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This throwback picture was in The Ballston Journal 3 years ago when the group first started at Tec-Smart!

This throwback picture was in The Ballston Journal 3 years ago when the group first started at Tec-Smart!

This throwback picture was in The Ballston Journal 3 years ago when the group first started at Tec-Smart!

Christian Hines, EMC Staff Writer

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Tec-Smart as a junior has been a fantastic experience so far this year. I now attend the Tec-Smart program every weekday. I go for the first half of the day and then I go to Galway for the second half of my day.  At Tec-Smart I have chosen to go down the Entrepreneurship Pathway meaning that I am taking classes that are helping me to achieve an associate’s degree in entrepreneurship from HVCC. This semester I am taking college marketing and college entrepreneurship. In the spring semester I will take college pre-calc and college computer concepts and applications. These are the most interesting classes I have ever taken in school. Since Tec-Smart is part of ECHS you have the opportunity to take college classes in the field of study that interests you allowing you to get ahead of your classmates. At the end of this year alone I will have 12 college credits. The rest of my friends at Galway most likely will have zero. With this being said, Tec-Smart is a great opportunity to propel yourself above the rest due to the variety of classes and opportunities provided to you.

At Tec-Smart, we have an unconventional schedule that I find works very well for me. I only take high school classes three days out of the week and the other two days I have my college classes. This provides a great balance to my already busy schedule. Everyone at Tec-Smart takes three high school classes. These classes include Applied Mathematics in Clean Technology, Environmental Science and Sustainability, and English 11. The schedule for these classes is not what you may think. Most people think of classes as being 45 minutes of one class then there is a bell and you switch the next class. At Tec-Smart, there is one classroom and three teachers. All of the subjects work together as one cohesive unit just like the teachers. All of the three subjects merge together as one and the assignments for each class work toward a common goal or project.

An example of this is an infographic that we had to make to show how to use bioenergy in an effort to replace fossil fuels and slow global warming. This was the big goal or final project. For two weeks we had a variety of assignments. One was about understanding the carbon cycle and how much carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere and the effect that this has on ice melting in the North Pole. Another assignment was calculating trends in the data that we found on graphs about carbon dioxide emissions. Our assignment is to find sources and information to use on the infographic and write an annotated bibliography. All of these assignments are preparing us to make the bioenergy infographic. The first assignment is for the science class, the second was for math, and the third assignment went with English. This structure is very effective.

Also at Tec-Smart there is much more freedom, meaning that you are not sitting in class listening to a teacher all day. Instead you are given directions with a little bit of guidance and then sent on your way to work independently where you choose. Most students go out into the atrium to work and discuss with friends while also snacking. This freedom is something that you don’t get in high school, and at Tec-Smart it is normal. There are days I go to Tec-Smart, get direction and listen to a teacher speak for half an hour and then for the next two hours I am sent off to work independently or in a group.

This program is giving me a sense of what college life is like. There is no teacher hovering over me making sure I submit work on time. It is up to you to get the work done and manage the time effectively while at Tec-Smart. We also have simple routines that were established on day one. These routines are that of a typical college student. Every morning someone is expected to go to the front of the classroom to set up the news on the projector so that the whole class can watch CNN Student News. Every morning it is important to watch CNN Student News for ten minutes to give us a sense of what is going on in the world. We go a step further than just watching the news. Once a student sets up the news and we watch it, they lead the class in a discussion about what we just heard. The goal is to come up with a solution to fix a problem that we observed on the news. For instance we brainstormed ways to improve the situation in Puerto Rico where Hurricane Maria occurred. This could be anything from coming up with innovative ways to get these people water, or provide shelter and resources to the stranded. More ideas could include building hurricane proof houses. Critical thinking is a huge part of Tec-Smart. Other good habits we develop are logging onto our computers right away and checking our assignments in Canvas as well as in our HVCC email to see if we have gotten any emails from our professors.

Lastly, Tec-Smart is a great place to be inspired. For instance, when making the infographics, business partners came to talk to us about our infographics individually and give us feedback on improvements to make. On October 3rd, we got to attend a one hour panel discussion that included three entrepreneurs. Each person talked to us about their journey of identifying a problem and figuring out a way to solve this problem. I learned that this is one of the first steps in the entrepreneurial process. It is also important to be passionate about what you are trying to accomplish or you will never succeed. For instance, there was a man on the panel that came up with a new training bat used to improve kids’ bunting strategies. This man is a baseball coach who is passionate about the game. He recognized that all coaches are teaching the kids how to bunt at different angles and kids can never remember how to bunt because it is not practiced often. This man put a device similar to a level in the bat that will light up and tell the angle that the player is bunting so they will create muscle memory on how to properly bunt. This man has been trying to make this bat for five years. In these five years he got a patent for his design and has partnered with engineers who are working on making the product correctly. He emphasized that this process is a lot of hard work and to be an entrepreneur you have to be very driven and focused. He said that when meeting with his patent lawyer, he was charged $450 an hour. He said that he always had all of his questions written down ahead of time because that is one expensive phone call. He has already put $3,000 into the bat. The mold to make the bats is going to cost anywhere from $77,000 to $120,000. This is one expensive investment, but he is eventually going to have to make it if he wants to see if his bat idea become a reality. It is important to realize that there is a lot of risk involved in being an entrepreneur but the rewards can be great if you put all you have into your product or idea. Overall, Tec-Smart challenges me and inspires me to do great things in the future.

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