DeKalb New Tech

Professional, Authentic, Relevant

Winners! 2018 Indiana ArcGIS Online Competition

9th Grade World Bio, Facilitators:  Christina Lapham & Kelsey Pierce

Community Partners:  Matt Bechdol & Dawn Mason

DeKalb High School New Tech World Bio freshmen won the 2018 Indiana ArcGIS Online Competition, “Place Matters: Exploring Hoosier Communities in Story Maps”.  Throughout the project, students explored how people and places start primary and GIS Winnersbecome extraordinary.  Each group chose a topic that spotlighted characteristics of Indiana world geography and/or biology.  Creating digital story maps using ESRI ArcGIS software, the students conveyed research with written material and digital maps.  To add to the authenticity of the project, students were mentored by and collaborated with local GIS professionals, Matt Bechdol and Dawn Mason.  Winning groups explored a wide variety of topics from Indiana basketball and diminishing bee populations to Indiana bats and the history of Indiana vice presidents.  The Geography Educators’ Network of Indiana (GENI) hosted the statewide competition and awarded $100.00 Amazon gift cards to each group.  The state finalists are entered into the national ArcGIS Online US School Competition.  National winners are announced on June 4th and earn a travel grant to attend the ESRI Education GIS Conference in San Diego, California.  To see all five winning entries please go to

Cedar Creek Anthology

Originally posted on 1/26/18 on New Tech Network’s blog:

Project Spotlight: Cedar Creek Anthology

January 26, 2018

Dekalb New Tech

Teachers: Cindy Boyd and Briana Schrock

Course: Media Lit 

Grade: 10

Driving Question:

How do we inform others in our community about our history?

 Project Snapshot

The Cedar Creek Anthology Project began with a trip to Woodlawn/Roselawn Cemeteries in Auburn, Indiana with a local county historian. The students learned about stories of DeKalb County’s past and chose an individual to research.

The next few weeks were spent in the classroom researching their chosen citizens. In addition to utilizing online sources and the local library, several students took the initiative to contact living relatives to conduct interviews.

Students also participated in several acting lessons during their weeks of research. These sessions really pushed on the comfort zone of many of the students yet enabled them to see the relevance of assuming the true intentions of the citizens of their county.  Each student began to understand that this original performance piece would be so much more than simply presenting the information to an audience.  They quickly began to research time period clothing, shoes, and accessories in an effort to provide the most accurate portrayal possible.

Performances were held at the prestigious Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, Indiana, a hub for the local community.  This building once housed the automobile manufacturing company for these extravagant period cars.  A part of this historical establishment’s mission is to provide the community with authentic, engaging and educational offerings; thus, it served as the perfect backdrop to the  performances highlighting the lives of so many of DeKalb County’s influential citizens.

 Student Products 

  • Research document on local historical individual
  • Original performance piece for school, parents, and community

Teacher Reflections

“Initially, the kids weren’t too certain about taking a field trip to the cemetery; however, once we arrived and they started hearing the stories of DeKalb County’s past, their excitement began to build.  They were calling out names and letting us know that these specific people were the ones they wanted to research.  From that point on, both student buy-in and engagement were phenomenal.  We never had to push them or try to reign them back in; instead, they took the lead and the excitement continued to build.”

“We were impressed with the perseverance of the students as many of them had chosen to research people on whom there was very little published information. In addition to utilizing online sources and the local library, several students took the initiative to contact living relatives to conduct interviews.”

“Overall, our students far exceeded our intentions as they rose time and again to each new challenge they were handed.  A surprising result of all of this was the challenges they issued to us as their teachers as well.  Working alongside one another, this quickly became a student-driven project that brought us all together.”


The teachers used the NTN High School Oral and Grade 10 Written Communication Rubrics.

