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Spring 2017 QUARTERLY








SUM M E R SE M I N A R 2 0 1 7

EVERYONE THINKS TEACHERS GET THE SUMMER OFF. While we at the EAST Initiative know better, we aim to augment facilitators’ summertime professional development with a little fun during our Tech Camp and Summer Seminar. Hailed by previous participants as “the best PD available, bar none,” Seminar sessions aim to offer practical and usable tips, tools, skills and advice you can take back to your classroom to create success in the school year ahead. And Seminar as a whole includes activities to interact with colleagues and, yes, even relax a bit while school’s out. This year, we are Rockin’ the Capital by returning Summer Seminar to Little Rock, Arkansas. Bring the family, and join us!

Register @ http://EastInitiative.org/SummerSeminar2017

Questions? Email events@eaststaff.org











By Spencer Watson

Find out about upcoming deadlines for the EAST Upgrade grant.



16 Armorel High School students help others become more independent with 3D modeling.


Welcome to EAST’s sixteen new schools.

Virtual Reality expert Shauna Heller offers her take on VR in education.


JUST GETTING STARTED Quick success doesn’t slow down 2017 Founder’s Award winners.


Fun project at Harrisburg High School yields music bench with a yet-to-bediscovered purpose.


Westside High School reveals how they came up with their Best-of-Tech award-winning booth design.


EAST is thankful for your support through ArkansasGives.




Visiting with the EAST Board of Directors, introducing sponsors to our schools and much more!











All the information on projection mapping at Conference.

Upcoming events for June, July and August.

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.





It’s the end of another school year, and once again I sit stupefied by the awesome work I’ve seen from EAST students this year. I’m not surprised, exactly. I learned a long time ago not to underestimate those who participate in EAST. That’s literally why I work here. But the results always leave me somewhere well beyond impressed. For instance, take Buffalo Island Central High School (BIC) and its tiny population of 170 students up in the corner of Northeast Arkansas. Confronted with a room full of technology and this wild idea that they can change the world — something most students don’t hear often enough — they go and win the highest acclaim EAST can hand out, our Founder’s Award, after only three years in existence. And then what do they do? They commit to working harder than ever. But BIC isn’t alone in being a small school in Northeast Arkansas doing incredible things. Armorel High School (a Founder’s finalist that took home honors for its project sophistication) won this year’s National Service Project award for creating a program of life lessons in virtual environments that exemplify how virtual reality can be a valuable tool in education. Learning happens not just for students putting on a headset, but those creating content for it as well. Speaking of VR in education, EAST recently had a chance to speak to an expert in the field, Shauna Heller of Clay Park VR in Palo Alto, California, and get her take on where things stand and where they’re going. She also had an assessment of EAST’s approach to this brave new world. Be sure to check it out. Of course, engaging with technology and transforming communities, while serious work, can also sometimes be just plain fun. Meet a Harrisburg senior whose project epitomizes a more carefree (but no less legitimate) approach to lessons in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Toss in some insight into the creative process of integrating technology and design in creating an EAST Conference booth and a behind-the-scenes look at the stage productions at this year’s Conference, and you’ve got a busy issue to conclude a busy year.


6215 Ranch Dr. Little Rock, AR 72223 501.371.5016 www.eastinitiative.org MAGAZINE TEAM Editor - Spencer Watson Designer - Diana Denning CONTRIBUTORS Doug Gusewelle PHOTOGRAPHY Spencer Watson COVER PHOTO Lena Rocole PRINTING/PUBLISHING Printed by Allegra Print & Imaging of Arkansas, Inc. Published digitally through Issuu at: issuu.com/eastquarterly 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.

Now it’s time to get started thinking about the next one. Spencer Watson

Editor EAST Quarterly


EAST QUARTERLY | www.EASTinitiative.org

Questions or feedback?



Does your classroom need a new 3D printer or 360 camera? How about faster computers or more tablets?

Each summer the EAST Initiative and Arkansas Department of Education offer a limited number of matching grants for established Arkansas programs looking to buy new classroom technology. These Upgrade grants will match a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $5,000 per school. To be eligible this year, a program must have been established during or before the 2013-2014 school year and must not have received an Upgrade grant for the past four years. Participation and involvement in certain EAST events is also required. A full checklist is available with the grant application. To apply, EAST facilitators should download the grant application at eastinitiative.org. Look for “Grants” under “News and Opportunities.” The completed application must be uploaded by 5 p.m. June 30. Applications will be reviewed and award recipients notified and announced on or before Sept. 11.

Good luck, and happy upgrading!





YOU for your


On April 6, the EAST Initiative joined nonprofits throughout Arkansas in participating in ArkansasGives. This annual event invites donors to support local nonprofit organizations with the promise of bonus and matching funds provided by the Arkansas Community Foundation.


to all our donors for your generous support

Thanks to the generous giving of many individuals, the EAST Initiative received nearly $4,000 in donations during the course of the day. This money will be augmented by matching funds and exclusively used to offer technology grants for EAST schools, such as Upgrade grants. Through their generous giving, EAST’s supporters are directly helping to provide more opportunities for more students, who will in turn use technology to make the communities they live in better places to be.

