Computer Engineering for middle school students
Jad Jadeja Summer Classes at the Dripping Springs Community Library
By Gary Zupancic
For a number of years, Jad Jadeja, the high school’s computer engineering advisor/teacher has been offering classes at the Dripping Springs Community Library over summer vacation. The enthusiasm he brings to this year’s summer classes in no different than in previous years.
The next scheduled summer computer class for those going into 4th,through 6th Grade, “Junior F1” will start run Monday through Thursday, July 15 through 17, from 1:00 - 4:00pm.
Using cardboard, the students will design, build and race a car that is propelled by pressured by pressurized air. Teaching the same principles of the high schools’ F1 teams that have won both national and international competitions, Jadeja keeps students interested, curious, thinking, and busy.
His approach and teaching style with the middle school students is more relaxed than the management of his high school overachievers. Having students all working on the same project at the same time is different than having the high school’s multiple projects going on at the same time.
“It’s a different program, I talk to them in a different way. Especially with terminology that they don’t understand. I use scenarios until the student understands...I’m more comforting rather than their leader.”
The June Robotics Class, like the upcoming July F1 class was relaxed and attended by a lot of young curious faces eager to get each step. Using a Raspberry Pi, a mini-mini computer, the students build a chassis with electrical components, with the Raspberry Pi as the motherboard. The students made them work.
“The Raspberry Pi is cheap, yet powerful. There have been several revisions but the cost has remained constant, $35,” Jadeja said. “There’s a lot of software for education, free software.”
Interest for the summer computer classes have always been popular with kids and Jadeja has enthusiastic helpers/computer engineers on hand to help kids individually, two high school students from his classes, Colton Rhodas and Collin Boes, and a mentor and volunteer Jerry Jackson from the community.
The interest in the class is across gender lines, with seven girls and sixteen boys. The confidence of all the students is constantly reinforced and there is not the usual classroom atmosphere of no talking. Students are engaged and constant technical knowledge is passed back and forth between students.
“If a student attends all four days, all four classes, the library will provide the hardware to do it. It’s free,” Jadeja said.
Class registration for the July 15, Junior F1 is going on now and is limited. This is a good opportunity to beat the summer doldrums and to keep the young minds learning during vacation. To register or for more information see the website dscl.org/summer-2019/summer-programs-2019/all-summer-programs .