Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


February 27, 2014

From support squad to innovators

Tech-savvy students writing program for new high school lab


Fellow Innovation Lab member Peter Banta, a 17-year-old junior, also focused on an aspect of game development.

Using the three-dimensional modeling standby Maya 3D, Banta crafted spaceships from pictures he found on the Internet for the upcoming space trading and combat simulator video game Star Citizen.

Banta said the project gave him “early experience in the field, so you’ll know, if you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll have an idea how to go forward,” he said. “I’m working with something that’s going to be used in the field.”

As a final assignment, each student must create a final presentation for the class using Google Hangout — a collaboration medium akin to video conferencing. Downs likened the presentation to a review board in the tech industry.

“The presentation is really student-driven,” he said. “We have other students in on the final presentation, and they have to ask questions.”

Initially, only three students signed up for the Innovation Lab during its first semester in existence, Downs said. But as that trio started making the rounds of classrooms to provide technological troubleshooting for the staff, word spread and interest grew sharply, he said. Now, 15 students are enrolled.

Patel said with the larger group, the students are looking at potentially introducing a ticket system to better manage tech support requests during peak times.

Eli Gukovsky, 16, meanwhile, hopes to see the lab expanding out of its current location, which is essentially a closet at the back of the high school library. The room is home to a few computers, maybe the occasional motherboard and some furniture.

“I would think, eventually, we’re getting so many kids, we might get a better room,” Gukovsky said.

Downs said one option for the Innovation Lab might be to have a dedicated help desk in the library itself.

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