Remember, just because ArkansasGives has concluded doesn’t mean you can’t continue to help.

Just shop Amazon as you normally do, and use the Amazon Smile program. By associating your account with Smile, a portion of each purchase goes to EAST with no additional cost to the shopper. Just visit tinyurl.com/EASTsmile.

You can always contribute to the EAST Initiative anytime through supportEAST.org


SWEETsixteen T

he EAST Initiative will be adding 16 new schools through grant funding for the upcoming 2017-18 school year. These schools represent recipients of grants from the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), as well as programs established by a grant award from the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) in partnership with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and the Office of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “It is always exciting to welcome new members to the EAST family,” said Matt Dozier, president and CEO of the EAST Initiative. “This year’s class of new additions represents a tremendous diversity of talent and opportunity, with a broad range of students who will no doubt teach us as much as we teach them. We are taking EAST to places it has never been before, and we can’t wait to find out how these amazing young people will apply the cutting-edge technology we provide to serving and improving their local communities.” EAST began as an idea launched by a single teacher in a single classroom at Greenbrier High School in 1996. It was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 2001 and with these new additions — and potential developments over the summer — is expected to reach approximately 250 classrooms in five states at the outset of the new school year. The mission of the EAST Initiative is to provide all learners the opportunity to have relevant, individualized, life-changing educational experiences. For more information on EAST programs, visit www.eastinitiative.org.


These schools are: The Arkansas School for the Blind (Little Rock) Barton High School* Cedar Ridge Elementary (Newark) eStem Junior High School (Little Rock) Goodwill Excel School (Little Rock) Gosnell Elementary School* Hamburg Middle School* Hope Academy of Public Service Hoxie High School Huntsville Intermediate School McCrory High School Nettleton Middle School Shaw Elementary School (Springdale) Southside High School (Bee Branch) White Hall Middle School Williams Elementary School (Farmington)

*Denotes DRA grant recipients




EAST Quarterly: So let me start off by

simply asking what you are seeing as far as deployment of VR in education generally?

Shauna Heller is the founder and president of Clay Park VR, a firm based in Palo Alto, California, that offers developers, organizations and institutions counsel and executive direction on how to make and deploy meaningful virtual reality (VR) content and applications. She has worked in creative technologies since 2009 and worked formerly as a developer relations specialist for Oculus. We recently had a chance to speak with her about the state of VR in education, where it might go and how EAST students might use it. The following conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length.


EAST QUARTERLY | www.EASTinitiative.org

Shauna Heller: It’s actually come and gone multiple times over a few decades, but in its current iteration, where you have a commercially available, low-price, consumer-grade headset, it’s really early days for VR in the classroom and VR in education. Some of the early trends I’ve seen include small pilot programs with independent for-profit and nonprofit developers and organizations just trying put these headsets in classrooms to see how the students enjoy using them and what content they’re responding to. Right now it’s a couple of developers on a couple different continents putting together mostly 360-degree video content and creating light learning experiences out of those. It’s not meant to be highly instructional.


How do you see that changing and evolving? What would be your pie-in-the-sky version of the future of VR in the classroom?

SH: Teachers are beginning to interact a little bit with current VR hardware and software. I’d be very interested in creating pilot programs that parallel textbook curriculum that is already in use, meaning can we create some very specific VR curriculum that would have the exact same content as textbook learning but presented in a different medium. Then we test the students in longitudinal, A-B studies to measure whether they are learning more quickly, more deeply and in a more engaged fashion when using VR instead of a traditional textbook only. That’s the next 12 to 24 months, but really, looking out, it could be 5 years. It’s a marathon and not a race. It’s not just going to be overnight that we have headsets in every classroom or labs in every school. It’s going to take some time. The hardware could stand some refining, and already it’s undergoing a number of iterations in very rapid succession, both the mobile side and the PC side.


Based on what you’ve seen and heard about EAST and how its programs are starting to incorporate VR, how does that fit into what you’ve described?

A Not-So-Virtual Reality Expert offers insight into the state of VR in education and thoughts on its future

with VR is the right approach, which is to expose students to hardware and software, show them what games and experiences have already been made and then encourage students to become content creators. And I think that’s a really great approach right now.

EQ: Why do you say that? SH: It’s just such early days for VR. Mind you, there are going to be people who say, well, we’ve been studying VR and how people learn with it for 25 years. But it’s early days for understanding how students are going to learn curriculum in VR in its current iteration and how, in the long run, we’re going to build engaging content for VR. And to have students in EAST programs on the front lines of that, interacting with the hardware and the software and experimenting, I think we’re going to pull a lot of casual information, a lot of casual learnings out of that. And by “we” I mean the broader VR-in-education community, in which EAST will certainly have some prominence. EQ:

How do you rebut the criticism that putting VR in classrooms is just letting kids play video games at school? Because we’ve seen it used in some incredible projects.


The critical thing, and I think EAST does a really good job of this, is that you guys are using technology to engage students as members of the community and as humans. So I think, again, while it’s early days, that’s how it should work. You use technology as a tool, right?

