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FALL 2016











By Spencer Watson

Learn how you can get EAST in your school!




Sponsors make Conference everything students deserve. Get involved today!

Meet our Communications Manager, Spencer Watson.


Springdale students aim to improve school bus safety.


A quiet program to acknowledge exceptional individuals hits a milestone.

Here are just a few reminders to know about to get ready for Conference.



EAST is honored as an innovator in education by Silicon Valley.



The NLRMS students create a virtual, explorable school map for first responders.


See highlights from EAST Night Out, Dogtown Derby, Encounter EAST and more!











Here is a new way of seeing a nifty tool!

Upcoming events for December, January and February.

Buy new gear we have in stock so that you can look awesome.

Thank you to all who sponsor and partner with EAST!

Here’s a little insight into what the staff of EAST is really like.




EQ WELCOME TO THE NEWEST EQ! We sure hope you like it. You know, putting this issue together, I was struck by this idea that the future really is what we make it. And I don’t mean we’re all imbued with the reality-altering powers of a Neo in The Matrix. No, I mean our decisions shape things in real and powerful ways, and I see that all the time in EAST.


6215 Ranch Dr. Little Rock, AR 72223 501.371.5016 MAGAZINE TEAM Editor - Spencer Watson Designer - Dave Lewis CONTRIBUTORS Matt Dozier Marisa Damm

For instance, consider the North Little Rock Middle School students you will read about later in this issue. They’re literally making their own (virtual) reality, but in doing so are possibly saving lives in the here and now. Ditto for the Sonora Elementary students, also featured, who saw a problem and said, “We know what can fix this.” All that’s left is the doing.

PHOTOGRAPHY Spencer Watson Dave Lewis

Perhaps that’s why EAST recently caught the attention of some very smart, very creative people in this place called Silicon Valley. You might sometimes hear people in Arkansas talk about the place like it’s an alternate reality, but the truth is, the people that live and work there are very much in touch with the idea of building the future they want to be a part of. In EAST, we can relate.

PRINTING/PUBLISHING Printed by Allegra Print & Imaging of Arkansas, Inc. Published digitally through Issuu at:

Hey, even I can relate personally. As a former news reporter, I live by the maxim “don’t be the story.” So it’s with some discomfort of the spotlight that I submit the details of my long journey to EAST, and you can read about that in this issue, too. You’ll see a certain theme of setting a goal and being determined (and lucky) enough to see it through. No fate but what we make, as they say. Too philosophical? Perhaps. It’s been a long few weeks. But you hold in your hands the product of that labor, and certainly we think it offers stories worth telling. After all, their impact will be our tomorrow. Here’s to seeing it take shape!

COVER Dave Lewis

Disclaimer The publisher cannot accept responsibility for any unsolicited materials lost or damaged in the post. All text and layout is the copyright of the EAST Initiative. Nothing in this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the copyright holder. All copyrights are recognized and used specifically for the purpose of criticism and review.

Spencer Watson

Editor EAST Quarterly

Questions or feedback?





EAST is an educational model that emphasizes opportunity. All learners, when presented with the right tools, can achieve. The nature of those tools and subsequent achievement may be unique to the individual, but the opportunity of EAST remains the same: empowerment.


The EAST Initiative is an educational nonprofit organization that provides all learners the opportunity to have relevant, individualized, life-changing educational experiences. In the classroom, EAST supplies students with the latest in sophisticated hardware and software tools and challenges them to apply this cutting-edge technology in identifying and solving problems and improving the communities in which they live. Students engage with community partners and master the tools of tomorrow’s tech-driven workforce, all while pursuing their own interests as they develop and complete service projects. Meanwhile, they also develop collaborative, team-oriented skills of project management and delivery. In addition to establishing these unique classrooms and offering technical support, the EAST Initiative also offers powerful technology training both to students and educators, including providing professional development focusing on integrating technology into any classroom, regardless of subject.


Classroom teachers can learn about technology integration through Education Unleashed, a professional development series offered by the EAST Initiative in which best practices developed over the course of 20 years are applied to traditional classrooms, regardless of location or subject. To learn more, visit Administrators interested in establishing an EAST classroom should contact to begin the recruitment process. Arkansas schools may be eligible for a grant through the Arkansas Department of Education. This process requires attending a Vision Building workshop. The next opportunity to do so is Dec. 13, 2016, at the EAST Initiative offices in Little Rock. To learn more and see EAST in action, visit


@EASTinitiative FALL 2016 | EAST QUARTERLY



EXAMPLES Exclusive list of EXTRAORDINARY STUDENTS reaches milestone

BY MATT DOZIER n 2009 we quietly started a special program to recognize outstanding EAST students who might not necessarily get recognized in very public ways. We call them Exemplars, and the recognition is pretty straightforward. Exemplar is a 10-cent word that means “a person serving as an excellent model.” So, when a staff member or member of EAST’s Board of Directors sees an outstanding EAST student out in the field — in school or at a public presentation — they take them aside and present them with a special coin to acknowledge the great job they are doing. We think it’s a nice way to show our appreciation to students who are modeling the very best of EAST in the real world. The times I’ve been privileged to recognize an Exemplar I have told them, “This is a small token of appreciation and a tradition we started a few years back. As an old English teacher, I’m going to ask you to look up the word ‘exemplar’ because you are one. I’m also going to tell you that I want you to hold on to this, and every time you see it I want you to remember that you im4


