Making the Grade: Technology at Mableton school enhances collaboration


Making the Grade: Technology at Mableton school enhances collaboration

Information about Floyd Middle School, 4803 Floyd Road, Mableton, is online at; 770-819-2453.

When it comes to getting kids excited about careers in math, science and technology fields, the earlier the better, experts say. At Floyd Middle in Mableton, 960 students are now getting concrete ideas about where STEM skills can take them, thanks to a new space created by two outside organizations.

Floyd’s College and Career Access Center became a reality in early October after 50 volunteers from FedEx, working in conjunction with the Heart of America’s READesign program and the Cobb school district, teamed up to give Floyd Middle School a new College and Career Access Center. Weeks before, representatives from FedEx had spent a half day in the building, and after a brief deliberation, selected Floyd as the site of a center that provides students with hands-on access to a variety of technology tools.

“They saw that we have several things already in place to increase our students’ exposure to science, technology, math and the arts,” said Principal Teresa Hargrett. “We also have counselors who are advising college and career readiness because middle school is not too early to start planning for the future. Many of the college programs now require students to start thinking specifically about course preparation in high school, so the more time they have to explore options and look at requirements, the better they’ll be able to select the educational track that will lead to certain careers.”

The volunteers pitched in to design the space in a separate room off the media center, to outfit it with tables, computers and collaborative work stations, and to stock it with 180 books and career materials. Since its debut, the center has become more than a space for career planning and research.

“Teachers enjoy taking their classes there to use the collaborative work stations where students can connect various devices and create and share ideas and projects,” said Hargrett. “If a group is working on the same presentation, they can each be connected and edit the same presentation. There’s also a space for a lot of creativity, to explore through trial and error.”

Language arts teacher Tara Mann used the new space for a heritage project that combined lessons from literature and cultural studies. “We had groups collaborating, another utilizing the computers to view photos and analyze them, and others building biographies related to the cultures they studied,” she said. “Finding out what life was like in another time would have probably taken a lot longer, but in this space, we had cohesive collaboration to create quickly.”

The new space also gives media specialists, counselors and career coaches room to host guest speakers who come in person or visit via Skype to meet with students and give advice on projects. But perhaps no one enjoys the center as much as the kids, said Hargrett.

“They love having access to such a place,” she said. “Teachers have even commented that they behave differently there; they take on a more professional behavior during class there. And that’s something we love to see.”

The FedEx employees recently made another contribution to the school: $5,000 to purchase a 3-D printer and additional supplies.

“In the spring, our seventh grade students are working on a project to make a prosthetic arm, and the winner will get to print a 3-D version,” said Hargrett. “Having that machine will allow students to make their own designs in any material and see the results of their hard work.”

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