Clark County students explore interests with FUSE software


A technology exploration program rolled out in local schools this year has created a buzz with middle school students, mainly they said because it feels like fun, not school work.

FUSE Studios is an online learning platform developed by researchers at Northwestern University. The idea is to let kids self-explore the STEAM disciplines — science, technology, engineering, applied arts and math — to pique their interest in those areas without forcing assignments on them.

“You can do stuff that’s entertaining,” said Jordan Louden, an eighth grader at Schaefer Middle School. “And talk to your friends.”

He and several others have used their time every other week in the FUSE program to move through the laser defender challenges in which the student must position mirrors and other objects to direct a laser beam and create a security alarm system. Their friends then get to try to break in and steal their treasure without tripping the laser beam.

“It actually challenges you to be creative,” said fellow eighth grader Zachary Curtsinger. “It actually tested me. I thought it was going to be easy.”

All students in grades seven through 12 at Springfield City School District and Clark-Shawnee middle schools, and all high school students at Springfield, Shawnee, the Global Impact STEM Academy and the Springfield-Clark Career Technology Center have access to FUSE Studios, either through classroom time or at the YOUmedia center at The Dome.

Seventh and eighth graders don’t have access to all the challenges or technology, said Schaefer teacher Heather Hall, but they get a taste of the possibilities so they might be inspired to use it more when they get to high school.

The consortium of schools received a Straight-A grant last year, using part of it to pay $61,500 to license the program for four years. The software came with supply kits that go with some of the challenges, like the pieces to build a game controller, plus a 3D printer and vinyl cutter.

The Clark County consortium is one of only three FUSE locations outside of the Chicago area. The other two are in California.

The students so far have liked having less structure, Hall said, and have even done some of the challenges on their own at home, such as making their own music ring tones.

“They’ll come in and show me, like, ‘Look what I made,’” Hall said.

But the students are learning, too, she said.

Brett Drake, an eighth grader, likes the LED light challenge the best, in which students have to program a circuit so they can light up their LED with a push button.

“They’re learning how that circuit works,” just by playing with it through trial and error, Hall said.

In the end, what the students do with the program is really up to them, said Kim Fish, director of communications and collective impact for Springfield schools.

“Each challenge has many levels, so we hope students find challenges that engage them and that they will persist to ‘level up,’” she said. “It seems to foster self-sufficiency, collaboration and persistence, and curiosity about science. And the kids are learning some electronics and software that is brand new.”

Beyond those skills, the middle-schoolers said they’re interested in pursuing STEAM studies in high school, college and possibly as a job.


Reader Comments


Next Up in Community News

Letters to Santa delivered 106 years later
Letters to Santa delivered 106 years later

Letters to Santa hidden behind a chimney mantle for more than 100 years  were recently revealed during a town’s Christmas celebration.  >> Read more trending news  Two children, whose great-grandparents likely played with the letters’ authors, delivered them to Santa during the Beverly Old Fashioned Christmas....
South Carolina prisoner suing to smoke pot in jail, says his religion requires it
South Carolina prisoner suing to smoke pot in jail, says his religion requires it

A prisoner is suing the South Carolina Department of Corrections, contending the agency has violated his religious freedoms by refusing to allow him to smoke pot or wear dreadlocks. >> Read more trending news  Inmate James Rose, 41, filed the federal lawsuit last week, contending the agency has violated his constitutional rights by not providing...
Patriots’ Julian Edelman wears cleats to honor synagogue shooting victims 
Patriots’ Julian Edelman wears cleats to honor synagogue shooting victims 

New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is wearing cleats in honor of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting victims during Sunday night’s game against the Steelers. >> Read more trending news  Edelman tweeted a photo of the cleats, along with the words "In Remembrance" with all of the victims’ names. The cleats...
Woman trying to return U.S. Army ring found at Georgia Dairy Queen
Woman trying to return U.S. Army ring found at Georgia Dairy Queen

A Georgia woman is hoping to find the owner of a U.S. Army ring. >> Read more trending news  Kimberly Smith reached out to Channel 2 Action News with photos of the ring. She found it at a Dairy Queen in Newnan on Dec. 14. In an Instagram post, Smith said, "I’d love to find the amazing, brave soul (and) owner of this special...
Artist paints Iowa’s largest mural on side of 110-foot silo
Artist paints Iowa’s largest mural on side of 110-foot silo

An Australian artist turned the side of a 110-foot silo into what is believed to be the largest mural in Iowa.  >> Read more trending news  Guido van Helten finds a challenge in all his projects, but he especially enjoyed adding the details and accounting for the silo’s curves in achieving the final product. "This one's probably...
More Stories