Portland School Notebook: Dec. 14

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Baxter Academy takes Thomas Cup

A team from Baxter Academy for Technology and Science won the second annual Thomas Cup, the Thomas College IT and gaming competition that took place Dec. 2-3. The winners were Julian Bernard of Portland, Antonio Custodio of Buxton, Caleb Marston of South Portland, John Zarate of South Portland and Walter Backman of Raymond. Almost 200 high school and home schooled students on 41 teams from all over Maine attended, and over 40 Thomas College students helped organize the competition. Competitions included League of Legends competition, crime scene investigation, cyber war, robot war and an art component, during which students demonstrated aptitude in problem solving, robotics and computer programming.

The Thomas Cup is an overnight gaming and technology competition that included cyber defense, gaming, computer science, and crime scene investigation (CSI). There is no cost for students or participating schools. To learn more, see http://bit.ly/2hfSSzZ.

Thomas College will present the team with a trophy at an assembly at Baxter in January.

Baxter Academy students share at Educate Me

Students from Baxter Academy for Technology and Science participated Dec. 9 at Educate ME’s sixth-annual education symposium at Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland. The students presented as part of a panel titled “Innovative Student-Centered Models: Showcasing Innovation in Maine Classrooms.”

Dawson Spencer, a senior from Falmouth, shared his experience in computer science. While given the freedom to explore specific programs, Spencer has learned time and team management skills that allowed him to see his project through to completion. “(L)earning how to problem-solve is one of the most important skills I gained from the class. Now, I am able to help students new to programming,” Spencer said.

Among the student presenters, Emma Christman, a junior from Litchfield, discussed her work in an analogue photography class. In this course, students research photo development techniques and teach each other the processes. Students apply science and art methods to achieve frame-worthy finished pieces. “Student-centered learning is an important aspect of today’s classrooms,” Christman said. “It allows students to not only excel, using topics they enjoy to research, but also encourages students to direct their learning towards what they feel compelled to study, perhaps even, through their careers.”

Additionally, six Baxter students offered mini-lessons on computer programming and coding. Using the website, code.org, they demonstrated to those new to programming that it is not as daunting as it might appear.

The following Baxter Academy students also participated: Camden Accuosti, Cape Elizabeth; Zale Rasco, Cape Elizabeth; Caleb Marston, South Portland; Antonio Custodio, Buxton; Ryan Courbron, Lewiston; Jean Claude Zarate, South Portland; Madeline Rheaume, Kennebunk; Caroline Ross, Gray.

Baxter Academy is a college-preparatory public charter school in Portland that promotes student ownership of learning through a project-based curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering, and math, and known as STEM. It is open to any student in the state by random lottery.

UNE announces new program

The University of New England announces the launch of the UNE Academy of Digital Sciences, Maine’s first accelerated professional certificate series covering a full-spectrum of digital skills in winter 2017.

Developed in collaboration with Maine businesses, including IDEXX, Unum, MaineHealth and L.L. Bean, the UNE Academy allows the University to serve as a bridge between Maine’s professional workforce and the explicitly stated needs of area employers.

Based on UNE’s participation in The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Breakthrough Models Incubator and insights from the Department of Labor’s national competency models, the UNE Academy’s first programs will help current and aspiring professionals start and advance their computing and digital careers in the four key areas business leaders say they need most: development and programming, interaction and interface, analysis and data, and management and strategy. The UNE Academy will also offer an introductory digital essentials program, allowing newcomers to assess and explore their levels of interest.

The UNE Academy will provide self-paced, eight-week programs throughout the year.

From left, Baxter High School students Walter Backman, Caleb Marston, John Zarate, Julian Bernard and Antonio Custodio won the Thomas Cup competition held at Thomas College in Waterville Dec. 2-3.

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