pressed a lot of people today, and I can’t wait to see where you go from here.” I’m always delighted by this little exchange because of the reaction I see in students. Invariably they respond with a mixture of confusion (“what is going on here, exactly?”), pride (“I know I did something special”), and excitement (“this is pretty cool!”). Not only do I get this reaction, but I’ve witnessed it from across the room seeing one of these rare coins being awarded. Like I said, it’s a quiet, special kind of thing that makes for a very good day. This is not an everyday occurrence, though. Students must set themselves apart in order to earn this recognition, and that’s a challenge when there are so many impressive students in EAST. Becoming an Exemplar means clearing a high bar, which is why we only recently handed out the 100th coin. That means that, in the last seven years, we’ve awarded fewer than 15 each year on average among thousands of EAST students. Many of our Exemplars have gone

on to college or the workforce. Some of those we’ve kept up with through the EAST Alumni Association; others have yet to let us know where they’ve landed. And of course, a few are still working their way toward high school graduation. Regardless, they all share one special thing in common: on the day they received their Exemplar coin, they were one of the best students in the world, not just in EAST. They deserve congratulations, so you’ll find all of them listed on the facing page. Now, given the fact that we’ve been at this for years and dozens of people have been involved in awarding and recording Exemplar recognitions, there’s a chance we may have missed some of these outstanding students. That would be a shame. So, if that’s happened, we want to correct it. If you know a name that should be on this list but isn’t, please let me know. If you have stories to share about some of these very special students, please share those with me, too. We love this tradition and look forward to meeting the next hundred EAST Exemplars. n

EXEMPLARS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

Ethan Able Avery Alpe Kellie Armstrong Henry Beard III Sam Bennett John Berkshire Eric Beza Audrye Blankenship Sawyer Boone Seth Britney Tayler Broach Joey Brodnax Carter Brown John Caldwell Riley Carraway Trenton Cason Madeleine Chrisman Logan Clairborne Caitlin Cothern Chase Cray Whitney Crouch Savi Davidson Lacy Diston Lucas Dorrough Sara Earnhart Tyler Elmore Filaberto Escamilla Jake Flood Asher Franke Mackenzie Frederick Anslynn Garner Abby Gates Lola George Sean Gilden Kaley Harlson Kaylyn Harrison David Harrison Anna Heringer Kennedy Hill Noah Holt Hailie Jackson Darius Jarrett Daniel Johnson Kate Jones Tyler Jones Blane Keen Austin Kelley Kassandra King Kye Kocher DeLena Lattimore

Hot Springs Intermediate School Wilson Intermediate School (Malvern) Cross County High School North Pulaski High School Mann Magnet Middle School Bryant High School Bryant High School Kiamichi Technology Centers - Talihina North Little Rock High School East Campus Vilonia High School Wickes High School White Hall High School Russellville High School Arkadelphia High School Batesville Middle School Greenwood High School Ozark Middle School Beebe Jr. High School Annie Camp Jr. High (Jonesboro) North Little Rock High School - East Campus Ozark Middle School Harrison Jr. High School Greenbrier High School Dardanelle High School Greenwood High School Jacksonville Middle School Monticello High School Batesville Middle School The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Robinson Middle School (Pulaski County School District) Greenwood High School Clinton High School MacArthur Middle School (Jonesboro) Vilonia High School Harrisburg High School Dumas High School Fountain Lake High School Batesville High School MacArthur Middle School (Jonesboro) North Little Rock High School- East Campus Bald Knob Schools Bryant High School Sylvan Hills High School MacArthur Middle School (Jonesboro) Jacksonville Middle School North Little Rock High School - East Campus Malvern Jr. High School Ozark Middle School Harrisburg Middle School North Little Rock High School - East Campus

2016 2011 2012 2010 2009 2013 2013 2011 2011 2012 2009 2012 2009 2012 2011 2013 2011 2011 2010 2013 2011 2016 2010 2011 2013 2012 2010 2011 2015 2015 2011 2009 2012 2012 2009 2009 2011 2013 2012 2013 2013 2013 2009 2012 2013 2013 2011 2011 2015 2013

51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100

Jessica Lavin Michael Leiterman Kristin Long Mackenzie Mallett Aaron Maxey Christina McAllister Kylie Miller Remington Miller Shanoa Miller CJ Morgan Kaliah Morton Hayden Nix Aaron Osborn Ann Paul Parker Payne Elea Pulliam Elmore Quist Rodrigo Ramirez Nathan Rappold Erin Richards Chase Robinson Sierra Rohauer Kelsey Rood Jessica Roy Brenden Ryan Zainab Shah Caleb Shatser Gabrielle Sisk Alyssa Smith Brenna Smith Brandon Stephenson Micah Thomas Christopher Toller Kristen Torres Rikki Vaughn Kevin Walker Jordan Washburn Elizabeth Washington Emily Watkins Imani Watson Leann Westbrook Clayton Weyl Frednesha Whiting Spencer Whitley Layne Wilson Kaitlyn Witt Kaitlyn Woodward Krista Woodward Katie Wright Amma Yates