I think that in these next couple of years, we’ll start learning a lot more about how certain types of students respond to certain types of content. And EAST is in a place where you’ve already had students interacting with the hardware and software. That will provide a nice voice in that discussion from a place of wisdom and experience. But what really sets EAST apart is that you guys understand that when you use technology as a tool, as an agent of change, you can foster even more community interaction and get more out of the technology.


Based on how you’ve seen VR used, what advice would you give EAST students on thinking outside the box and realizing what’s possible through VR and how they might use it in projects?

VR is the best tool to inspire anyone to start thinking outside the box.

SH: I think what EAST is trying to do

SH: I think for students in EAST, one of the best ways to approach VR from a student or human perspective is to think of it as a tool that solves problems like all good technology does. And EAST has already done a tremendous job by being founded on the idea of using technology to solve problems but using students to create the solutions and utilize the technology. VR is a really great extension of that. I’ve seen some international artists using VR in a very simple way to create art together, in real time, from different countries. And I see developers working with doctors to figure out a way to create a virtual medical review room, where doctors from different countries or different cities can put on a headset and go to the same room and look at patient data together, solve a medical diagnosis together. I’ve seen data visualization projects come together, where people are taking just massive amounts of data that are super hard to sift through on an Excel spreadsheet or traditional pie charts, and they’re using VR to create new visualization systems. The best way to encourage anyone, really, is just to put on the headset and explore different applications. That’s it. VR is the best tool to inspire anyone to start thinking outside the box.

EQ: Why do you say that? SH: Because we’ve been forced to think in 2D for a very long time. Because we haven’t had a way to see someone else’s 3D world. VR for the first time allows you to engage, interact and immerse yourself not only in your own 3D world but in someone else’s. That’s what happens when you put that headset on. SPRING 2017 | EAST QUARTERLY




ou are home alone, and a stranger knocks on the door. What do you do? Yell for them to come in? Or ask who it is? The above is one of a handful of situations tackled by “Virtual Life Scenarios,” a series of instructional videos designed by EAST at Armorel High School and set entirely within a virtual 3D environment intended to help students in the school’s special education program develop transitional skills for independent living after they get out of school. The project won the 2017 National Service Project competition at EAST Conference and also contributed to Armorel’s Award of Excellence for project innovation and sophistication. The project was developed by a team of students, with seniors Payton Winberry and Asan Balazi tackling the most technically demanding virtual environment.


“We’d been working on this kind of stuff for a while,” said Payton, on his background and interest in Unreal Engine, the program in which all the 3D environments were built. “We created a 3D tour of our school for newer students last year, so this year we thought we could easily help out with creating some of these scenarios.”

it. The idea of the instructional videos was born, and the teachers started developing 10 to 15 scenarios in each of the three environments noted above, such as the one about safely answering the door or finding a manager when lost in a store or parking lot, that would fit into instruction on transition skills for independent living.

The scenarios take place in environments familiar to students, such as the home, grocery store or parking lot, with plans to expand to other environments. Given their experience, Payton and Asan developed the grocery store, as it was expected to be the most complex, and provided guidance and expertise to younger teams in other classes working on the other environments.

“Those are the most common scenarios that they felt would work for students,” said Bell. “Our teachers wanted to be confident that their students were getting those transitional skills, and these are places in which teachers knew they could have dialogue with their students, because students were going to these places.”

“For me, it was much easier than Blender,” said Asan. “It was much easier just starting off. By watching tutorials, you could get into Unreal, and you could learn it a lot quicker than you would any other 3D software.”

The task for Payton, Asan and their peers was to bring the environments to life.

“Usually you just start from scratch,” said Payton. “You visualize where you want things to go, and then you start placing them. If you realize something is not going to work, you just move it around and keep trying to find the best spots for things.”

Alicia Bell, EAST facilitator for Armorel High School, said the project started when the special education faculty told her they had a 3D projector and asked what EAST might develop for 8

EAST QUARTERLY | www.EASTinitiative.org

“The amount of resources you can put into this is so broad,” said Payton of why they worked in Unreal Engine.

“You can do basically anything in here, and now that we’d figured out the basic virtual reality aspect of it, it had a lot to offer, and we knew it would be the best pick for doing all the things we needed to do for this project.”

The actual creation process required building a world from nothing.

Virtually POSSIBLE By Spencer Watson

“It’s a lot of trial and error,” added Asan. Those errors included random bugs that would, for example, keep walls from lining up — particularly when part of the challenge was figuring out how to make things to scale. You can’t exactly go measure every aisle and sign with a tape measure at the grocery store. But the most frustrating aspect, both students said, was losing time to things like software updates. “One thing that might not seem like a big problem but was for us was when Unreal Engine would update, because it would take a whole class period. And that’s pretty much a whole day wasted because you’re not working,” said Asan. Another learning experience, said Payton, was the recording process. While the computers he was working on were powerful, they weren’t quite

