On February 8, the Kids+Creativity Network Primer brought teachers, principals, and superintendents from Pittsburgh area school districts together with representatives from local cultural and educational institutions in an expo style showcase of technology, creativity, and learning. These technology trailblazers dazzled educators with projects such as the CREATE Lab’s Hear Me Project, Carnegie Science Center’s Tour Your Future program, and the Tech Shop soon to be opening at Bakery Square. There was a buzz of excitement as educators networked with peers, explored potential partnerships, and discovered innovative ideas to bring back to their school districts.

All echoed the value of being tapped into a network of educators and researchers who are eager to collaborate and further integrate technology into education. Here’s what we heard.

On the Kids + Creativity Network:

“I immediately started going to the Kids + Creativity meetings, and found amazing partners for all our grants. With grant support and putting us in touch with other people in the city, it feels a lot less like a competition and more like a community out to do the same things.” Corey Wittig, program manager of the Labs at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

“It’s not always necessary to start from scratch and reinvent the wheel. We want to look at how things are being developed here with the Kids + Creativity Network…what are some of the mistakes they’ve made, what are some of the right things they did. We just want to take advantage of that.” – Pradeep Fulay, associate dean at Statler College of Engineering in West Virginia University

“I’m here to gather more information and celebrate the fact that MacArthur Foundation is partnering [with] and specifically looking at the Pittsburgh region, because we have so much to offer here. It really is a hive of technology, arts, education, and entertainment.” – Susan Brozek Scott, Afterschool Buddy, Inc.

“We’re here to connect with people in the Pittsburgh region, to connect our work in Haiti with work that’s going on here in Pittsburgh. It gives us a lot of hope, because [emerging technology] is not just in the wealthy schools now; it’s happening all over.” – Ally McMutrie, Haitan Families First

“We’re in the classroom, so we get stuck in those four walls…TransformEd is something we definitely want to take our colleagues to, just to let them have the opportunity to see the different technologies are out there, because we’re the frontline for that in our school.” – Dave Thomas, fourth grade teacher at Avonworth Elementary in the North Hills

“Without this, there’s not really a way to connect. Everyone gets bogged down by their regular day and the hectic lives that everyone has in their district, so this is a great way to network.” – Kara Eckert, assistant to the superintendent in Shaler School District

“It’s amazing how Pittsburgh is joining in the national conversation on how to shape learning, not just now but in the future.”- Tom Washington, superintendent of Penn Hills School District

On Collaboration:

“The goal is to get different disciplines in the industry to start talking to each other and make bigger impacts, because innovation really comes out of having lots of different perspectives at the table.” Anna Roberts, director of Working Examples Project

“It’s so great to see so many people who are caring about the same things and committed to really making a connected community in Pittsburgh.” – Erika Johnson, executive director of the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse

“Engagement for students across all socioeconomic levels and a customized learning environment for each child is the way to go.” – Fran Serenka, director of special education and student services in Montour

“Being from a nonprofit, we’re always looking for opportunities, resources, possible funding streams, but mainly we’re always looking for resources and opportunities for the students we work with every day.” – Gina Barrett, The Consortium for Public Education

“I’m here to learn more about some of the organizations we already partner with and to look for new ideas about partnership.” – Lisa Dennis, coordinator at Children’s Collections at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

 

On the Role of Technology in Education:

“Technology is a means to an end for kids to become engaged in their learning, their communities, each other, and their culture.” – Jessica Pachuta, project manager at the CREATE Lab; manager of the Hear Me Project

“We’re just trying to find ways to use technology more to meet the needs of our kids. Right now, they’re beyond us, so what we’re trying to do is really keep up and find a way to engage. So for me, this is kind of like a brainstorming session. The next step is going back, sharing with our teachers, and finding out ways that we can put it into action.”- Dan Como, principal at a Middle School in West Jefferson School District

“We wanted to see some emerging technologies and innovative things that we could be doing moving forward. I’m most interested in apps and some of these more accessible technologies.” – Brad Wilson, seventh grade teacher in Upper St. Clair School District

“We do a lot of programs where we bring in teachers. Sometimes what they want to know is how to set up their own fab lab, but that starts with having an understanding of the processes, materials and the machines that you need or maybe that you don’t need for your school, and also getting a good sense of the projects you can do, for example, with a 3D printer—the kind of projects you can do that just don’t impress the kids but get them to think about ‘what does this mean in my world?’” – Dan Woods, chief operating officer of the Tech Shop

“I’m part of a pilot program at my district for 21st century learning, where we have a 1-to-1 iPad initiative. This [event] validates that we need to continue pushing forward with creativity.” – Matt Henderson, fifth grade teacher from Upper St. Clair

“It’s important we’re teaching with technology, and not just that technology is a class to take.” – Jen Neiss, second grade teacher at Avonworth Elementary

“So many of our districts are craving new technology and innovative ideas in the classrooms, so we’re here to represent them and help them move forward.” – Denise Decheck, program director for Waterfront Learning at AIU