Robots and creativity took center stage last week at Julia P. Bryant Elementary when Bulloch County Schools held its Second Annual Regional Technology Fair.
The event was open to third through 12th-grade students from area public, private and home schools. More than 200 students, some working as teams, entered 250 projects in 12 different categories. All first-place winners now advance to the 12th Annual Georgia Educational Technology Fair at Macon State College March 10.
“I was surprised by the sophisticated level of ideas
students presented through their projects,” said Dr. Lucy Green, an assistant professor with Georgia Southern’s Department of Leadership, Technology and Human Development.
Green was one of 132 community volunteers, many from GSU and Ogeechee Technical College, who lent their expertise to judging and facilitating the event which more than doubled in size from last year.
Bulloch County Schools Instructional Technology Specialist Teresa Phillips first had the idea to give students a showcase for their technology skills three years ago. She attended a Georgia Educational Technology Conference and stopped by the Georgia Educational Technology Fair’s booth in the vendor hall.
“I realized that there was only one region south of Macon that was offering such an event and that was in Moultrie,” Phillips said. “We needed one in our area.”
Phillips also was contacted by Bulloch resident Jim Harden, who has worked with the Georgia Educational Technology Consortium for 20 years and served on its board of directors for 11. The group became the sponsoring agency for the state fair after its founder Lou Dewberry died in 2007. Harden and the Consortium were pushing for more participation from regions in south Georgia.
“I’m thrilled with the job Teresa has done,” Harden said. “Last year Bulloch County had the largest first-year participation of any region we’ve ever had.”
Bulloch County is now one of 12 regional fair sites in the state. It its first year, the Bulloch County sent 25 students to the state event. Of those, 14 students placed in the top three in 13 categories. The students performed particularly well in digital photography with three first places and a second place in that category’s five state divisions.
“Our students were so pleased to share their knowledge,” Phillips said. “This year I heard a lot of great things from judges about how students encountered real-life problems while doing their projects, how they were able to troubleshoot, and then out of that process find success.”
This year’s winners will join more than 475 other winners from across the state. Phillips will begin meeting with each winner to review their projects and ensure technology hardware is available for their presentations at the state fair level.
“We received a tremendous amount of community support,” said Bulloch County Schools Instructional Technology Specialist Teresa Phillips, who coordinated the Fair. “We have no budget for this event, and we are the only region that doesn’t charge an entry fee of $20 or more to students. We simply couldn’t do this without the community.”