Student Reflections

“Completing Cedar Creek Anthology with the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum was an eye-opening experience for me. It made me realize how so many normal small town people can play such a significant part in the world. Being limited to just DeKalb County at first seemed challenging; it was intimidating to pick someone who not only was connected to the county but also relatable to us. After a long process of research, writing, and rehearsing, it all came together in the end by presenting it to our friends, family, community, and the workers of the ACD Museum.” — Tianna Freeman

“The project we did at the ACD Automobile Museum connected the past with the present to create an incomparable experience. It extended the limits of oral communication and presentations. We captivated ourselves in the stories and lives we created and studied. Furthermore, we invited the audience to join us on our journey. It challenged us to expand our vocabulary so that we could build the environment of their lives solely out of our words. With the freedom of choosing who we wanted to portray, we had the chance to pick someone who related to us on a personal level. The connection between us and our characters was important for the presentation. Overall this project was beyond compare.” — Caitlynn Shipe

“DeKalb’s New Tech Program gives its students many opportunities while they are in high school. It runs many different projects, each uniquely influential to the students. So far the most impactful project we’ve gone through would be our A.C.D. Wax Figures project. This project had us choose an individual from DeKalb County that was extremely influential, then portray that person at the A.C.D. Museum. By having our own say on who we portrayed, the project allowed all of us students connect to our individuals. I was fortunate enough to portray Will Cuppy, author of How to be a Hermit and many more pieces of literature. By portraying Cuppy, I felt that I grew as a reader because of his diversity in works. This project allowed students to feel more whole as a community by discovering some of our history. Some of us even got to meet family members of these individuals as well as people alive today who are extremely influential to DeKalb County.” — Xander Clemons.

Duck Hunting with Congruent Triangles

Geometry ~ Mrs. Baughman
Did you know that geometry comes in handy when duck hunting?  Students in New Tech IMG_0568Geometry used a method that was first used by Thales, a Greek philosopher, to calculate the distance to their target ducks using congruent triangles.  Students used a compass made out of meter sticks, measuring tapes and collaboration to work to find the exact distances of the ducks they were hunting on the football field.  The students created  congruent triangles on the east side of the band tower and bleachers to calculate the distance to the ducks. The essential understanding was “If two triangles are congruent, then you know that every pair of their corresponding parts is also congruent.”
Sophomore, Russell Hepler shared, “I think this project went really well and was a lot of fun. What went well was our communication img_0563.jpgskills; I feel we communicated well to each other and I thought it was fun trying to get past the confusion.”  Sophomore, Sam Steck also enjoyed the activity.  He shared, “It was a fun and engaging activity.  Everyone seemed motivated and worked the whole time.  Solving the problem was a fun and interesting task.”
Although the students thought some things could be improved, Hepler stated, “It was a blast trying to find the right angles and length.  I think this project can only go upwards from here.”

“I Am Who I Am”

Student Bloggers:  Nahla Namasté, Hannah Wilson & Caitlynn Shipe, grade 10

Media Lit Facilitators:  Mrs. Boyd and Ms. Schrock

IMG_1542The first Media Lit project to start the 2017 school year was a project which revolved  around the website Membean, a tool used to help students expand and master their vocabulary. In this project we were to pick a word from Membean and use it to describe ourselves to others so they can learn more about who we are. An outstanding example of an idea for this project was Nahla Namasté’s project entitled Abstract.   “For my project I chose the word abstract, partially because I love to use my imagination and partially because I enjoy the freedom of creativity. The mind is such a beautiful FullSizeRender (10)gift, and I want to use it to my best advantage. I chose to advocate myself and my word through art. I created a sketch that showed not only emotion but also wonder. I appreciated this project because I had the opportunity to create something to which I can relate. In addition, speaking in front of an audience not once but twice really helped me to grow as both a student and as a steward of my own learning.” The beginning of Nahla’s speech started as, “ Most people think of art or sculptures when they hear the word abstract, but what about an abstract person? I’m not talking about Picasso, but someone who is detached from physical or concrete reality. Mentally, I am an abstract painting. I have lines of thought, values of ideas, and colors of creativity painted into my mind like a masterpiece hanging in an art museum.”

Another example would be Hannah Wilson’s project entitled The Crown.   FullSizeRender (9)  “For this project I chose the word acme which means ‘the highest power of its existence.’ I chose this word to represent that I am finally becoming the highest power of my life and taking control of myself. I used an example of a time in my life when I wasn’t taking control and didn’t try in school which caused me to fail a class. I also included a quote from my teacher to depict her pride in me because I am now trying and becoming successful. I have reached new heights.  This project helped me a lot with giving presentations in front of a group of people. It also helped me to learn how my peers identify themselves.”  Overall, this project was an amazing way to start off the year and to help us students get to know our peers in a way we might not have before.

