Dacie Judd, left, and Ariana Garcia work on a stop-motion animation project using an iPod Touch after school Feb. 22 at Cedar Valley Elementary School. The students are part of a 22-member technology club called the Digi-Dolphins.
By Todd Martin
Special to the Daily Herald

Elementary school technology club members are pushing their digital know-how into classrooms and throughout their campus.

At Cedar Valley Elementary School in Killeen, campus instructional technologist Anna Adam is the go-to expert on all issues connected to technology.

Her passion for integrating technology into the classroom spawned a popular after-school club called the Digi-Dolphins and now the 22 fourth- and fifth-graders are spreading their knowledge.

They are also having a lot of fun.

“Kids are almost innately excited about technology,” Adam said as her students scrambled about to complete a scavenger hunt using iPod Touches and scanned bar codes.

“When you empower them, they bring what they know to their teachers, they spread it to their classmates and it integrates into the curriculum,” she said.

Working in groups of three, students moved to six stations led by clues they had to decipher using iPod Touches to scan bar codes. The clues included questions taken from TAKS tests.

During previous after-school sessions, the technology club members worked on stop motion animation projects, learning photography and filmmaking through iMovie.

They also completed music videos to accompany Cedar Valley’s annual TAKS rally, an elaborate staff talent show to fire up students prior to taking the state tests.

They made a video for a school awards ceremony, movies to go with PE activities and various classroom projects.

In addition, each student in the club is assigned to a class or office in the school where they provide technology assistance and document various special activities.

Adam dove into the technology club idea six years ago when she was at Willow Springs Elementary School in Killeen. She operated that club for three years before moving to Cedar Valley, where she has sponsored the Digi-Dolphins the past three years.

Students are so committed to the club, which requires an application process, that members rarely miss and take pride in wearing their special Digi-Dolphins ID badges like media passes. Dolphins is Cedar Valley’s mascot.

Fifth-grader Meghan Spear, Adam’s daughter, has experienced the technology club since kindergarten. She seems to understand the value of learning technology early.

“In the future, we will be technified,” Spear said. “It’s good to learn now. We can have Kindles and iPads at school. We read books on iPods.”

Fifth-grader Emma Bodisch has caught on to the excitement of technology, too.

“I like learning new things we wouldn’t learn if we weren’t in tech club,” Bodisch said. “It’s useful for our future. We’re in the technology age. It’s important to keep up so we can get a good job and it’s fun.”

She said her favorite projects involve shooting and editing video. “The whole school sees it and I say, ‘Hey, I did that.'”

“I like that we do all kinds of things with technology, not just one thing,” said fourth-grader Cami Bogdan, listing stop motion animation and a cartoon software called Animation-ish among her favorites.

“We do a lot of fun things,” fifth-grader Nicolas Feliciano said. “I can express my feelings and it’s educational,” he said, pointing out film projects on the water cycle and life cycle.

Several students said their classmates and parents go to them with computer and other technology questions they can usually help solve.

For their sponsor, the club goes beyond fun and even beyond the walls of Cedar Valley Elementary School.

“Most of them will have jobs that don’t exist now,” Adam said of her fourth- and fifth-graders. “When I was their age, my job didn’t exist and I didn’t aspire to it.”

Learning today’s technology tools and how to adapt to the rocket-pace of change, she said, would serve students for life.