The Texas Computer Education Association, better known as TCEA, hosts an annual conference and exposition, bringing together students, educators and coding professionals. This multi-day conference encourages attendees to share new computer education best practices, participate in workshops, and attend presentations by other students from around the country. Renton Prep students were among some of this year’s presenters.
The TCEA hosts thousands of attendees every year and in 2017 these attendees included Renton Prep students and staff. Below are some of the reflections from the students who attended and/or presented at the TCEA Expo.
Engaging the Audience
“For every conference I’ve spoken at, especially TCEA, I received positive and constructive feedback, and it makes me happy to see smiles in the crowd and to know that people are actually looking at and appreciating the work I do. I hope that all students will get to experience this feeling with me. TCEA was no exception.” – Jennifer Fernandez, TCEA 2017 Student Presenter
As students, the importance of mutual understanding within education with mentor and learner goes far in our books. Whether it be the teacher learning from the student, the student to student mentorship, or the educator teaching the student, there is not one educational medium more beneficial to follow. Rather than sticking to one of the modes of education, the most suitable environment for students like us to thrive is when all three are combined. This creates a, “melting pot”, of education boiling us down to be the best versions of ourselves with so much emotional, and physical support from everyone at school.
TCEA 2017 in Austin was my (McCoy) first conference out of the state of Washington, and although my parents were pushing me to accept this opportunity only so that colleges can see this on my resume, I personally felt like it goes much deeper than this. Deeper than something that you can just write on your resume, TCEA was an active, engaging learn experience for all of us. For me personally, I’ve never been confident about my speaking ability, but talking about something I love like our project on Minecraft (DOS for Dummies: Meet Minecraft), had me not even nervous when talking to teachers about its use in education. I feel like when a mutual bond of learning between student and mentor is reached, learning from both sides is increased exponentially.
I’ve (Jennifer) been to several conferences before and have had some wonderful opportunities to speak in front of crowds. In my everyday life, I’m shy. However, speaking in front of a crowd is super energizing and refreshing. In fact, the crowd at TCEA may be one of my favorites. The teachers I met were passionate and willing to learn which really inspired me to do my best talking to them and sharing my ideas. I would definitely love to present there again.
Speaking and Teaching With Passion
When a student is incredibly passionate about a subject, or topic, more than just strictly the criteria and constraints can be explored further. By this, we mean the enjoyment of school which is rare amongst us, and applying that enjoyment towards adding some features of fun and humor in our projects. Specifically, like within our Gingerbread Man Trap STE(A)M Project, one group was made up of me (McCoy), Alex, and Alan. We all had a burning passion of the NBA (National Basketball Association), its players, as well as its teams. The passion from creating a project showed clear cut in the final product, as we had all the criteria, but most importantly humor and comedy. The TCEA experience really got us thinking about the uses and significance of humor from our project in other future projects, and a worldwide view. This was caused by our audience laughing at our project, not in any bad way, but from the purposeful humor we incorporated. Seeing them laugh really made us group members smile, and really become more proud of our works. We learned of the attention-grabbing nature of humor, and that our audience can see STEAM projects can be extremely fun if done right.
My (Alan) main reason for going to TCEA was to learn and experience presenting. I was a little bit nervous at first but once I stepped up and got more used to presenting, I got into it more and I was more involved. It was a lot of fun seeing all the different teachers from different backgrounds. It’s not just everyday someone, even as a student, gets the opportunity that I got like the TCEA conference so I was very lucky attend. We got to present about Renton Prep’s technology and way of learning. One of these ways, VR (virtual reality), seen in our Calligrafitti: Experimental Handlettering from Analogy to Virtual project really interested me because I don’t have too much experience with VR. I found out that lots of teachers don’t see the way I see school. Some are used to traditional mode of textbook teaching, some have some experience in incorporating technology in their schools. I feel like this new technology is the true future of education, as so many jobs nowadays have technological aspects. Connecting technology to famous things in the world like our Pixar in a Box Meets Sagrada Familia project also is valuable to us as students. These types of projects reach so many subjects in school that like in some way, they’ll increase your proficiency in whatever career field you want to go into. Now that I know what this conference is like, I would attend another conference similar to this again.
Working With the Crowd
“I felt the energy when I got on stage. Talking to people at the Minecraft booth was fun, talking to the teachers and asking them what they do for a living. Most of the teachers were really friendly and they asked many questions that I was glad to answer.” – Alex Lai, TCEA 2017 Student Presenter
I (Alex) have never really done much public speaking. I felt the eyes of the audience giving their attention to us during TCEA, I felt the energy when I got on stage. All of us are not the most outgoing of people, and either are shy or don’t have that much experience with public speaking in such a professional setting. I felt like this experience was a personal benefit for all of us in our own perspectives. For me, I really liked the public speaking experience, as this can help me in the future for business and the career I want to pursue. I had an unforgettable experience at TCEA.
Renton Prep prides itself on providing its students with opportunities like the TCEA Conference and Expo. By exposing students to new thoughts and ideas, and encouraging them to work collaboratively with other students and professionals, Renton Prep students gain confidence and participate in hands-on learning experiences that extend far beyond the classroom. For more information about this experience please visit the TCEA website.