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WNYIT 2020 conference offers technology ideas for students by students

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

For students, by students. That's how the first annual Western New York Informational Technology conference is described. Students from nearly 20 schools from throughout Western New York gathered Friday at the Erie Community College North Campus STEM Building to learn more about information technology, and encourage peers and educators to use it in all fields of study.

Throughout the day, students led 21 presentations offering pointers and lessons including increased understanding of Google and Microsoft programs and extensions, basic HTML and CSS coding, building a student tech team and even drone piloting.

Eric Rouin, a senior at Lancaster High School, led a session Friday morning titled "Autopsy of a Computer." It was a lesson about the inner workings of the hardware, during which he explained how he put his own machine together and how they may locate and acquire the parts needed to build their own computers.

"A lot of people know the software and stuff, but not a lot of people know the hardware that the computer has and all the parts ot it," he said. "That's what I'm trying to show people in my presentation today."

Rouin also serves as a student tech team member, available to assist fellow students with support needs. His is just one of several participating schools which have such student tech teams. At Alden High School, it's known as ATLAS.

"It's the Alden Technology Leaders as Students," said Alden High School principal Kevin Ryan. "It's a group of about 25 to 30 students who act as first-level technology support in our building and in our district, to support our one-to-one computing program."

Ryan noted that with information technology, students are even able to interact and learn together with peers from other schools. Some of Friday's presentations were delivered jointly by students from more than one school district.

The purpose of the conference, Ryan explained, is to encourage more use of available technology in all areas of study.

"Technology is ubiquitous in our world," he said. "It's incumbent upon us as educators to help our students learn how to use technology appropriately to be successful in the 21st Century."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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