Har-Ber High School (Springdale) Forrest Heights Middle School Harrisburg High School Greenbrier High School Sylvan Hills High School North Little Rock High School - West Campus Sonora Elementary Robinson High School (Pulaski County School District) The University of Arkansas at Little Rock Dumas High School North Little Rock High School - West Campus Rison High School Northeast Technology Center - Claremore Malvern High School Beebe Middle School MacArthur Middle School Bauxite Schools Dumas High School Vilonia High School Vilonia High School Greenbrier High School Beebe Middle School Malvern Jr. High England High School Vilonia High School Brinkley MIddle School North Little Rock High School Ozark Middle School College Hill IB Elementary (Texarkana) Fordyce High School Kiamichi Technology Centers - Talihina Russellville High School Clinton High School Bald Knob Schools Sonora Elementary Conway High School Conway High School Brinkley Middle School Beebe Jr. High School Brinkley High School Blevins High School Prairie Grove Middle School North Little Rock High School - West Campus Centerpointe High School Robinson Middle School (Pulaski County School District) Conway High School North Little Rock High School - East Campus Bryant High School Clinton High School Robinson Middle School (Pulaski County School District)


2009 2011 2010 2010 2009 2013 2014 2014 2010 2009 2013 2010 2011 2012 2011 2012 2012 2009 2012 2012 2016 2011 2011 2012 2012 2014 2012 2011 2009 2016 2013 2009 2016 2013 2014 2013 2013 2014 2011 2014 2011 2013 2013 2009 2015 2013 2011 2013 2016 2015



STUDENTS! Haven’t seen the EAST Conference 2017 website yet? It’s the place to stay up-to-date on all Conference news and information. You’ll also find some guidance on booth design, breakout session information, dress code and MUCH more. You can also watch Conference Clips through this site — even if YouTube is blocked at your school — for more useful information, whether it’s your first time going or your fifth. March may seem like months away (because, well, it is), but it will be here before you know it! There are a lot of deadlines between now and then. Waiting until February could be heartbreaking. A full list of upcoming deadlines in December, January and February is included online and updated as new opportunities are announced. Check out today — and we can’t wait to see you in March!




he EAST Conference is an opportunity to gather the entire Initiative together in one place and celebrate the incredible work that has been done by thousands of students throughout the school year. However, Conference can’t happen without the support of those who see value in the innovation, civic participation and engagement of EAST students. Sponsorships are available for as little as $500. Your support assures that Conference is the exciting, yearending, highlight-making celebration students so richly deserve. It also allows your organization to reach an audience of thousands of astute, eager and enthusiastic members of the EAST family, including students, parents, educators and administrators. To find a sponsorship that matches your organization’s outreach goals, feel free to take a look at the 2017 Sponsorship Opportunities brochure available online at or contact James Hopper, development coordinator, at (501) 371-5016 or Working together, we can make sure that this event is the start of some amazing futures for our students and your organization! n FALL 2016 | EAST QUARTERLY






ver the last several months, a team of eighthgrade students with EAST at North Little Rock Middle School have started looking at their school in a different way — from behind a handful of different scanners, which they’ve been using to construct a fully realized, virtual 3D model of their school. “We were in a big class session one day last year at Conference brainstorming different projects that we could start, and I asked about a 3D model. Our facilitator Ms. [Shelly] Jones mentioned to me that a classmate, Scotty [Jolly], had been thinking about doing something along the same lines,” said Sarah Cate Lay, part of the project team. “That’s when I think we really started to talk about it and lay out a plan.” For his part, Scotty said the kernel of the idea came from seeing an interactive sandbox that used projection mapping and an XBox Kinect. “I was looking into what all you can do with the Kinect, and I saw that we could use it for 3D scanning, so we did that,” he said. “It wasn’t the best thing.” 8


The problem, the group said, was that the initial plan to scan the school using a Kinect was limited. First, they only had one. Second, it was a meticulous process. “We had a Kinect sensor and a bunch of cameras we were using, and Scotty would use a program to put them together. But they were flat images, and it wasn’t really 3D. It was just a flat, circular image of each room,” said team members Logan Magee, who explained that, to get a good scan, the Kinect often required better lighting than they had available. “We also had to have it connected to a computer, and that required an outlet. So we used a cart and pushed it around with all the equipment on it,” explained Scotty. “It was very slow and inefficient,” added Wilson Loibner, also part of the team. “One afternoon we came to the school and were planning on doing several rooms. We were here for about 2 hours, and I think we got one and a half rooms done.” The team found their answer last spring

in a Beyond the Bell grant from the EAST Initiative, which offers funding for projects undertaken outside of normal school hours. “We had to work really hard to get everything pulled together,” said Scotty, who explained they found the grant roughly a week before the deadline to apply. Writing it was a learning experience. “What I made the mistake of doing is, each time I found something new that could help, I added that in, and the price slowly built up. I rewrote grant after grant after grant adding all the new stuff instead of making one list and writing it all at the end.” Ultimately, with time running out, the team pared down their list to include an iPad Mini 2, attachable structure scanners, viewmasters for exploring the final model and an Oculus Rift and workstation to support it for exploring the map in full virtual reality. It has made the whole process much more viable, the team said. “We found something called Room Capture, which makes everything so much easier,” said Scotty. “A scan is a picture, just a flat image. But this app

