TechJam Shows Middle School Students The Fun Side of Tech

| David Swenson, Community Development Specialist, Microsoft


What happens when you unleash a full spectrum of technology on over 200 middle school students? A day of tech, learning, and fun! This April, our Burlington Microsoft Store headed to Shawsheen Valley High School in Billerica for TechJam, a day of tech delivered to students — and we had just as much fun as they did! With 15 Microsoft Retail volunteers, we headed to Shawsheen to take over the school with STEM delights.


Alongside areas that the school’s robotics and engineering team put together, our group of volunteers spread out across the building to set up six different zones that brought Microsoft technology straight to students:

  • Zone 1: BB-8 Robot Race — An Nguyen & Jade Gosnell
    We brought along an iconic Star Wars character BB8! In the gym, Jade & An helped all 280 kids pilot BB8 through a cone obstacle course – teaching them about the sensors in their smartphones and how wireless connectivity works in iOT devices.
  • Zone 2: Xbox One Minecraft — Rachel Sodi & John Grzyballa
    Rachel & John ran a classroom and taught each kid the fundamentals of coding with Minecraft on Xbox One consoles. The kids were so excited when they saw that Minecraft was an activity at the event!
  • Zone 3: Xbox One Project Spark — Nicholas Martino & Beverly Markwith
    Beverly & Nick ran a classroom with 10 Xbox One consoles loaded with Project Spark. The kids loved exploring the open world of Project Spark and shared their creations with each other.
  • Zone 4: Surface FreshPaint Art Zone — Jena Mancini & Amy Pestena
    Both Jena & Amy did an amazing job instructing all the kids on how to create with the Surface Pen in FreshPaint. The kids all were able to print and take their artwork with them!
  • Zone 5: Xbox Kinect Sports — MD Islam & Evan Pharm
    Our two FITNESS ALLSTARS MD & Evan got every kid up and moving in front of the Kinect camera! From bowling to jet ski racing, the kids were on their feet nonstop!
  • Zone 6: Drone Zone -Joe Dire, Brett Chartenitz & Julian Wiryo
    Goose, Maverick & Iceman(Call signs chosen by them) taught all 280 kids how to pilot a drone using a smartphone! They taught the kids the fundamentals of their Wi-Fi direct which connects the phones to the drone and about onboard solid state memory the drones use to store pictures and videos.

20160421_163940878_iOSAfter a day of fun and nonstop activity, we were thrilled to hear the kids talk to one another about the projects they created and the new tech they learned. We are already planning an event themed for Adults in September, focused on Office 365, Windows 10 and the power of the cloud. We are looking forward to next year’s TechJam, and couldn’t thank Shawsheen Valley High enough!

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