ENID, Okla. — Chaos magic didn’t create the Scarlet Witch’s crown in the Enid High School fabrication lab.
While preparing for the upcoming fall semester, EHS teacher Christopher Parker instead had 3D printed the headpiece worn by Elizabeth Olsen in the “Wandavision” Marvel Cinematic Universe miniseries.
Parker had input computer-aided models he’d measured from TV screenshots, then sent to be printed using thermoplastic material on one of the classroom’s 12 current 3D printers.
But like the powerful Wanda Maximoff, Parker said of the so-called “fab lab,” “It’s quite literally, ‘If you can imagine it, you can create it.’
With initial funding from Air Force STEM programs, EHS students in Parker’s class have for the last two years learned to design and build artistic creations such as figures ranging from a 3-foot-tall Mario to the characters from MCU.
The Nintendo video game character model took a week to print in the fab lab.
Next fall, the high school will add an introductory course and a second hour of the year-long fab, after Parker said said over 200 students had signed up to take the year-long fab lab.
The semester-long intro class will teach the basics of design software, the printers and the other technology in the lab.
Parker will also teach another new course in the fall, expanding on the EHS esports program that’s swelled in student participation since it also began several years ago.
Esports is now an extracurricular alongside the other major sports, Parker said, with students traveling to or hosting multiple competitions next year.
The class, Gaming Concepts, will run semester-long with 24 students in each of the two courses. Over 110 students had signed up, Parker said, adding that the class goes “hand-in-hand” with the esports program.
Kids will learn the fundamentals of video gaming such as online etiquette, team-building, nutrition and physical fitness, and how to build a PC.
“I hit jackpot on these classes, I guess,” he said.
From point A to point B
Parker’s new classes were among several changes made to Enid Public Schools’s recently approved registration guides for secondary students in the 2021-2022 school year.
The newly added Media and Fine Arts Pathway is meant to codify, through the promise of hands-on coursework, the multiple career paths that secondary students can begin walking while still in the thick of school.
The pathway includes two branched paths: Parker’s introductory fab lab and gaming classes, both requiring a 3D modeling course; and a media production track starting in EPS middle schools that leads to the production course for EPS Vision.
“To me, it’s a roadmap. It’s how to follow (that career),” said Kitty Herbel, the district’s STEAM coordinator who led the map-making this past school year. “This is the world of making.”
Herbal said the pathway was created so students and their counselors can see the progression from the middle school, to EHS, to Autry Technology Center, then eventually college and professional careers.
Autry Technology Center is set to offer a new fabrication lab facility and program this fall, while Parker said colleges like Oklahoma State University has a fab lab and other “maker spaces” in libraries.
Parker himself sells the pieces he personally 3D prints to character cosplayers, while at the other end of the spectrum, engineers can 3D print bridges, cars and medical devices.
EPS media production specialist Mark Ray, who taught EPS Vision and broadcast production for six years, said three of his former students are currently pursuing careers in TV broadcasting.
Students in EPS Vision film district events such as sports games, graduation ceremonies, board meetings and Monday morning announcements for the district’s TV channel, EPStv
“What we need to teach them how to do is how to frame (a video) and what makes it look nice,” Ray said. “Kids know how to hold a camera, by and large.”
Cleaning up the middle schools
Media and production classes have been taught at the high school since EPS Vision began six years ago, when the district took over channel 19 from the city of Enid’s now-defunct PEGASYS network.
But Herbel said the middle schools’ media programs hadn’t all been official courses before.
Instead, some were part of after-school extracurriculars or taught inside another class, she said.
Students starting from sixth grade can take pre-existing, semester-long technology courses ahead of a media production course now will be offered at all three EPS middle schools.
At least one pre-existing technology course offered will be required to take the media class, along with teacher referral.
Dudley Darrow, EPS assistant superintendent of secondary education, said around five teachers have been reassigned within schools to handle the middle school course.
“Every site’s being treated equal,” Darrow said of the new course. “There’s no discrepancy from Longfellow to Emerson to Waller. That’s one thing we needed to clean up, because we weren’t doing that last year.”
The media course would then bypass an EHS course required for students to then take either digital communication or advanced broadcast production, the latter then feeding into EPS Vision.
Full-time EHS teacher Daniel Baker, who had taught computer science and biology, will take over the broadcast courses next year as Ray takes on more district-wide projects.
A related secondary technology pathway, also approved last week, will also officially feed students from the middle school’s technology courses into computer sciences essentials course, which leads to computer programming classes and a new cybersecurity class.
“It’s a lot of moving parts,” Darrow said. “You got these techie kids … It’s not just one pathway — it’s not just, ‘I want to be a computer programmer.’”