Summer school is in session at a Ventura County school. But, what makes this class so unusual is that some teachers are the students, and some middle and high school students are the teachers. The students are showing a half dozen teachers how to use some custom made carts which are at the center of this unique educational effort.
They’re called “spark carts,” and contain a laptop which controls a special routing saw, and they can be programmed to make a wide range of things. To program them, it requires kids to use math, science, engineering, and their imaginations.
Alex Wolf is a Math and Science teacher at DeAnza Academy of Technology and the Arts in Ventura. About five years ago, he came up with the idea for the “Spark Cart.” After the original “Spark Cart” was built, it evolved with students working on their design, and construction.
In fact, students are the ones leading the expansion of this effort. Some of the programs graduates working with Wolf, their former teacher, to create a non-profit called StemBassadors. They raised the money to build four of the carts, and are now training teachers who will use them in other schools in the county.
The DeAnza Academy teacher and the students in the program say this effort to make learning fun hope this effort will open up math and science to other kids who aren’t connecting through traditional methods like textbooks.