BIC to implement EAST Initiative
Buffalo Island Central will be one of 14 schools in Arkansas that will implement the EAST program in the 2014-2015 school year with the help of grants through the Arkansas Department of Education.
"EAST stands for environmental and spatial technology," BIC superintendent Gaylon Taylor explained. "What it is, is a classroom set up with the most up to date technology around. It gives our kids the capability to do unlimited things all the way from video production, animation creation to GPS applications. The sky's the limit."
Taylor explained that unlike in traditional classrooms, in the EAST program the students are in charge of the instruction and the teacher acts a facilitator. The district will receive about $150,000 in grant funds to setup the EAST classroom with 3D printers, computers and much more.
"It is student driven," Taylor said. "The learning process if for the students to be able to teach themselves the software. There are tutorial programs they will go to, but then they have to come back and do the actual application. The teacher is there to make sure the students stay on task and they will help organize, but they will not say this is how this is done. It is a different approach. It really is the approach that common core is taking."
Taylor said for BIC it is going to be critical to recruit kids into the program. Since it is so different than the traditional classroom setting most students don't know what it is all about.
"Once they find out what it is, I don't think we will have trouble getting students in the program," Taylor said. "They are going to love it. "We took a group of our high school students as well as our administrators to Nettleton where they were able to look at the equipment, look at projects and get some hands on experience with the EAST program. We will do that again when school starts. The kids who have signed up for that we will take and let them get a more hands experience so they can get a better idea of what they will be doing."
Part of the EAST program is using the technology in the classroom to do a community project. Taylor explained that the number of community service projects can do are limitless. He said EAST is probably more beneficial to the community than to the school because the students will be taking on community projects.
"They may take on a GPS project, they can help a farmer, they can help the city," Taylor said. "They could build their own app for each city, they can help local businesses. It is kind of hard to explain because there really isn't a limit to what they can do with this program. At Nettleton, and what I hope that we could have here eventually, is a dynamic Veterans Day program. Again those ideas are up to the kids. We just have to expose them to what this is about and let their minds work to figure out what they want to make happen."
Taylor said the EAST program coming to BIC is one of the best things that could happen for the students and the district.
"To me outside of test scores this is the most exciting thing that has happened," Taylor said. "Because technology is the future for schools and this is a form of technology our kids will really be able to exceed in, get full scholarships in, and have job opportunities galore. If they so desire to, they will be able to create a Pixar type animation movie. They will have that capability."