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Last weekend, a select group of Georgia Cyber Academy (GCA) students experienced a Georgia Tech Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) opportunity at Hands on Future Tech.

The event aimed to make STEM disciplines and concepts understandable and applicable to a student’s everyday life. It included guest speakers, parent sessions, and a career panel that provided information on STEM careers. Students also participated in hands-on STEM demonstrations with college students, faculty, and industry professionals.

This middle school outreach program was open to students in grades 6-8.  Only a few students from each school around the area chosen.  GCA mother Susan Edwards was surprised when her son Caleb was chosen to attend.

“I signed Caleb up as soon as I found out about the event and he was so excited that he made the cut,” Susan said.

She is grateful that GCA offered an opportunity for Caleb to participate in an experience like this hands-on event.

“Being a gifted student means more challenging work,” Susan said. “It is hard for a sixth grade boy to see beyond the work of learning new skills to the amazing things he can do once he masters them.  This event gave him a glimpse of what he could be doing with those skills in the future, and he loved every minute of it.”

This is Caleb’s third year at GCA. He is qualified as 2e which means twice exceptional.  In his brick-and-mortar school, his learning disability caused school administration to overlook his intelligence.

“He wasn’t challenged intellectually, and he struggled to make it through the day without getting in trouble for squirming, fidgeting, and getting distracted in a way that led to uncompleted work,” Susan said. “Now, he is taking classes above his grade level, and his learning disability is easily accommodated by GCA.  GCA was able to look at Caleb’s giftedness and his learning disability as two separate things that didn’t have to be mutually exclusive.  He is allowed to be smart and to have a learning disability.”

Caleb said that he enjoyed the color-changing polymer demonstration the most during the hands-on tech event. He has a big interest in technology, especially robotics.

“It was really fun to meet with other kids in middle school,” Caleb said. “The professors and graduate students who ran the demonstrations were really nice and they explained what they were doing really well.  They even participated in some of them, like in the color-changing lab, and they picked three students out of my group to spray some of the color changing polymer on the glass.”

Caleb hopes to become a Disney Imagineer, where he will use technology every day in his career.
“This event definitely inspired me further,” Caleb said. “It gave me lots of ideas about stuff I could use on rides in my job in the future.

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