automatically adds color and texture to the scans to make them appear 3D. And it works in lower light. It’s still sensitive, but it’s good enough that we can do it at almost any time.” The process, he said, is a team effort. “When someone scans a room, they email it to me,” he explained. “I use software to add textures if needed and also to make sure nothing got messed up in the scan. After I do all that, I export the scan to a program called Unity, which we use to put all the scans together into a complete model.” The end result, once the entire school is scanned, will be a virtual world that users can walk through digitally as though they were actually in the building. And just as the process of creating the model has evolved, so has its intended use. “At first we thought of it as helpful to new students, like finding their way through the school,” said Anna Cavnor, another team member. “Then

it’s a such large place. They thought it would be an amazing idea for us to map the school so that if anything were to happen — say there were a fire in the auditorium — they would know directly where to go and they’re not circling the building for 20 minutes when getting to the right place inside very quickly is important.” The students said the two grantfunded viewmasters will be given to the departments. Additionally, they learned that police officers actually have a tablet in their patrol cars that can pull up their model, too. While not

fully 3D, it would still give officers a chance to locate the area they’re looking for while en route and potentially save time and even lives. But future users will not be the only ones who learn from the model. The students say they’ve learned a lot, themselves. While the most challenging aspect of the project has been learning how to use the new technology, all said the project has given them a new appreciation for just how big their school is — and how many odd, out-of-the-way places it contains. “It seems so small because we’re in it every day. But when you’re going through it room by room, hallway by hallway, it’s huge!” said Anna. “The hard part about this project is getting all of the small rooms scanned,” said Scotty, as he pointed to doors in the EAST classroom. “For example, that closet there or that one over there. You have to scan everything about it.”

IF ANYTHING WERE TO HAPPEN — SAY THERE WERE A FIRE IN THE AUDITORIUM — THEY WOULD KNOW DIRECTLY WHERE TO GO AND THEY’RE NOT CIRCLING THE BUILDING FOR 20 MINUTES WHEN GETTING TO THE RIGHT PLACE INSIDE VERY QUICKLY IS IMPORTANT. we wanted to expand our horizons with the fire and police departments. So I emailed both the chief of police and the chief of the fire department. “We were told the only virtual model of a building in North Little Rock is Verizon Arena, and that it’s helpful because

Despite covering all the nooks and crannies, the team said the timeline for finishing the model is the end of the school year. For the time being, they’ve started with a labeled aerial map, built on drone images, which will be in the hands of first responders soon. “It has the buildings and names of the buildings” said Jones, the facilitator. “Coming up here can be so overwhelming, because we have the ‘lower gym’ and the ‘upper gym’ and all these slang names people use. With this they’ll have it all labeled with what people actually call it.” n FALL 2016 | EAST QUARTERLY


BY SPENCER WATSON Photos courtesy of Sonora Elementary School


school bus loaded with kids comes to a stop. Lights flashing, a sign slowly extends to bring traffic to a stop while students disembark. A reckless driver either doesn’t see the warning or simply ignores it and decides to pass the bus anyway. Students coming around from the other side have no idea of the danger they are in. This is a nightmare scenario with a high potential for tragedy. It’s also completely avoidable. And a duo of Springdale students from Sonora Elementary School hope to reduce the odds of it ever happening by pushing to install cameras on school bus stop arms. “My mom is actually the President of the state PTA. This summer they worked on a PSA about bus safety in the state,” said fourth-grader Rylee Gill. “After we watched the PSA and a few other videos, we kind of got freaked out about how dangerous people drive. There were images of people driving up on the side10


walk, just to get around a stopped bus. That was just scary.” Earlier this school year, she and partner Taten Scates started thinking about how they could address the problem. “We did a little research to see if this is an actual problem in Arkansas. The videos that we had watched were from places like Texas and California, so we wanted to make sure that the problem actually exists here, too,” said Taten. “We talked with our local bus department in Springdale, and they said they see over 70 bus stop arm violations a year, and those are just the ones they catch.” “We have seen an increase in stop arm violations statewide,” Rylee said of further research. “The problem is that bus drivers’ main job is to drive kids to and from school. But, when someone blows by their stop sign, it puts the kids in a dangerous situation. And it’s nearly impossible for the bus driver to keep an eye on the kids and also try to record the make and model of a

car, the description of the driver, and most importantly try to see the license plate number…especially if they are trying to read it through a mirror.” So the pair settled on the idea of installing cameras on the stop arms to do the recording work for bus drivers. “We’ve looked at four different security camera vendors, and the cameras we like are heavy-duty and weatherproof. They also work at night, during cloudy weather and in extreme cold. When the stop arm extends, there is a proximity control on the camera that records specifically cars and trucks. They told us it wouldn’t record dogs or squirrels passing by, just vehicles. The cameras record the date, time, GIS coordinates, and even snap pictures of the driver’s face and license plate number. The data is stored on the bus DVR system (luckily our buses already have these systems installed, so we just need the new cameras). Then when the bus returns to the bus lot, that data is sent to the transportation director.”

