Saturday, May 28, 2016

To Compete or Not to Compete

This week, I took my students to the PA Computer Fair to compete in digital design and webpage design. Both students worked really hard on their projects and I'm extremely proud of their final projects.
Their projects on display.

Before we took the journey to Dickinson College, we started regionally. I learned about the Delco Computer Fair about a week before the entries were due. With such a short time frame, I looked at the work students had already completed in class and found two of them qualified for the competition.

After speaking with those students, I submitted their names to Delco. It seems that for both categories, my students didn't have much local competition and their names were passed on for the state level.

We spent the next few weeks using the feedback from our local judge to improve their presentations before the big day. Their technical projects were ready but we were told that displays were important as well. As a first time adviser to this level of competitions, I feel that I learned just as much, if not more, than my students. Many of the tri-folds displayed were of professional quality. One piece, largely printed displays were common compared to our hand made boards.

While we didn't take home any prizes, it was a great day and everyone enjoyed themselves. Besides the competition, there were activities set up for students while the judges where evaluating the projects. My students choose to attend "Angry Nerds" which was a Quizzo style game using Kahoot.

So here's my dilemma, and the purpose of this post's title. When did competitions become about the money spent on displays and not the process. There were projects better than my students', I'll admit that. However, the presentations that won the prizes were not, in my opinion, the best work. They were just the fanciest displays. Additionally, the grand prize was only $150 yet based on what these students had set up, they spent much more than that on the display. So how do we encourage students to compete without forcing parents to spend a fortune? How do we encourage students to compete without parents and teachers micromanaging?

For my students, I wanted it to be about the experience. They both worked hard and our school was extremely supportive of getting them to the competition. Honestly, I think I'm more disappointed than they are about the results. Perhaps it's because when the mother asked about uploading her design and ordering business cards from a website, I had replied "no, we can print them at school. No reason to spend extra money" only to get there and see everything professionally made.

Live and learn. I took pictures of the competition and next year if I encourage students to enter, I'll make sure they see what they need to beat.

No comments:

Post a Comment