Learning Opportunities Come From Passion - A Student's Perspective

Victor was in my Freshman Math/Physics class. I was much more traditional then than I am now and although he did well in my class he was extremely bored. This plus other factors led me to deeply question my classroom and curriculum practices. Although he is a Junior now, his accomplishments dwarf that of many adults. He has embraced what Patrick and I talk about in terms of learning potential and is an amazing example of what is possible. He leaves for his Junior Internship tomorrow and I asked him before he left to share his thoughts with us:

Hello, I am Victor and I am a Junior. I am part of the school’s robotics team led by Phil which many of you probably know as the writer of this blog, you probably also know Patrick Yurick as a contributor to the Broken Airplane, but to me he is my mentor/publisher for the Graphic Novel Project. The things you learn through these courses are things that some people have to wait until their Senior year in college to learn. 

I have done a crazy variety of things ranging from creating a virtual world, to taking part in the San Diego Comic-Con as a professional. Both of these courses are amazing in their own ways, sometimes even in the same ways, but being part of both of them allows you to be able to pull information from separate sides of a spectrum and everything in between.

In robotics I have been able to learn many different skills including programming, building and designing. My first year I worked on the VEX robot as a builder/programmer, I was able to understand several different concepts important to programmers, for example, troubleshooting and universal commands like: if, else, while. 

In my second year, me and another student, Anthony created a virtual park in which I was introduced to the open-source animation/game engine Blender and scripting software, Python. Together we stayed countless hours after school to finish the program which we were able to take all the way up to Washington D.C. to present at the first National Science fair. We were able to stand next to professionals proudly presenting our project as Sophomores. This year I am back on building and we are taking a much more professional approach to the construction of the robot. I created three different robot designs and am currently working on a proof of concept. Robotics has made me realize that I really enjoy creating games and it is at the top of my “Majors I am considering” list.

I have also had a fair amount of success in the Graphic Novel Project. I have learned and mastered most of the Adobe Creative Suite CS3 because it is what we mostly use to ink/color our comics. I have become extremely proficient in Photoshop up to the point which I know what EVERY button does. Last year everyone in the project had to create their own comic. I discovered that I actually enjoy drawing and I might actually want to draw as a hobby or maybe a profession later on in life, something that had never crossed my mind, I have already had my first “Professional” job designing a t-shirt for Eco-Vivarium. I would have never been able to accept the job without the knowledge that the Graphic Novel Project has given me.

Being part of these two amazing groups has allowed me to absorb many valuable skills and given me many once in a lifetime chances some people would kill to obtain. The best part about these things is that the following years people will get a chance to live through the same experiences I have gone through. We already have a spot in the 2012 annual Science Fair and San-Diego Comic Con. Hopefully people will be able to pull as much information as I have.

Victor is a wonderful person and brilliant in his own right, but he would be the first to say  that everyone is capable of doing these amazing things if given the opportunity. Robotics and the Graphic Novel Project were born out of Patrick and my passion for these things. What are you passionate about and how can you provide incredible learning opportunities for your students? The world will be changed by those who are passionate and share that passion with others!