PROJECT PROFILE The transportation director, Taten explained, can then forward that information on to the police to follow up on violations. The Sonora students have already had conversations with all those parties. “We actually made our first presentation about this project to our school board and district administration in September,” said Taten. “They came to our school for an annual school luncheon and we let them know what our idea was. They were really excited about the idea of adding new cameras to the buses and had a lot of questions.”

“I think this will be the next big snag in the project. As far as I’m aware, there aren’t any districts advertising on their buses just yet. This will be something brand new to the district and to the state. Also, I’m not wanting the kids to go out and sell ads for school buses door to door; it’s just not practical or safe. So we’ve discussed with Mr. Samples about hiring an outside marketing firm to take care of the advertisements

“I’m curious to see how the kids will have a hand in developing this official policy with the board. I think that’s the make or break point for the project; if the board puts something official together with the kids’ help.” If all goes well, the students hope to see as many as a third of the district buses outfitted with cameras this school year and another third next year. In the meantime, the students have already helped by providing some insight to the district transportation department.

“My mom [Keli Gill] has been a good client to work with. The State PTA has shared all of our presentations through their Facebook page and really want to be able to spread our project statewide if it ends up working,” said Rylee. “Our transportation director is Dana Samples; he’s really been a lot of help to us because he knows about the laws and details of transportation. He also sent us in a new direction by contacting Steve Helms, who is the lead investigator for the Springdale City Attorney. He’s the guy that makes sure the violators are prosecuted.

“We’re already working with Mr. Samples and Mr. Helms with our GIS maps that we’ve created,” said Taten. “We’ve taken all of the stop arm violations in the city for the last year and have mapped them using ArcGIS Online. We’re now taking additional data all the way back from 2009 and placing it into our map. We can see trends of where most violations happen and these will be the routes that get stop arm cameras first. There are two intersections that are really a hot spot, so we want to make sure we have a plan to fix those areas especially.” It’s been a long process, and not always an easy one, but the students say they’ve definitely been learning — but not necessarily in the traditional way.

“What’s been really great for the kids is that they’ve had to contact people in all different areas,” said Josh Worthy, EAST facilitator at Sonora Elementary. “One day they are talking to a school board member, the next they are talking with a transportation technician, and then tomorrow they have a Google Hangout with a representative from the security camera company. They’ve been all over the place.” And that broad support is needed. The cameras themselves are expensive, and getting them will take a group effort. The students think they have a solution in a new state law that allows school districts to place advertisements on the back of school buses. Revenue from those could pay for the cameras, they said. But it still won’t be easy.

up the district’s official policy when it comes to advertising.

“This project is unique for us, because instead of using the tool to help solve the problem, we’re trying to bring the tool to the people,” said Rylee. “Like, the cameras are expensive and the community needs them. Being able to bring that type of technology to the community is way different than what we’ve done before.”

and signage, especially since the state is very particular with the dimensions and quality of the signs,” said Worthy, who explained that his students will be working with the school board to draw

“To me, this just seems like something that has to happen,” said Taten. “This project could save some lives, I hope, and that’s not something you get to do in math or English. I feel like with this technology and with this project, we would be making an immediate impact in the community.” n FALL 2016 | EAST QUARTERLY





n November, the EAST Initiative became one of very few organizations ever — and the only one this year — outside of California to be named as a STEM Innovator by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation. That is to say, the work of the EAST Initiative and its hundreds of schools and thousands of students was recognized as an example of how to be cutting edge by a group of industry professionals who work in the very epicenter of innovation. It is, said EAST CEO and President Matt Dozier, a very humbling and extraordinary honor. 12


“This is an award that has grown from a small recognition of innovative programs specifically in the Silicon Valley area to a national recognition that is chosen in a blind evaluation by volunteer judges from companies including Apple and Google,” Dozier said. “In fact, the SVEF staff said that this year was the most competitive year they had ever seen.” EAST was supported in its recommendation for the award by references from the Office of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service Center on Com-

munity Philanthropy. Other honorees this year included the MK Level Playing Field Institute, the Girl Scouts of Northern California and the Abraham Lincoln High School Computer Science Program. All were invited to attend a banquet in their honor held in San Jose, California, on Nov. 9. Dozier attended the event along with EAST staff members James Hopper and Mary Forst, who serve as development coordinator and chief financial officer, respectively. Also in attendance were David Moody, chair of the EAST Board of Directors, and representatives of

the 2016 Founder ’s Awardwinning Harrison Junior High School: facilitator Mary Beth Hatch and students Grace Brandt and Caroline Cecil. Dozier said the California audience was very attentive to EAST’s ideas and impressed by its representation. “I was visiting with some of the guests at the reception and an executive at a technology company in the Valley, who, after hearing about EAST and our story, assured me that the work our students are doing is amazingly special,” Dozier said. “But after visiting with our students, he came up to me at the end of the banquet and told me, ‘Matt, I misspoke earlier, it’s not special, it’s extraordinary! And oh, so special. Please thank them again for me for everything they are doing and remind them that, when the time comes, we hope that we can talk to them about their career goals…’ What’s left unsaid is pretty darn cool, if you ask me.”

