In a previous post, we introduced our blog readers to the 3D Jedi Knight, Jeff Epps. This post is a continuation of his story, more than a year later.
North Carolina's 3D Educator
Jeff Epps, the Director of Information Technology for North Carolina’s Richmond County Schools, has recently formed the G.R.E.A.T. (Globally Ready Engineering and Technology) 3-D Academy. His solution is effectively simple: take on any students who have the interest and aptitude for learning 3-D; connect those students with both a relevant context for learning and supportive classroom teachers; and then leverage that interest to enable students to reach higher levels of performance in science and math.
“You bring us any students that have the willingness to learn how to design 3D content, regardless of their academic challenges, and we can help get them to new levels of math and science, “ he states “—we can turn them into engineers and designers.” One student, Ben Dibble, serves as a clear instance of Epps remarkable vision.
Richmond Early College High
Ben, currently a student at Richmond Early College High, describes his motivation in wanting to make 3D artifacts “to help teachers make students understand concepts better—and I found when I did make things for the teachers, I understood the concept better when I finished also.”
Happily, Epps’ 3D dream is an opportunity open to all children, not just the usual suspects. He observes:
“I felt there were a lot of students that were getting overlooked in terms of talent. There are students that may not be academically talented, but are very well rounded with technology. I thought about launching a program that’s inclusive and not exclusive of students. We are reaching out to females, children of color, and special needs students. One of our top graduates has been accepted to the Art Institute in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has Asperger’s syndrome--and yet he was the best 3D modeler in our district.”
Epps believes that “anybody can learn higher levels of math and science if they just want to. That’s why this technology needs be accessible to all.”
In our next post, we’ll take a closer look at exactly how Epps’ impressive project builds academic and technical skills through relevant, contextual, and authentic learning.