St.Albans City School 7/8 learning communities had the opportunity to attend Vermont Fest on Thursday November 6, 2014. Renaissance students, Maya Perrault, Kiara Biggs, Colin Lund, Ethan Ireland, and Sebastian Tatro chose to take part in this event. They presented to a group of 35 educators, about one of the Renaissance Community’s active stewardship projects utilizing technology. Stewardship projects are part of the individual communities within St. Albans City School. Communities have chosen these projects to help our community while developing our problem solving and collaboration skills. The majority of these projects are still in progress and span more than one school year.
Vermont Fest takes place at The Killington Grand Resort in Killington. It is an educational technology conference that people involved in education from all over the state attend. There are presentations and workshops that focus on how to creatively use technology in the classroom.
In the past few years, St. Albans Bay has been on high alert due to large amounts of blue- green algae. The water has not been safe for recreational use in this area. One of the primary cause for this blue-green algae in St. Albans Bay is phosphorus runoff from our area. Our project is to improve the trail system design at Hard’ack/Aldis Hill. The phosphorus flows unfiltered down the trails, past the trees, and plants. It doesn’t go through the trees and plants due to the design of the trails. The phosphorus is then carried through storm drains, into the lake. Phosphorus is used for plant growth, and when in the water, it grows algae. Algae produces toxins, and use high levels of oxygen, which kills off large numbers of marine life. The trails are going to be improved to make them more user friendly and to hopefully decrease the runoff that affects the lake.
In March of 2014, Nexus 7 tablets and the My Tracks app were introduced to the Renaissance Learning Community. Students were taught how to use the new technology with an outdoor digital scavenger hunt. The learning community then traveled to Cady Hill Forest in Stowe to observe how the trails were designed and to practice using the new technology. Interviews of engineering firms were held by representatives from Friends of Northern Lake Champlain, St.Albans City, St. Albans Town, St. Albans Mountain Biking Club, The Board of Hard’ack/Aldis Hill, and the Renaissance community. The engineering firm that was chosen was Sinuosity. Trail development experts from Sinuosity taught Renaissance students how to identify and measure different types of erosion. The entire Renaissance community then went to Hard’ack/Aldis Hill to identify, measure and document with pictures the erosion on the trails. The data Renaissance collected was used to produce recommendations for the improvement of the trail system.
Presenting the Hard’ack/Aldis Hill project to a group of educators at Killington was a great opportunity for our learning community. During the presentation, students explained the problems with the trails and Lake Champlain and what was being done to help solve the problem. The teachers described how the technology played a role in the project and how this project strengthened the curriculum and supported our Personal Learning Plans by bringing many professionals into the classroom. The audience had questions for both students and teachers, which everyone thought more about. After the presentation, both students and teachers got to walk around a maker faire. Students observed and tried the different workshops, ideas, and projects. Renaissance students went to Killington with a purpose to share their technology rich project, and left more aware of educational technology in Vermont.