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QTL for IT Educators > News > Article Summaries > Current Article

Students share 'case modding' secrets at Conference

July 30, 2005

Students from Jacksonville High wowed an adult crowd at this year's Summer Conference in Greensboro.

Jacksonville teacher Linda Griffin offered a presentation on giving students unconventional hands-on opportunities. Her students have had a real variety.

Jacksonville High students Tyler Mann and Jared Plumley show conference attendees one of their 'case mod' creations.

During 2004-05, Griffin and fellow Onslow County teacher Ken Brown obtained a Bright Ideas grant. They bought software and equipment that allowed students to create short videos of tech topics. After getting their feet wet with the technology last school year, Griffin plans to continue this year by creating clips that offer overviews of each objective in the Computer Engineering blueprint. She promises to share what her students create with other teachers via QTL's FTP site.

The video clips, introduced by student Chuck Emerson, got a very positive reaction from teachers attending the session, but it was another student achievement that really turned heads.

Tyler Mann and Jared Plumley showed how they have learned to create customized PC cases that give computers a strong shot of personality. They paint cases, cut imaginative or whimsical shapes out of the sides, even use lighting to highlight the inner workings of the machine.

They got into the work so much that they started their own business, a venture they'll continue even though Tyler is headed off to Western Carolina University this year. They even created a short video clip about the process (download it here).

Both say they've learned much from the Computer Engineering course and the hands-on experience Griffin has provided.

"I was into computers before, but didn't know all the technology behind them. And I wanted to," says Plumley, who says his next goal is to earn his A+ certification.

"Before Computer Engineering I wasn't computer literate," says Mann. "Now I'm a huge computer geek - modifying hardware and software. I can do things I never would've done before."

The experience has impacted the students in other ways. Griffin says Mann in particular has matured immeasurably, from a mischievous underclassman who sometimes disrupted class to an entrepreneur and college-ready graduate who can stand in front of a group of teachers and talk about starting his own business.

There has also been a huge impact on enrollment in the course.

"These guys are responsible for Jacksonville High having about 300 kids sign up for Computer Engineering Technology next year," Griffin says. "We're having to cull them out."

Steve Hampton of Swain County demonstrates Linux tricks - on a Mac!

That session was one of ten offered especially for Computer Engineering and Networking teachers during the conference at Greensboro's Koury Convention Center. Others focused on topics such as Disaster Recovery (two well-attended sessions led by Charles Thorne of Williamston High) and student certification (a very informative session co-hosted by North Rowan High teacher Sandra Martin, Rowan -Salisbury CTE Director Eric Leazer, NCDPI consultant Steven Miller). Aaron Bishop from Brevard College offered a helpful presentation on troubleshooting PC problems.

One of the most enthusiastic presenters was Steve Hampton of Swain County. Hampton - a proud Mac user who makes no bones about his admiration for Tiger OS - showed an amazing Linux-based lab configuration he's put together in his Bryson City classroom. He and students worked this spring to put together Quad Boot systems that will boot Win 98, Win 2000, Win XP and Fedora Core 3 (k12ltsp 4.2).

"I am really excited about what the kids and I have been able to accomplish," he says. Other teachers seemed excited, too - several stayed in their seats to hear more during a 'round table' session led by Hampton and Orange High School teacher Greg Thoyre.

For more information, contact Robin Fred via e-mail at or call him at 888.507.3800.

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