"Wow, what is this?"
"In today's society, Grandpa isn't around anymore to take us down the cellar, pull apart a radio and show us the logic of how things work," says Phil Hammel, design and technology teacher, at Hunterdon Central Regional High School. "My role is to facilitate problem-solving situations that help students learn to think, discern, and make good choices."
To do so, Hammel employs a state-of-the-art technology classroom that serves as a prototype of what learning might look like in the 21st century. "Wow, what is this?" students exclaim frequently on seeing the classroom and its equipment, which is comparable to what might be found on a university campus or the modern workplace.
Hammel's students use computers to plan, draw, display, calculate, and forecast projects before a tool is ever put to metal or wood. Computers also help operate machines and manipulate materials to turn ideas into finished products. "Students have to have hands-on experience with the materials," says Hammel. "Throwing out the lathes and just filling the room with computers is a mistake."
Hammel's classroom is one of four prototype classrooms built as models for future planning by the new superintendent, Raymond Farley, who arrived at Hunterdon Central in 1990. "One of my goals was to improve instruction by focusing on self-directed learning," explains Farley. "Our facility, however, did not encourage this approach. Self-directed learning demands an environment that allows ideas to flourish and provides tools that encourage risk-taking. How could we expect teachers to perform miracles in outdated, ill-equipped, factory-model classrooms using the same tools educators relied on at the beginning of the 20th century -- namely a book, a blackboard, and a piece of chalk."
The four classrooms are part of a larger transformation that have made "Hunterdon Central truly a beacon," according to Governor Christie Whitman who helped dedicate the classrooms in March 1994. The rest of the transformation was on display during the governor's address to the students, staff, and community from the school's television studio, broadcast live in the school and over local cable to the community.
Located on a 72-acre campus, approximately 1,800 students can take advantage of two classroom buildings, a 2,000-seat field house, an instructional media center, and buildings for music and vocational education.
Technology is a big factor in this modern, comprehensive high school. Students and teachers can take advantage of:
With these tools in hand, computer activities infuse the Hunterdon Central curriculum. The use of word processing, database, simulation, and spreadsheet programs can be found in everything from English, mathematics, and science to arts and music, health, physical education, and vocational programs in design and technology.
For additional information:
Hunterdon Central Regional High School District
84 Route 31
Flemington, NJ 08822