Noblesville students present to Google, Facebook

Photo courtesy WISH- TV

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) – A teacher in Noblesville has an amazingly ambitious goal.

“We are going to change education,” says Don Wettrick. “I’m not going to accept anything less.”

Change belongs on his business card. He is the Innovation Coordinator at Noblesville High School. Learning new things is expected of his students.

The students find their interests and passions, and turn those passions into class projects.

“It really lets us be ourselves,” said Cassidy Uhl.

The Noblesville junior said the innovations class approach allows students to “be ourselves and show him the value of our work rather than him assigning the value to our work.”

Wettrick says, in that way, the students “take charge of their own education. They take charge of their own learning. And we work backward from that.”

In the present class, several students are developing apps. One is developing a new educational toy.  Another is working on a proposal for the Noblesville City Council. Wettrick said teaching innovation requires him to be a project manager, a public relations specialist, a venture capitalist and a travel agent.

The travel part of the job took the students to California, last month. Wettrick took them to meet with connections at Facebook, Google and other technically advanced companies. The students even made a presentation at Stanford University.

Wettrick said the Noblesville team made an impression on their college counterparts. The Stanford students realized they are writing essay questions about things the central Indiana kids are actually doing for themselves.

Noblesville Junior Zack Baker said the innovation class “opened my mind and I think a lot of the students’ minds to, sort of like, what’s possible – which we didn’t really see before.”

Wettrick said because of technology, people in central Indiana can work with — and learn from — people anywhere.  He also contends this model could work in inner city schools to help students who don’t respond to learning in traditional classroom settings.  They will see their ideas have value and they can learn while having fun.  That’s part of what he’s seen by watching his students.

“The crazy thing is, if I offered this class on a Saturday, they’d show up,” he said.

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