enough to render and record while moving around inside the virtual 3D world with a consistently smooth point of view. So he had to figure out how to slow the camera down so that it would not be choppy. Another learning opportunity: in making the videos and testing them with special education students, EAST students realized they needed to add an audio component because some students they were serving struggle with reading text on the screen. “Once we’d gotten into it, we weren’t even thinking about things like that. Whereas that was the most basic thing we should have thought about,” said Bell. “So practicing with students was really one of the best ways to test it, come back, make changes and test again.” In the end though, the struggles were worth it. While winning National Service Project award — a competition among all EAST schools, this year encouraging projects that furthered

education — was not the original goal, it was gratifying, students said, because often they faced a kind of stigma with their work. To the outside world, it looked like they were just making a video game. But the project had real meaning, both for them and the students they served through it. “It feels really good,” said Payton of seeing their work in action, “because you know that when someone is struggling with something and you’re able to help them with it, it makes you feel good. You’re making something easier for them. When you’re able to grasp what it is they’re not understanding, then display that and help them through it, that feels good inside.” “I’m in awe, honestly,” said Asan. “If you saw us working, you might think we aren’t doing anything, just placing blocks on a canvass. But we’re actually helping people learn to be independent and successful.”





ELDS I Y H C A O R P P A OPPOSITE N— U F T U B — L A U UNUS RISBURG R A H T A T C E J O R P s vastly different as EAST projects can be, there’s a fairly common process of thinking behind most of them: identify problem, fix problem. At least, that’s how it usually goes. This wasn’t the case for Harrisburg High School’s Tommy Maloney, though. “The hard part was applying it, I guess,” said the senior, who is finishing his third year in EAST and plans to go pre-med at Lyon College next year. “Usually there’s a problem and you have to figure out how to solve it. But with this, there was no problem really. We just built it.” The “it” he’s referring to is a bench that plays music, an idea his EAST facilitator saw and, given Tommy’s interest in coding, challenged him to try to replicate. “When people see it work, they tend to get excited, because it’s new and interesting,” Tommy said. “It’s something that doesn’t normally happen when you sit on a bench. Sometimes we’ll explain how it works to them before they sit down, sometimes we surprise them.” The project uses an Arduino microcontroller hooked up to a SparkFun 10

EAST QUARTERLY | www.EASTinitiative.org

Music Shield and attached to two metal plates at either end of the bench. When two people touch both plates at once and then touch each other, it creates an electrical circuit. A program loaded onto the Arduino tells the SparkFun to play a short selection of music. What music gets played is determined by the amount of resistance in the circuit.

So two people could touch hands and play one quick succession of high piano notes, but if they doused their hands in sanitizer and touched again, the notes would be different. The same would be true at different temperatures or in different humidity as well. A wide variety of environmental factors play into electrical resistance, making new music each time. “So, people can make different sounds. The program measures the resistance and each range of resistance is coded into the Arduino and assigned a different sound. And that’s pretty easy to mess with, too,” he explained. Easy once you get used to it, that is. Tommy admits that while he has worked on projects with the Raspberry Pi before, he was a total novice on the Arduino when he started this project.


“I really wasn’t comfortable with it, but my facilitator really encouraged me to use the Arduino this year. So I said ok, I’ll try it.” Learning took a lot of studying online tutorials. In fact, the whole bench project is out there online, with tutorials and schematics and everything. Tommy takes no credit for the idea, only the determination to try his hand at it.

“First we were just learning the Arduino by trying to get a light to blink. And I thought, we can’t even start the bench until I figure out how to get this thing to work. But I had told the computer we were using one type of Arduino when really it was a different one, so I couldn’t even upload a program to the Arduino because of that simple mistake. Looking back now, I’m like, wow, I’m so dumb. That’s the first thing you do!” But trial and error got him through, along with a lot of research. “People see a challenge like this and they think that it’s overwhelming or impossible, but you can find cool ‘doit-yourself’ videos on the internet. I think those intimidate some people,” he said. “People think I came up with this on


is that this can be a traveling STEM lesson, taken to other Harrisburg schools and even outside the district or up to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. Tommy said he was approached by staff of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub at EAST Conference who expressed an interest in borrowing the bench. It was even suggested to show it to the Arkansas Arts Center.


my own, that it’s all me, and I’m like, ‘No way!’ I saw this and learned how to do it using resources that were available to me.”

Those resources included leaning on fellow EAST students in Harrisburg’s agriculture program who could do the woodcutting and welding to put the actual bench together and burn the decoration into it. Tommy did the programming and circuitry, which was its own challenge. “Soldering!” he says when asked to identify the hardest part. “The intricacies of that are ridiculous!” In the end, though, even when it all worked, there were still questions.

“When we got done, everyone was left wondering what were we going to do with it. It’s just a bench that plays music.” The truth, though, is that it’s more than that. It’s a project that incorporates


(and can serve as a lesson about) virtually every aspect of STEM learning. There’s science in how the resistance works. Technology in the Arduino and coding. Engineering and math in the construction. The hope, then,

So does it solve a problem? Well, it offers a lesson and makes people smile in the process. That’s good enough for Tommy. “Most people’s EAST projects are dealing with hungry children or saving the world. Mine is a bench that plays music,” he laughed. “But when most people hear that, they wonder how it works. I’ll say, just sit on it and find out. And that’s what really makes me happy. The bench is a lot of fun.”




