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Spul’u’kwuks students win major technology prize

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 3:43 PST, Fri February 7, 2020

Being well versed in current affairs has earned students at Spul’u’kwuks Elementary a deserving honour.

Spul’u’kwuks has been named the most informed school in Canada as part of a Chatterhigh contest.

The prize is $27,000 worth of technology, including cameras and speakers that allow for video conferencing, an interactive digital whiteboard, and software for content creation and sharing. The items are from Cisco, Compugen, and Viewsonic.

This news comes after two teams of Spul’u’kwuks students attended a UBC “Let’s Talk Science” day that saw them compete against peers from other BC schools. One of these teams won first prize.

This success motivated a search for more opportunities for academic challenges outside the classroom. That’s when they found Chatterhigh.com. The website, started in BC, sends participating students 10 quiz questions per day. Teachers can compete in virtual challenges to collect points, donate to charities, and find out who has the “Most Informed” class.

For the Spul’u’kwuks class, this was an opportunity to build research skills—the website motivates students to research correct answers for double points rather than accepting an incorrect answer and moving on. Ultimately, the site also challenges students to think about their individual interests and potential career choices through a link to the Education Ministry.

When the class found out about the technology grand prize, they doubted they could win. But as they challenged and encouraged their fellow students, other classes at Spul’u’kwuks were inspired to join in the initiative. 

Parents and staff from the greater school community joined the efforts to help Spul’u’kwuks keep their lead. On the last day of the contest, Dec. 6, they found out they had won the grand prize.

Having competed against students from across Canada, many of whom were high schoolers, Spul’u’kwuks students were shocked.

On Feb. 6, the Viewsonic screen was presented to students, several of whom spoke at the assembly presentation. One student generated her own personal attributes through the Chatterhigh site, later learning what future jobs might be well-suited to her.

The screen allows video conferencing to other schools. The students in the winning class are very capable, says their teacher, but lack confidence when speaking in front of each other. 

“They worked really hard. We have such an incredible group of students at this school,” their teacher adds.

Through the new conferencing technology in their classroom, the students will be able to prepare questions on pre-assigned topics. They will then speak on those topics, which their teacher hopes will “help them to get rid of some of those jitters when speaking in front of their peers.”

“They’ll be able to use the board to create their own content. I’m hoping we’ll be able to use it to create videos or online projects. They can create, basically, interactive Powerpoints. It’s a very interactive way to get students engaged in creating projects.”

Half of their technology prize has yet to arrive: a microphone that feeds through the classroom’s ceiling and connects to a soundboard with a camera and speakers. Once this is installed, the students will be able to participate in large-scale video conferences.

Spul’u’kwuks opened in October 2000 and currently has 431 students, half of whom are English Language Learners. They are the only school in Richmond that schools in the summer, with one-month breaks in December, April, and August.

For more information on Chatterhigh’s services, visit their website.

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