Project-based learning flourishes with HP Sprout Lab

Kansas students use interactive computers with 3D scanning, dual displays to identify and solve problems collaboratively
By: | December 1, 2018

When a robot created in a Kansas STEM class broke earlier this year, students didn’t have to buy a new part or wait for one to arrive in the mail. They simply walked to their HP Sprout Pro and used the 3D scanner to create a CAD file. From this, they used a 3D printer to produce a replacement part.

“The Sprout is great for students to learn problem-solving techniques” says Casey Seyfert, principal of Beloit Jr./Sr. High School in north central Kansas. “Their attitude is ‘We can do this. We just have to figure out how.’ Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, they work until they get it.”

Transformative technology

Beloit won the HP Sprout Pro computers last spring as part of the DA Technology Transformation Contest.

The prize package included three HP Sprout Pro interactive desktop computer systems, a professional development package, and custom computer furniture from Spectrum Industries.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard that we won” says Jeff ‚ÄäTravis, superintendent of USD 273 Beloit. “We were all so excited, but the students are the ones who’ve taken these tools and run with them. With no restrictions on their thinking, they create things that are just phenomenal.”

Students teaching students

The computers arrived over the summer, and a two-day workshop was held for five teachers before school began in August. Those teachers are training their peers, who are eager to give their own students an opportunity to use the new technology, Seyfert says.

“The kids love to explore and find new ways to use the HP Sprout Pro computers,” says Josie Burke, business technology teacher for the high school. “Each student has their own strengths, so they’re teaching other kids what they know. It’s great for them to get involved in both teaching and learning.”

Computers come with a high-definition touch screen, three cameras, and a touch mat that supports 20 simultaneous touchpoints and doubles as a projected display. Students can scan documents or 3D objects and then manipulate them on either the monitor or touch mat—or both at the same time.

Developing soft skills

“With an HP Sprout Pro, students are in discovery mode” Seyfert says. “They come up with a question and then answer it. That fits into our project-based philosophy. And students are working together, gaining critical leadership and teamwork skills.”

The technology also provides for deeper learning and more out-of-the-box thinking, Seyfert says. “It’s amazing where kids will go with using an HP Sprout Pro, versus sitting at a desk listening to a lecture. Now, they’re not just learning concepts, they’re mastering them.”

Expanding across disciplines

Students started using the HP Sprout Pro computers for graphic arts projects, such as creating custom banners for local businesses, and STEM activities, such as drawing digital blueprints or building bridges to test engineering standards. Soon after, technology use spread to other subject areas.

Physical science students are using stop-motion animation to create digital examples of concepts, and world history learners are animating historic battles or creating 3D replicas of significant discoveries and inventions, such as the first airplane. Teachers can create instructional videos, and the computers’ dual-monitor capability means lectures can be recorded at the same time practice problems are presented.

The HP Sprout Lab has been such a hit, Travis says. District administrators are pursuing grant funding to buy more computers and ultimately get them into elementary classrooms.

“With HP Sprout Pro computers, students experience what they’re going to see in the future” Seyfert says. “And they will be a ahead of their peers because of this exposure in high school.”

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