Just Getting STARTED

Winning Founder’s is no reason to slow down for a young program that’s found quick success by spencer watson


othing against pancakes, mind you, but Buffalo Island Central (BIC) High School senior Alex Talavera did not want to be eating at IHOP after the 2017 Founder’s Award was presented at EAST Conference.

“Last year, our superintendent wanted to take us out to eat as a celebration for being finalists, so we went to IHOP and had pancakes. But the kids were so down” from not winning the award, said Jill Sanders, facilitator for EAST at BIC. “I couldn’t convince them it was not a loss. Being a Founder’s finalist, that was a huge win in only the second year of our program!” So the rallying cry all year was “we won’t be going to IHOP this year,” said Alex. Still, in those tense moments before the winner was announced, there was an aura of mutual respect among the BIC students. They knew what it took to get there — for all the programs involved. “We knew that not only our EAST program but all the other EAST programs that were finalists put in a lot of work to try to better our communities through our technology,” said Ethan Webster. “Of course, it would be really cool to win it, but if the judges had decided another EAST program was more advanced or did better, we would always have next year.” It turns out, for BIC the third year’s a charm. Following up on last year’s incredible work, this year BIC was awarded the Timothy R. Stephenson Founder’s Award, the highest honor awarded to any EAST program, for its demonstrable strength in community collaboration, project sophistication and innovation and student growth. Notably, the celebration was at Chili’s.


EAST QUARTERLY | www.EASTinitiative.org

“We didn’t go to bed that night until probably 4,” said Jace Couch. It’s a picture of a program still giddy over just how far they’ve come in three short years — and one fully cognizant that, despite its success, now comes the hard part. “I can only hope that our program will improve from here,” said Drew, a senior who has been with EAST at BIC since its inception. “My part would be teaching other students whatever I know, passing down what I’ve learned in my three years of EAST and possibly making it easier for other students, maybe creating new projects for our students to continue. I can’t get senioritis now.” It’s the ethos of the entire program, which inhabits a unique place by serving three small, rural communities but being only a short drive from Jonesboro, the fifth largest city in the state. “Even before EAST was here, we were a very community-oriented school. Even though we’re three communities combined, we’re still very tight knit. I think that helps us,” said Jace. “I don’t buy the whole ‘we’re small so we can’t really do anything.’” “I don’t think we can focus on the disadvantages,” said Drew. “People may think we’re just a small town, a small school, that we can’t do anything big. But success is not a geographical feature. We can do big things.”

Those big things have included: partnering with Arkansas State University to renovate and redesign websites used to maintain a database of weather information for the many farmers in the area; using GIS to pinpoint the location of area grain bins, a source of potentially fatal accidents in which people can get trapped and have very little time for rescue services to arrive; creating collaborative maps of fire hydrants and veterans’ grave sites in multiple communities; working with a local nursing home

students for jumping right in with that can-do attitude. “I wish I had an easy formula that said just do this and your kids will have great projects,” she laughed. “I believe in pushing your kids. We do brainstorming at the beginning of the year as they come up with projects and then say ok, how can we take this further? How can we make it more sophisticated?” But more than that, she said, it’s

“People may think we’re just a small town, a small school, that we can’t do anything big. But success is not a geographical feature.

We can do big things.” to establish an “adopt a grandfriend” program partnering senior citizens with student volunteers; a 3D printing project to create a crutch for a doll with a little girl who walks with the assistance of crutches; and much more. It’s an extensive resumé, particularly for a new program, and one at the high school level, in which students have little institutional experience in the EAST way of thinking. “I remember the very first year that we had EAST, the very first day I came in here, you could tell that really nobody knew what EAST was or what we were supposed to be doing in this class,” said Kensie Walker. “But Mrs. Jill was so excited to be here. So I walked in, saw all this technology, and I just knew that this EAST program, whatever it was we were supposed to be doing, we were going to do great things.” For her part, Sanders credits her

about making connections. “I think the key in high school, and really any age but especially at high school, is you really have to convince the kids that you do care about them, and you have to earn their respect. If you can get the kids to buy in, they will work super hard for you. But they have to see that you care and that you’re willing to work alongside them, do whatever you can to help them, encourage them.” There’s no doubt that students in Sanders’ EAST classroom have bought in (and that she, who taught elementary social studies before being recruited by the superintendent to launch EAST at BIC, has bought in, too). “[The] Buffalo Island Central EAST program is not EAST without Mrs. Jill,” said Alex. With the program so connected, and having achieved a lot of success, the

common question nowadays is what they will do next. Students haven’t been idle in pondering that. “I feel like the only thing to do next is continue to learn by doing. That way we get better, we get more projects done and we help the community,” said Logan Lawrence. “I don’t think you can ever become entirely complacent in EAST,” said Cadyn Qualls. “You are always looking for new ideas and new ways to expand the projects that you’re already working on.” “You get motivation from the people you work with,” said Christopher Renteria. “When you see your project actually helping and benefiting people, it gives you that pride and joy that you’re really doing something. You’re making a difference.” Making a difference — and making connections — includes doing so with colleagues in EAST, too. “At Conference a lot of people came up to offer congratulations. Then they’d start asking about where BIC is and want to collaborate with us. So, from that, I think that everyone’s really inspired to get more involved with their community,” said Alissa Hughes. For BIC, that means there’s no time for slowing down, they said. It’s time to seize the momentum and continue to achieve. “People are asking us ‘what’s next’ and ‘what are you going to do now,’ and that’s a great contrast from what they used to ask us before, which was ‘what is EAST?’” said Kensie. “Nobody knew what it was, but we’ve grown so much that people know now, and they want us to do great things.”

