockwise): Riverview Elementary School fourth graders Vincent Skwarlo, Emma Daily, Yhovana Sandoval, Brody Weber and Trudane Peterson will be participating in a TECH 2017 technology demonstration at the Illinois State Capitol on May 9. Following reading a novel, they created a website on Egypt and designed pyramids to be printed using the districts 3D printer.

SOUTH BELOIT — From building 3D pyramids to debating the powers of Egyptian gods, five students at Riverview Elementary School have learned about ancient history and 21st century skills at the same time during their novel study project.

Fourth grade teacher MJ Meier, a strong proponent of project-based learning, had a group of students not only read “The Red Pyramid” by Rick Riordan, but also use the TynkerCad program to design pyramids using the district’s 3D printer along with creating a website on Egyptian history and culture.

Because of their use of technology students Trudane Peterson, Yhovana Sandoval, Emma Daily, Brody Weber and Vincent Skwarlo will be participating in the 2017 technology demonstration at the Illinois State Capitol Building in Springfield on May 9 known as TECH 2017.

Hundreds of students and teachers from schools around the state will show the public and members of the Illinois State Senate and House of Representatives how technology is being used in the classroom. The purpose of TECH 2017 is to raise awareness of the critical role technology plays in preparing students to succeed in today’s world and to show the need for increased funding for classroom technology.

TECH 2017 is a not-for-profit initiative presented by Illinois Computer Educators and is supported by a broad range of education and business organizations.

Meier said the project stemmed out of a novel study project. Her students broke into groups reading novels and doing a variety of accompanying projects such as forming debates on banned books. With so many different levels of learning in fourth grade, she said project-based learning can be a great way for students to work at their ability level while learning teamwork, critical thinking and more.

Meier said she likes every book students are reading to be accompanied by an overarching project to incorporate more learning. Her students’ most recent novel project encompassed reading, social studies and language arts in addition to technology.

Project-based learning also keep students more engaged and interested in their work.

“There is an Egyptian god for everything, “ Vincent said about the book “The Red Pyramid.” “They have magic gods that can solve a Rubix cube in one minute.”

Trudane, Yhovana, Emma, Brody and Vincent took their novel project to new heights, literally. They are researching individual pyramids, building them on computer software and will be printing them off of the high school’s printer.

In addition to project-based learning, Meier uses every opportunity to promote use of technology in the class and hosts a coding group for students. Because of their exposure to technology, she said many of her students have decided to pursue technology-related careers in the future.

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