Soldotna's newest technology-savvy freshmen learn to teach others

Getting SMART

First, the Megalodon model bit through a large block of Styrofoam. Then, it moved on to larger fare, a wave-runner, a kayak, a large steel frame; with each passing feat more students gathered around the Soldotna High School computer screen.

When he was sufficiently impressed, freshman Cole Bartelds made a few quick movements with his mouse, attached a document to the video and embedded both in his SMART Board Project file.

The video was one of several students downloaded, learned to convert into different formats and manipulate inside their projects.

He and 17 other of the school’s newest batch of “Star Techies” spent the day learning the hardware, software and capabilities of the interactive white board in what school administrators say has been a successful experiment in using students as tech-support.

Bartelds, who was selected for the program by his computer application’s teacher Donna Bartman, said he’s good with “computers and stuff” and could see using his newfound knowledge to help teachers and other students better utilize their classroom technology.

“My biology teacher, he’s kind of impaired on (SMART Boards),” Bartelds said. “A lot of times he’s wondering kind of what’s going on with it.”

Michael Lewis said he did not know the interactive board had so much capability.

“I kind of want to use the SMART technology more often since I know a lot more about it and I can probably teach more people about how to use it better too, that way they can have the knowledge,” Lewis said.

Lewis said he got a letter in the mail inviting him to participate in the class.

Students with both technological and leadership skills are selected for the class, Bartman said.

Hannah Pothast goofed around with a microphone, speaking in an Australian accent and giggling with her classmates, as she learned how to record audio and embed it into a project.

She said she was excited to move beyond Power Point presentations and into something more interactive and useful for her class work.

Currently there are about 100 Star Techies at Soldotna High School, each trained to demonstrate technology to their peers and troubleshoot for their teachers.

The effect is almost viral as teachers can learn from students and students pass knowledge along to each other.

“We have so many smart boards in all these classes,” Lewis said. “We’re able to pass things along to teachers and they’ll pass things along to other students so things will get around much quicker.”


Rashah McChesney can be reached at


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