CONFERENCE Every EAST school knows that, when it comes to the annual EAST Conference, one of the biggest challenges is designing a booth. It’s a 10foot cube that offers a blank canvas upon which to paint a picture of a program’s projects and its personality. There are, of course, aesthetic considerations, which are reflected in the Signature Design awards. For three years running, the Mountain Home School District has proven their prowess at combining their efforts to create remarkable, collaborative displays. This year’s winner for individual design was Morrilton High School for its Matrix-inspired digs. But while EAST incorporates art, it also has a fundamental identity in technology. Hence, the Best of Tech award for the school displaying the best use of technology in its booth. Students and their facilitator from this year’s winner, first-time Conference participant Westside High School out of Jonesboro, offered some thoughts on how they achieved their stylish synthesis, which turned out to be quite fitting.


EAST QUARTERLY | www.EASTinitiative.org

Braidyn Milner, design

Tyler Wood, technology

“If you’re trying to design something, whether a flyer or a poster or your backdrop for EAST Conference, you need to have a specific theme in mind before you start. Because if you just start throwing stuff on there, it’s going to look sloppy.”

“Originally we were going to go with gaming, because of the Level Up [component of the Conference theme], but then we voted. From there, we took some basic ideas of Tron, like neon colors and circles like their discs, and worked those in.”

Brooke Chapman, facilitator

Jonathan Bunnell, technology

“We taped off a 10x10x10 square in the classroom and started with the theme of the Conference and what we wanted our theme to be. One of my students suggested Tron Legacy, because this is our first year and the start of our program.”


“We had five or six themes laid out, and we finally decided we wanted to go with Tron Legacy [to inspire the aesthetic]. And then somebody came up with the slogan: leaving our legacy. So, with that, I started looking at Tron, because I’d seen the movie but didn’t immediately know what to do for the background.”

“[Good design] will keep people’s attention on what they need to be focusing on. Around text and things they need to read, keep it clean, but it can be busy around the pictures. Keep them looking at what they need to look at.”


“I didn’t know how to use Photoshop at all. But when [Mrs.] Chapman asked if anyone wanted to design the posters, I said I would do it.”


“Really as soon as we came up with Tron, I immediately wanted LED lights.”



Westside offers insight on its techy, tasteful, award-winning Conference booth


“We went through a couple backgrounds before we found the one we wanted. And after that, I was trying to find the font that I wanted. We downloaded quite a few fonts.”


“For technology, we just thought about what we really needed. We didn’t take as much as we’d originally planned.”


“We did what we knew we had time for that would be our best options.”


“I think having the booth up in our room for a long time helped a lot. Because every day when you walk in, you would see something different. Students who weren’t even going to Conference would walk in and say, what about this?”


“We had business cards that used the theme, brochures with the same color blue and our project posters. While someone else worked on those, I made sure it would all go together.”


“I think they did a great job of dividing the work up and everybody doing

their own job with a cohesive plan. Everybody knew what the aesthetic was and what the end product needed to look like.”


“About two weeks before Conference, one of the light strips stopped working halfway down, so, while we could still use it, we had to figure out how to hide the rest of it under the backdrop.”


“Seeing it at Conference, my face just lit up. I stood there thinking, ‘I’d never touched Photoshop before in my life, and I did that!’ I literally wanted to cry.”


“That was the amazing thing about doing this. There was no way Braidyn would have learned all about Photoshop if I had just given her some random assignment. This was ultimate project-based learning.”


“I don’t think anyone realized how good it looked until it was around other booths. I think ours looked really sophisticated, and it looked like we’d put time and effort into it, which we did… And when they announced the winner as Westside High, I jumped up and screamed. I was crying while walking up to the stage. I was like, what did we…? How did we...? I couldn’t form words.”


“I think we realized it’s not about having the most technology. All we had was four light strips and a computer. It was about quality, not quantity.”


“I think the way the winner is chosen [by text voting live at Conference] is really exciting. Because students know what is in an EAST classroom and what equipment we have access to. And they know how hard it is to use that stuff. So I think that’s a really huge compliment.”


“Our inspiration was Tron Legacy, and I think it worked out very well, because we definitely left our legacy at EAST Conference.” SPRING 2017 | EAST QUARTERLY





EAST QUARTERLY | www.EASTinitiative.org





TheBEHIND Plan THE CURTAIN CREATING THE PRODUCTIONS OF EAST CONFERENCE 2017 Each year as thousands of students are preparing to attend EAST Conference, working hard to master their program pitch and designing their booth to share and celebrate the work they’ve done all year long, the EAST staff is also working hard to make the experience one these students won’t soon forget.

depicted rising meters on a sound equalizer, and we saw an opportunity to incorporate animation into the logo while using an enhanced version of some technical skills we tried out on our Conference stage a few years ago, projection mapping. What we tried then, we “levelled up” for this year.