While the visit also included a visit to San Francisco’s Chinatown and a visit with other potential EAST partners, Dozier said the most important takeaway wasn’t a specific trophy or even the eel or jellyfish from the local cuisine. It was validation of some very important points.


“First, I think EAST can stand up to any other model anywhere as a way to approach learning that is innovative and powerful. I think all students, everywhere, should have the opportunity to do what EAST students do — to be innovative, themselves — every day,” he said. “Second, I think we’re fortunate to have a chance to share EAST with people who clearly know what success looks like. They look at EAST and see not only students building the future using STEM skills, but also civic commitment, exemplary teamwork, collaboration, problem-solving and communication skills. “Finally, for our students, it’s important to realize you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to build the future. We’re doing it right here, and everywhere EAST is happening. Opportunity is everywhere, and I am so thrilled to watch it blossom.” n

Speaking of pretty darn cool, the EAST delegation took the opportunity of being out west to spend some quality time in some techy endeavors. The group visited the Tech Museum of Innovation, or “the Tech,” as it’s known, to tour its immersive, hands-on exhibits. They also were treated to a personal tour of the Google campus. “I visited with one of their recruiters, and she assured me that EAST is helping to provide that STEM pipeline that they value so much,” Dozier said, though lamenting that he didn’t get to pick the day’s Doodle. “I came away realizing that when you step onto campus at the Googleplex you actually walk through a time machine and are living 3-18 months in the future.” FALL 2016 | EAST QUARTERLY



Communications manager was a fan before joining staff By EAST Staff


pencer Watson, who joined the EAST Initiative as its communications manager last summer, wanted to be in EAST for a long time. “I actually first heard about EAST when I was writing about a student for the local newspaper more than a decade ago,” he said. “I thought, ‘Wow, I wish I’d had that kind of opportunity in high school.’ Though, I guess if I had, I wouldn’t have ended up meeting that amazing student. So there’s that.” Watson is an Arkansas native, born in Little Rock and a graduate of Benton Public Schools. He attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and graduated with a degree in classical studies. “It’s basically Greek and Roman histo14


ry,” he said. “I tend to just say I graduated with a history degree, because no one knows what ‘classical studies’ means.” Surprisingly unable to find work translating Ancient Greek or Latin, he opted instead to act on a passion for writing and went into journalism. But he’d long had a fascination with movies, particularly special effects, and that’s where his experience and interest in EAST intersected. “I happened to come of age when movies transitioned from practical effects to computer effects. People forget how truly remarkable ‘90s movies like Jurassic Park were, how people were floored to see Tom Hanks shaking hands with JFK in Forrest Gump,” he said. “It was the right time to be learning about computer

effects, modeling and rendering. But my high school, though a great school, didn’t have those classes. And EAST was brand new and only in a handful of places when I was in high school.” Years later, in 2005, when he met and interviewed a graduating senior who’d spent years in EAST at what was then Oak Grove High School and had picked up a knack for creating 3D animations and models doing public service announcements, he was blown away that these skills were being taught at the high school level. “In the course of reporting that story I realized EAST wasn’t just this thing at Oak Grove; it was supported by a nonprofit organization that was spreading this way of teaching this amazing engage-

ment with technology, and it was based right here in Arkansas,” he said. “I decided then and there I was going to keep my eye on this organization. I talked about that story for years.” He would spend a decade working in community print news, first for the local weekly papers in Maumelle and North Little Rock, then for a weekly arts and entertainment magazine published by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette called Sync Weekly, where he specialized in covering food and local dining. Ultimately, he got to spend time combining his love of movies and writing doing film reviews. He left Sync to work briefly at an accounting firm specializing in nonprofit audits before joining the communications department at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2014. “I thought I’d probably stay with UAMS for a long time. It has a great team, and certainly it’s a busy environment and a world-class institution. Then I saw that EAST was hiring a communications manager. I’d spent so long talking up the organization that I’d jokingly been told they should pay me a stipend for public relations,” he said. “I wasn’t looking, but I had to apply.”

things would be different if I had,” he said. “But certainly EAST still had a huge impact on my career. I truly believe, whether you’re a student or a cranky old journalist turned PR guy, it offers an incredible opportunity. And I guess that’s a good thing, considering my job. I’m excited to have the chance to convince other people I’m right about it, too.” n

Here was a chance to write about incredible kids doing incredible things every day. Those are the kinds of stories I most love to tell. They get you right in the feels.

It actually wasn’t the first time Watson applied at the EAST Initiative. He’d originally sought a position when he’d left Sync in 2013. “I guess I finally convinced them I really wanted to be here,” he laughed. “Writing about food was a lot of fun. Hard news was much tougher, say when you were covering a house fire in which a family lost everything, including loved ones. But here was a chance to write about incredible kids doing incredible things every day. Those are the kinds of stories I most love to tell. They get you right in the feels.” After all, he said, it was literally that kind of story that introduced him to EAST and made him a fan way back in 2005. “Maybe I didn’t have the chance to take EAST in high school, and probably FALL 2016 | EAST QUARTERLY










