Smyth County Students Win Virginia Technology Integration Challenge

Student Technology Integration Challenge first place prize in middle school desktop publishing category.

Abby Graham's Andy Warhol-inspired art poster won first place in the Student Technology Integration Challenge's middle school desktop publishing category.

Smyth County students won both first-place prizes in the middle school category of the new Virginia Student Technology Integration Challenge. Marion Middle School eighth-grader Abby Graham won first place in the desktop publishing category, while Chilhowie Middle School sixth-grader Molly Yates won first place in the multimedia category. The girls received their prizes on Sunday, December 4, at the Virginia Society for Technology in Education's annual conference in Roanoke.

The Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE) created the Student Technology Integration Challenge to recognize students who have created curriculum-based multimedia or desktop publishing projects. Awards were given in the areas of multimedia and desktop publishing in grades PK-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. Students had to use digital tools to create the projects and find a teacher to sponsor their entries. Tina Cook, who is teaching a new pilot course on computers and technology at Chilhowie Middle School, served as Molly's sponsor, while art teacher Judy Casey served as Abby's sponsor.

Abby's desktop publishing project was inspired by 20th Century artist Andy Warhol. "[Warhol's] new style challenged us to think about what we were slowly becoming and what we needed to change," Abby wrote in the text that accompanied the poster she created. "In my art class, I was presented with the opportunity to learn more about Andy Warhol and his famous artwork. Loving things that are unique and different, I took that challenge."

Abby created her project, titled Swirled in My Memory, by taking a self-portrait with a digital camera, then duplicating and editing the image using tools available on the Picnik image editing website. She printed the pictures and mounted them on posterboard to complete the project. Abby also used Microsoft Publisher desktop publishing software to create the visuals and text that accompanied her project.

Student Technology Integration Challenge first place prize in middle school multimedia category.

Molly Yates' digital movie on pottery won first place in the Student Technology Integration Challenge's middle school multimedia category.

Using 21st Century tools to tell the story of one of humankind's oldest arts, Molly created a project titled Dirt Into Art, a digital movie about pottery making. Molly's mother, Debbie Yates, is an accomplished potter who has taught her craft to both Molly and her younger sister, Sadie. Molly used video and still photography to show the steps involved in producing a variety of different pottery creations, including pots, bowls, plates, lamps, and murals. "Making pottery is a beautiful art to me," Molly wrote on her entry form for the project. "Pottery makes me have more confidence in myself."

Molly used a digital camera to capture the video and still images for her movie, then used Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Premiere Elements, and Windows MovieMaker for post-production work. For her soundtrack, she used a driving Celtic piece by Ari and Mia Friedman, who describe themselves as "Boston's American sister act." Ari and Mia granted Molly copyright permission to use their composition for the Dirt Into Art movie, which you can view here. You will need a digital movie player capable of playing back MPEG4 digital movies, such as Apple's QuickTime or the open-source VLC Media Player. Windows Media Player, which is included with Windows operating systems, may not display the movie correctly.