Finally, Caitlynn Shipe’s project entitled Lucidity describes a clear-headed, sensible, and rational thinker. People who are lucid possess the ability to understand things simply IMG_5175and accurately. A physical way of representing the word lucid is a clear object, like the jar shown above. Caitlynn best explains her project in her own words.  “I used this jar to show my mind and what is in it. In your head lies your interests and thoughts but, most importantly, it is home to what makes you, you–your brain. Your brain is constantly learning and growing like a plant. I included flowers in my jar to portray my ever-growing mind. I love to expand my vocabulary and explore my imagination. By incorporating a miniature book in my project, I am showing that books are the epitome of just that for me. The soccer ball that can be seen exemplifies that, by playing this game, I am very versatile and can adapt quickly. The chess piece expresses my logic-based thinking process.  I can analyze a problem and find the best solution that makes the most sense. Finally, a cross is located at the top of the jar to represent my faith, which is above everything else. Through this project, I have discovered that all of these items illustrate lucidity in my mind.”

Students created a variety of Membean projects–school bags, T-shirts, sketches, repurposed tennis shoes, clay figures, Lego vehicles and creative performances–as a way to kick off the beginning of the year with Membean.  Community partners were brought in to judge not only the projects but also the speeches.  Awards were given for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places as well as honorable mention.  Membean generously donated T-shirts and beanies to give to the winners.  

And the Winner Is…

All 9th Grade Project incorporating Consumer Communications and World Bio content, while focusing on communication, collaboration, and agency.

Facilitators:  Mrs. Evans, Mrs. Lapham, Ms. Pierce, and Ms. Van Straten

For a second year, DeKalb New Tech’s incoming freshmen explored the labels attached to their generation, Generation Z, and presented 4 year collaborative action plans to help them maximize their time at Dekalb High School and break free from the stereotype, “Generation La-Z”.  Community business partners such as Jeremiah Otis of Jeremiah’s Brewed Awakenings, Chris Straw of Team Quality Services, Nicole Heffelfinger of the Indiana Small Business Development Center and Anton King of DeKalb County Economic Development helped kick off the project by promoting the importance of acquiring and mastering 21st century skills like collaboration, work ethic, and written and oral communication.

A preliminary panel of judges comprised of DeKalb Middle School and DeKalb High School administrators listened to the student presentations and chose four of the twelve student groups to move on to the final presentation panel consisting of community partners, Jeremiah Otis and Anton King, as well as DeKalb High School New Tech Director, Kelly Renier.  The winning team included Matthias Rowe, Ian Heimann, Haley Henderson, Samantha Bertsch, and Isaiah Littrell.  The students are eligible for a $100 scholarship cash prize sponsored by the Community Foundation of DeKalb County payable upon graduation from DeKalb High School so long as they carry out and put into action the plan.  

2nd Annual GenDIY Project Winners 2017

Pictured from left to right: Jeremiah Otis of Jeremiah’s Brewed Awakenings, Ian Heimann, Isaiah Littrell, Samantha Bertsch, Haley Henderson, Matthias Rowe, Anton King Executive Director of DeKalb County Economic Development, Kelly Renier Director of DeKalb New Tech

Generation DIY – Project Launch

August 1, 2017, marked the first day of the new school year.  The DNT freshmen facilitators rolled out a project on the first day of school called Generation DIY.  Four community partners participated in the project rollout, speaking to the students about the importance of the choices you make now and how they impact your future.


Driving Question: How do we maximize our time at DHS to break free from the stereotype, ‘Generation La-Z’?

Goal:  Student groups develop an action plan for the next four years to make Generation Z successful and prepared upon graduation at DeKalb High School.  Students must incorporate collaboration, agency, oral communication, and project based learning in the plan.  Students must make the action plan memorable, applicable, and unique!


Final Product:  Student groups create an action plan consisting of 4 proposals that any Generation Z’er can apply to their life in order to maximize time at DHS as well as prepare for future endeavors.  Preliminary action plan presentations take place to DHS teams.  Finalists present to the DeKalb County Economic Development Team.

Community Partners:  Nicole Heffelfinger, Anton King, Jeremiah Otis, and Chris Straw


Outcome:  The winning students will receive a $100 cash scholarship prize per person to use after graduation so long as the student can prove application of the action plan during 4 years at DeKalb High School.