TECH YEAH! A new way of seeing a nifty tool By Marisa Damm


apturing the world in 360 degrees can allow someone to virtually immerse themselves into a space and experience it from anywhere at any time, and that capacity can open up all kinds of innovative EAST project ideas. A new bit of technology making its way into EAST classrooms offers an accessible way of creating that engagement: the 360-degree camera. EAST first added a 360-degree camera into new classrooms last year. For 2016, we revised the make and model, and we’ve been very pleased with the new Ricoh Theta S. This camera is so smart that it is able to crop itself out of the photo for a more immersive experience. The 360 technology in these types of cameras is slowly being accepted by standard video playback software, and that’s made its use much easier. Facebook has begun supporting both photos and videos. YouTube also supports this technology natively. If you’re an EAST student, that means it’s easier for you to share your 360 footage with the world, because the general public doesn’t need anything special to view it. Depending on the device used to access the photos or video, a user can simply move their phone around to look at different angles or click and

drag if they’re on a computer. You can give them that fly-on-the-wall feel and really bring your project to life. Taking it one step further, photos or videos taken through a 360 camera can be viewed through the Oculus Rift, turning them into true virtual reality experiences that are pretty amazing! This might seem daunting, but classrooms are equipped to do it with some relatively easy steps, like wrapping the video around a sphere using the program Unity and exporting it in a format that is compatible with the Oculus. Online tutorials abound for programs like Unity. So, why is integrating this new technology important? To consider some applications, look no further than the project of North Little Rock Middle School covered elsewhere in this issue. While their capture methods were different, the idea remains the same. A virtual, 360-degree map of the school offers value to everyone from new students going through orientation to emergency first responders, who now have a tool that is much more valuable and visual than a plain floorplan. With 360-degree images of each room, responders will know details like closet placement and size in any given classroom before they even step foot inside. That visualization can be critical in certain emergency situations.

Also, consider how this technology can be used to document projects even when it’s not the focus of the project itself. For example, a student team working on a community garden could use 360-degree video to allow visitors or potential community partners to tour their garden via Facebook. Isn’t that a thousand times more powerful (and way cooler) than standard video? Finally, consider that the knowhow to use these tools will prove useful in future careers. Tourism is a huge industry, and many economic developers would likely pay well for a consultant who could showcase their revitalized downtown commercial district in full 3D video. Or consider a travel business that could sell vacation packages with tantalizing virtual tours of the vacation spots or unique historic sites they are encouraging their clients to visit. All it takes is some imagination to find an entrepreneurial opportunity just waiting on a person with the right knowledge base. Clearly, the 360-camera is much more than a fun toy. Thanks to growing accessibility to its dazzling output, it’s a powerful tool with any number of applications in EAST, from originating projects to documenting them. And knowing how to use it — and use it effectively — is just as powerful. n FALL 2016 | EAST QUARTERLY



DECEMBER 2016 Nov. 30th-Dec. 1st

1st 1st - 2nd 2nd 5th 5th-6th 6th


Phase III Build Your First iPhone App! Introduction to Geospatial Technology Adobe Lightroom Audio Production One-on-One Getting Started with Final Cut Pro X Adobe Premier

Little Rock Little Rock Fayetteville Little Rock Fayetteville Monticello Fayetteville

7th 7th-8th 9th 9th 13th 14th-15th 22nd-31st

Digital Photography Concepts Phase III Introducing 3ds Max Learn to 3D Print with NWA 3D Vision Building The Why of Where: Geospatialization EAST Offices Closed for Holiday

20th 20th 23rd 25th 25th-26th 30th

Introducing 3ds Max Fruity Loops Adobe Photoshop Networking/EAST Class Setup The Why of Where: GIS in Education 3D Design in Blender

Hope (SWAEC) Fayetteville Little Rock Little Rock Little Rock Little Rock

15th-16th 21st-22nd 23rd

Conference Leadership Team Retreat The Why of Where: GIS in Education Adobe InDesign

Little Rock Little Rock Little Rock

Little Rock Little Rock Little Rock Fayetteville Little Rock Little Rock

JANUARY 2017 1st 10th-11th 11th 12th 13th 17th-18th 17th-18th

Happy New Year! Why of Where: Bring Your Own Project Build Your First iPhone App! Audio Production Audio Production Introduction to Geospatial Technology Advanced DSLR Photography

Little Rock Fayetteville Little Rock Little Rock Little Rock Fayetteville

FEBRUARY 2017 1st 2nd 6th-7th 9th-10th

CSS and Applied Javascript Adobe Lightroom The Why of Where: Bring Your Own Project Giving Life to Your Game - Event Scripting in Unreal Engine

Little Rock Little Rock Little Rock Little Rock

For an up-to-date listing of EAST training, visit 20


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to all of our sponsors and supporters who help make EAST happen for students.




We asked the staff “With the year almost halfway over, what’s one thing you’ve seen that has gotten you really excited about EAST this year?”

Matt Dozier

President / Chief Executive Officer

Mary Forst

Chief Financial Officer

“Just ONE thing? The twinkle in the eyes of so many people making a difference. I’ve seen it in administrators starting new programs, in facilitators sparking that “eureka” moment, in alumni achieving incredible things, in EAST staff and Board members and of course in students who are embracing EAST. When you add it all up, it’s brighter than a clear night sky in autumn.”

“Hearing students discuss their projects is always an exciting time for me. I think about how I wish I could have had the same opportunities and how lucky our students are to be solving real world problems at such a young age.”