On the technical side of things, that includes designing shows for our general sessions that will really “wow” our guests. There is a great deal of work and planning that goes on behind the scenes. For this issue’s Geek Speak, we wanted to give you a “backstage pass” and show you a little bit of how we create our magic.

Projection mapping is the process of using projectors to distort an image on a physical object. The distortion actually makes the object look like it’s moving or changing. This allows us to turn essentially anything, a stage backdrop or even the side of a building, into a very large display. It allows for experiences you just can’t create with simple, standard projection (like large TV screens or the like).

digital mock-up to the final product, we were able to get very close to our original vision. The hanging panels are just plastic roof panels you can buy from any home improvement store. The objects we used for projection mapping were built with Coroplast, a corrugated plastic material usually used for outdoor signs. While projection mapping is versatile in the surfaces it will work on, we spent a lot of time selecting these materials, weighing a number of factors, including price, size and type of material. Some of the other materials considered were foam core, dry wall, MDF board (similar to plywood), oriented strand board (similar to particle board) and project fabric. In the end, we choose Coroplast because it is cheap, light and easy to cut and build with.

With that in mind, we designed the stage using 3D modeling software Blender to create a digital model and envision what everything would look like. As you can see by comparing the

For the digital effects we took the flat Conference logo and created a 3D version of it. We then used a special software called Resolume Arena 5 to create the projection mapping ef-

This year’s Conference theme was Level Up: EAST Mode. Our logo was selected from student submissions and featured heavily in how we branded Conference. As such, we wanted to have this logo be a prominent part of the stage productions. The logo 18

EAST QUARTERLY | www.EASTinitiative.org

BY DOUG GUSEWELLE fects. This program is an industry standard tool for video jockeys (VJs), other producers or entertainers who stage concerts or large public shows. It allows playback of various media and can add effects and sync them to music. It supports multiple displays with intuitive, easy management of all of them. This year, embracing this new technology and the opportunities it presents, we incorporated more displays on stage than ever before. We had a total of nine different displays: two projectors for the side screens, an LED display wall for the center screen, two projectors for projection mapping, two digital displays on the podiums, and two more displays between the top and bottom levels of the stage. We used three computers to run the show: one for PowerPoint presentations, one for projection mapping and one more to run all the other displays on stage and play videos.

production. Resolume is set up by default to be able to sync effects with the audio, but in our case we needed to play video based on the audio. Normally, Resolume can make things move or change their size or color, along with a few other effects, but it wasn’t able to do everything we needed it to do out of the box. That required us to do some research and find our answer in an add-on for Resolume that allowed us to control video playback based on the audio. We created most of the video and effects in Blender and then imported them into Resolume.

using it, we definitely plan to do more cool things with it at future conferences. We already have some neat ideas for next year, and we can’t wait to show you what we come up with.

Equipped with this new, powerful software and now some experience

For more information on Blender (free download), visit: https://www.blender.org/

Naturally, we also can’t wait to see what our students come up with for a logo for EAST Conference 2018. The theme is All Systems Go.

For more information on Resolume, visit: https://resolume.com/

As any EAST veteran knows, there are always challenges when learning a new program. For us, the hardest thing to get working correctly in Resolume was making the equalizer bars in the logo go up and down in sync with the audio during the SPRING 2017 | EAST QUARTERLY



JUNE 2017 15th 19th-23rd 24th

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AUGUST 2017 11th-15th

Little Rock, AR

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


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


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Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design


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We asked the staff “What other job would you like to do at EAST, either temporarily or permanently, real or imagined?”

Matt Dozier

President / Chief Executive Officer Matt@EASTstaff.org

Mary Forst

Chief Financial Officer MaryF@EASTstaff.org

“My dream is to help EAST grow to the point where I can spend my golden years managing the EAST Foundation and give away some of the funds that we spend so much time raising right now. I think it would be nice to be philanthropic.”

“I really like to doodle, so I think the designer job would be my pick. Sadly, I am not trained for the position, and I definitely lack the creativity to be effective. But the idea of getting to do something with my doodles is exciting.”

Tami Baker

Amy Bell

Program Coordinator Tami@EASTstaff.org

Program Coordinator Amy@EASTstaff.org

“I would like to be a career coach for our programs that don’t have a career program at their school.”

“I love to work with the Adobe products and graphic design. I would not describe myself as creative, but I have found an outlet with InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. I love learning the programs and creating design. In my imagined job, I would have loads of time and opportunity to learn and develop those skills.”

Sam Byrd

Lori Canada

Technical Support Group Member Sam@EASTstaff.org

Program Coordinator Lori@EASTstaff.org

“I would like to be the music editor. Every week, we would bring in a different staff member to sing a song that is tailor-made to them. Doug could sing a hip-hop, Matt could sing Broadway, Marisa could sing country, and Spencer could sing k-pop. I think we’ll have a hit by the end of the year (and music to use in communications projects).”

