Guest Post by Regan Clyburn

When I was looking into starting graduate school I stumbled upon the T.E.C.H Playground and had such a curiosity about it. I saw the 3D printer, flight simulator, Xbox, and the SMART table among other things and was so excited to be able to use/learn/play with all the gadgets available. As my first semester started and I received my first opportunity to get into the T.E.C.H. Playground and actually use some of the devices, I did not know what to expect. I started to use the 3D printer and was a little overwhelmed with the process. Part of it was fear of the unknown and knowing the price tag associated with the printer. Luckily Toby Brown swept into save me and my first 3D printing adventure. I had no idea what to expect with the 3D printing process and once it was on its way I felt like a little kid in a candy store watching my favorite candy being made! My biggest learning curve by far was how long the process took, at first I was a little upset with how long it was going to take, but then I realized it gave me the perfect opportunity to explore!

While I fiddled around the area of awhile I noticed that the playground was truly set up for people to jump in and explore. Technology is usually reserved for people that know how to work it already or under strict supervision. I was impressed with the instructions next to the particular machines that were written in a way that made me want to jump in and try! I am an 8th grade American History teacher and it made me think about my own classroom. Does my room invite students to pick up and look at my replicas or do they get the feeling they must keep their hands off and only look with their eyes. Probably the latter of the two, but why? Yes replicas can be expensive, but in most cases they are replaceable so why do we tell kids to leave stuff alone and not to touch it. If a university can make a room with extremely expensive equipment seem inviting then why can’t my classroom!

I was also shocked at how open people were as soon as they walked through the “threshold” of the T.E.C.H. Playground. I saw interaction between student peers and professors that I feel was more genuine and open than other places on campus. I never saw interaction like this anywhere else on campus, people that didn’t know each other were offering help on projects, almost leaping for the opportunity. I was so blown away by the playground atmosphere and hope that it can be duplicated in more places than just the T.E.C.H Playground, because man, they are missing out.

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