Madison Junior High School students Dustin Perry, left, and Daman Bartlett work on their laptops in Room 30.
Madison Junior High School students Dustin Perry, left, and Daman Bartlett work on their laptops in Room 30.
In Room 30 at Madison Junior High School, students can interact through group-based learning projects, watch educational videos or take a virtual field trip to almost anywhere in the world. Likewise, teachers can interact and chat with other educators during special simulcasts.

The room, in use for the first time this year, allows students and teachers to embrace the district's technology push.

"The traditional classroom model is changing," said Lisa Cutshall, district technology director. "It used to be a teacher-centered classroom. It needs to be a student-centered model of instruction and have technology threaded in everything."

The technology equipment for the room was purchased through an Indiana Department of Education classroom innovation grant. The room includes three ActivBoards - better known as interactive whiteboards. Madison Precision Products donated much of the material for the room and even built wooden risers for the students.

"Everything in here is flexible and mobile," Cutshall said. "We've got the project space where they can meet and discuss in teams. The visual learners, they can actually hook up their laptops and project on their own board."

Seventh-grade science teacher Kerri Bedingham has been using the room for the past nine weeks for exactly those purposes.

Her science classes have explored a wide range of topics that involve the basic principles of physics. The class has built a roller coaster, and it also joined forces with St. Bartholomew Catholic School in Columbus to design a zip line for eXplore Brown County.

The assignments were entirely rooted in technology. Bedingham said teaching with technology allows students to use a number of different learning techniques, especially since so many children are better visual learners.

The students broke into groups, and used their laptops for notes and online tutorial videos. They also used online video games to help gauge important factors in roller coasters such as friction, speed, kinetic energy and potential energy. Then, they built models to represent their own designs.

"By actually building it, it helped us get a better picture of what it is, and that way later on we could actually explain it for a test," said seventh-grader Journey Callis.

Fellow classmate Chance Hacker said he had trouble as a student last year. He said the project-based learning - and use of technology - allowed him to take a more hands-on approach to his education. On his most recent test - which was given online - he said he earned an 85.

"I'm very proud of that," Bedingham said.