Wednesday, April 27th, 2011
By Margie Wuebker
Students go technical
  Students today use Smart Boards, Netbooks, laptop computers, mobile learning devices and iPads with apps instead of paper and pencils.   
They check grades on Progress Book, keep track of college offerings on Facebook, learn of new developments on Leader Alert, dissect frogs without picking up a scalpel and perform experiments on thermodynamic equilibrium without so much as chemicals or a trusty Bunsen burner.
Nearly a hundred people in attendance at the Mercer County Community Development Department's spring breakfast forum Tuesday morning learned technology continues to change the face of education.
Students from Celina and Fort Recovery high schools talked to attendees about technology in their everyday lives.
Asked about the proliferation of cell phones at the high school level, the Celina students estimated 90 percent of their peers have cell phones with about half of those equipped with Internet access. Most admitted they don't check e-mail as frequently as their Facebook accounts.
Betsy Crites, technology integration coach, said the Celina district has 480 mobile learning devices and 200 Smart Boards in use with more expected in the future. Additionally, the staff has logged 864 technology inservice hours.
Celina City Schools Superintendent Matt Miller said integration of technology in recent years has led to increased student engagement and decreased discipline issues.
Fort Recovery High School students shared with the forum audience the work they have been doing for Fort Recovery Industries and JR Manufacturing through a pre-engineering program called Project Lead the Way.
One group's chain drive lift is designed to lift and dump heavy barrels filled with chips from CNC machines. Completion of a prototype is expected in a week or so with actual construction scheduled by the end of May. The other group designed a new method for picking up heavy bundles to utilize the services of one employee instead of two, to reduce damage to parts and to improve safety. The prototype should be completed in May with implementation coming in June or July.
High school principal Jeff Hobbs said schools and students throughout Mercer County receive tremendous support from the business community.
"This is the best county in the state in terms of education," he said. "Our schools rank excellent or excellent with distinction. Our young people go off to college and then businesses here give them a reason to come back."
County economic development director Jared Ebbing encouraged students to stay connected with the website Mercercountyconnect.com.
Based on surveys with 70 business in the area, Ebbing's office is putting together a database that has the capability to match students with job opportunities.
"You never know when opportunity will present itself," Ebbing said. "When the time is right, opportunity won't wait."
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