“I would love to be the resident labeler and office decorator. I like to make things pretty and organized. A label maker for Valentine’s Day was the best gift ever! I’d also love a place to cut vinyl and make things “pretty.” Need a “To Do” section for your whiteboard? Just call on me to make that happen for ya.”

Reuben Canada

Toni Cook

Director of Information Technology Reuben@EASTstaff.org “I’d like to take a trial run at an accounting role. I like math, rules and structure. Accounting seems to fit well into that.”

Purchasing Coordinator Toni@EASTstaff.org “I think I would create a new position, a researcher. This position would research and publish data on the EAST model and other topics that would be beneficial to our organization. Research is stimulating, challenging and thought-provoking. I think it would be incredibly enjoyable to work as a researcher for EAST.”



Adam Crider Programmer


Marisa Damm

Lead Technical Support Marisa@EASTstaff.org

“I would like to be a dev-ops engineer. They handle all the network operations and are a bridge between programmers and infrastructure.”

“One day EAST will be nationwide and will need a network of trainers. I’d take a post in our Florida offices, training on the beaches and soaking up the sun.”

Aaron David

Diana Denning

Technical Support Group Member Aaron@EASTstaff.org



“I would like to develop a partnership with SpaceX and coordinate delivery of installs at new schools via space. Doug agrees this is needed for EAST. ”

“I would love to serve as an EAST facilitator in one of our schools for a day. To see these young minds discover and learn would be incredibly fulfilling and a wonderful reminder of our purpose here at EAST. ”

Jessica Dunham

Doug Gusewelle

Events Manager


Technical Resource Specialist Doug@EASTstaff.org

“It would be fun to be a Tech Support Group (TSG) member, but only if I could also have their wit and tech-savviness, of course. They get to play with the coolest toys, and to all the students they are the rock stars of EAST!”

“I would thoroughly enjoy a full-time, mobile tech support position. The ability to go to a location, troubleshoot and solve a problem would be amazing. It can be difficult to troubleshoot an issue over the phone with no visual clues. Being onsite in front of computers makes providing support much simpler.”

Rinda Hall

Phaedra Hawkins

Program Coordinator Rinda@EASTstaff.org

Student Training Coordinator Phaedra@EASTstaff.org

“I sincerely hope we grow to the point this dream becomes a reality: I’d love to be part of the team establishing EAST Initiative offices in other states! Education is different here and can be nationwide!”

“I would temporarily try the internet services/web design position. Our web team does an amazing job creating websites, enhancing existing websites/pages and designing new programs. I would like to job shadow them to see the awesome work they do.”

Eric Holt

James Hopper

Internet Services Manager Eric@EASTstaff.org “I’d like to be the automation guy, looking for ways to make everyone else’s job easier by using computers to do the boring stuff. This would also, coincidentally, make me Lord of the Machines (official title).”


EAST QUARTERLY | www.EASTinitiative.org

Development Coordinator James@EASTstaff.org “President of EAST Consulting: Did you know that nonprofit organizations can “own” businesses? Profits can provide funding for the nonprofit’s programs. The possibilities for this type of business are limitless. We could start a restaurant, app development company, etc. Regardless, the end results are the same: more money, more EAST.”

Alicia Humbard

Lani Jennings-Hall

Program Coordinator

Marketing & Events Coordinator



“I would LOVE to be a part of Tech Support Group (TSG). (I’m really dreaming here since I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t be much help with help tickets.) To be immersed in all the cool tech stuff — how fun! Maybe I’d pick up a few things. ”

“I wouldn’t mind being able to shop and spend money for a day in purchasing! You never know what you will be looking for: anything from a chair for the front office, to yummy snacks, to the coolest new technology!”

Cody Jones

Jerry Prince

Staff Accountant

Senior Director of Program Services



“I would like to try being the founder of EAST. It would be fun to be the most popular person at Conference, and being retired would be a nice bonus.”

“Air Traffic Control: The View from Above. If I had access to data, resources — oh, and a crystal ball — I would love to have the capacity to look ahead and plot the next small steps for EASTkind followed by the larger steps and even larger steps.”

Melanie Ridlon

Spencer Watson

Senior Director of Operations

Communications Manager



“A dream job for me would be the EAST photographer! I have a strong love for good photography, and a perk would be to capture EAST at special events! Plus, I would have more opportunities to strengthen my presentation skills while sharing photography concepts with students through technical training and EAST facilitators at events.”

“I think it would be fun (and challenging) to be a sort of stafflevel meta-facilitator, finding and recruiting students with highly specialized skills from different schools and districts and forming teams to tackle major projects that require the resources of the entire EAST Initiative. The JustEAST League! Anyone?”









To view EQ online


www.EASTinitiative.org SPRING 2017

Profile for EAST Initiative

Spring 2017 EQ  

The quarterly magazine of the EAST Initiative.

Spring 2017 EQ  

The quarterly magazine of the EAST Initiative.

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