Tami Baker

Amy Bell

Program Coordinator

Program Coordinator

“I’m very excited about all of our new programs and the potential they hold for doing amazing things in and for their communities!”

“My son does cross country. He recently ran a cross country course at Sulphur Rock Elementary. The course was designed by an EAST student. The EAST class oversaw the completion of the course and consistently helps out with races. The school uses the course regularly too. It is a unique project that I have shared with many other facilitators and EAST students.”

Sam Byrd

Lori Canada

Technical Support Group Member

Program Coordinator

“After seeing a lot of thoughtful responses to the Golden Help Ticket preliminary entry question to qualify, I can’t wait to see how this year’s EAST Conference Technical Support Olympiad turns out.”

“The thing that excites me the most is the excitement and adventure I see in students’ eyes. The way they light up when they are telling me about their project or how they draw you in with their enthusiasm is great for our next generation.”

Reuben Canada

Toni Cook

Director of Information Technology “When talking to students about their EAST projects at a recent EAST Night Out, I talked with a few students about how they live-streamed various events, which really got me thinking (and really excited) about the live-streaming we will be doing at 2017 EAST Conference!”

Purchasing Coordinator “We are currently in the process of wrapping up our 2016-2017 procurement season. I have had the pleasure to meet several new students with some incredible ideas. The new facilitators I have met have equally blown me away with their ambition. Our new programs have me very excited to see what the rest of the year brings.”



Adam Crider Programmer

Marisa Damm

Lead Technical Support

“The innovative ideas that schools are coming up with for this year’s Conference theme are out of the box, and I look forward to seeing how they execute them.”

“I have met some amazing students that would potentially be great student leadership members for Conference. There was a potential speaker at the EAST Night Out I attended, and some potential tech team members during the new program installations. Those students have gotten me excited for Conference and working with the teams!”

Jessica Dunham

Doug Gusewelle

Events Manager

Technical Resource Specialist

“I’m excited about all of the competition entries that have been submitted (so far), and I can’t wait to see who takes home the big prizes at Conference. Less than four months to go!”

“EAST Night Out this year was the first one I have been to where students did formal project presentations. It was neat to see the techniques the students used to present. Some of them used Animoto to create very polished presentations. It was great to see students so excited about their projects.”

Rinda Hall

Phaedra Hawkins

Program Coordinator

Student Training Coordinator

“Visiting with programs on the road, here in the office during Student Technical Trainings, and special events like EAST Night Out, I am very excited to see the level of collaboration happening this year! Project sophistication levels are being raised through collaborative efforts between community members, programs and across state lines. I can’t wait to see the results at #EASTcon17!”

“During EAST Night Out at Clinton High School, students were working on great projects, such as working with the mayor to design and reopen an unused community recreation area, redesigning the high school cafeteria (due to growing student population), working with a company to design prosthetic legs for patients and much more. ”

Eric Holt

James Hopper

Internet Services Manager

Development Coordinator

“What I found exciting was the enthusiasm and dedication of the students that I met at eStem’s East Night Out. They weren’t just participating for a grade; you could tell that they really care about their projects and the positive change that they can create in their community.”

“As I am writing this, a group of EAST students is about to fly out to meet me in California to receive an award from the Silicon Valley Education Foundation...and I think after the foundation meets them tomorrow, they may even let us keep it. ”

Alicia Humbard

Lani Jennings-Hall

Program Coordinator “Kudos to Cedar Ridge High School for having a festive Conferencestyle EAST Night Out! Each booth was themed, and it was a fun atmosphere celebrating the future of their EAST program.”



Office/Event Coordinator

“I am really excited about all of the student leadership team applications, and I’m looking forward to seeing all of the kids at retreat and Conference!”

Cody Jones

Dave Lewis

Staff Accountant


“At Greenbrier High School one project I found interesting was a hologram. The student was using it for a presentation in another class. She said she wanted to step up her PowerPoint presentation. As someone that has endured many many PowerPoint presentations, I can appreciate this. ”

Jerry Prince

“It’s a joy to design and be a part of creating EQ. I get to read and see stories well before most people. It’s just amazing to see time and time again the problems that students are solving in their community. After visiting the North Little Rock Middle School students, I can’t wait to see how the virtual map of their campus helps their community for generations to come!”

Melanie Ridlon

Senior Director of Program Services

Senior Director of Operations

“Having been around the block a few times, I am encouraged by the enthusiasm from the number of students learning about EAST for the first time. The mix of emotions they express is most intriguing!”

Spencer Watson

Communications Manager “I saw a unique EAST Night Out in Jonesboro with a half dozen schools working together to bring their work to the community. Setting up in the mall, they had a huge center court full of displays, and moving around them was like an amazing EAST buffet full of great projects and ideas.”

“At Pottsville Junior High’s EAST Night Out, two bright young girls showed me the weekly newsletter that is managed by EAST students. In a nutshell, students launched a website with multiple layers to share news with their community. When I asked about number of viewers they quickly shared over 1,000+ per week. I thought that was remarkable.”


To view EQ online



@EASTinitiative FALL 2016 | EAST QUARTERLY

25 Fall 2016

Fall 2016 EQ  
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