Culminating Event:  Individually, students will create a written piece, encompassing the action plan, that serves as a time capsule to be opened during senior year of high school.

DeKalb History Day: Taking a Stand in History

9th Grade World Bio, facilitators: Christina Lapham & Kelsey Pierce

11th Grade American Studies, facilitators:  Andy Comfort & Tim Murdock

Historically, how have people taken risks to change the world we live in today?  That was the question that provided the driving force for DeKalb New Tech’s first annual history day event.  On Friday, February 17, 2017 DeKalb High School New Tech hosted 30 community members, historians, librarians, administrators, and university professors as judges to critique all of the projects as students finalize entries for the National History Day Regional Competition on Saturday, February 25th at St. Mary’s College in South Bend.  National History Day is an academic competition with a focus on history and aims at engaging young people in the art of historical inquiry. Students that place in the top 25% of the project category are eligible for State competition in May in Indianapolis.  From there, he/she may qualify for the National History Day competition in Maryland.  Students create project entries in the form of exhibits, research papers, documentaries, websites, and performances.  DeKalb High School will be entering students in all categories of the competition with entry titles such as, “Puttin on the Ritz with Elizabeth Arden”, “E.L. Cord’s Economic Empire”, and “Aldofo Kaminsky: A Free Forger”.  DeKalb History Day consisted of a total of 52 projects and 102 students.  A special thanks to all the judges: Dr. Tony Kline, Joan Eardly, Tarah Brennan, Samuel  Miller,  Jordan Blank,  Riley Larkin, Cathy Vick, Jerry Zonker, Sharon Zonker, Megan Moss, Roy Martin, Jean Wells, Pam Reynolds, Matt Toth, Marcus Wagner, Lisa Conrad,  Kevin Allison, Jan Hewitt, Jamie Briley, Andrew Bigelow, Amy Neal, Steve Teders, Carol Fike, Lori Vaughn, Julia Tipton, Wade Buchs, Kelly Renier, Matt Vince, Matt Whonsetler,  and Sherry Crisp-Ridge.  Please stay tuned for the results from Saturday’s Regional Competition in South Bend.


Freshman World Bio student Caitlynn Shipe prepares her exhibit Nixing Nixon for DeKalb History Day Judging.


Freshmen World Bio students Koral Alvord and Rachel Ramon receive feedback regarding their National History Day website entry from Dr. Anthony Kline, Dean of the Franks School of Education at Trine University, and Tara Brennen, Student of the Franks School of Education at Trine University.

Freshman World Bio student Madison Camp receives feedback regarding her National History Day paper entry from DeKalb Teacher Carol Fike, DeKalb New Tech Director Kelly Renier, and Jan Hewitt of the Eckhart Public Library.

Special thank you to all DeKalb History Day judges! Back row Left to Right: Andrew Bigelow, Wade Buchs, Matt Vince, Steve Teders, Lori Vaughn, Sherry Crisp-Ridge, Matt Whonsetler, Carol Fike, Roy Martin, Sam Miller, Jordan Blank. Front Row Left to Right: Julia Tipton, Jan Hewitt, Amy Neal, Lisa Conrad, Joan Eardly, Riley Larkin, Tara Brennan, Pam Reynolds, Cathy Vick, Megan Moss, Dr. Anthony Kline, and Kelly Renier.

Considering My Career Path Because of the Case of Baron Bank

Student Blogger:  Madison Camp, 9th grader

Consumer Communications Facilitators:  Mrs. Evans and Ms. Van Straten

As New Tech Barons, we go to different places in the community and present the projectimg_6332 that we have been researching. We do this to interact with people of the community and show the people of DeKalb county what we have been working on. In my Consumer Communications class, a mix between Business and English, we have been working on a mock trial. This trial is called The Baron Bank Trial. As we began this new project, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it until halfway through. Using my opinion and finding evidence that it was, in fact, true and persuading the jury that my client was not being paid fairly, was difficult yet fun.

The day of the trial, as I walked into the courtroom, I felt excitement, a kind of excitement that I had never felt before. I was so intrigued about the designs on the walls, the intensity of the trial that was going to happen, not knowing who was going to win, the history of past cases that were held in this exact courtroom, and the passion for wanting to learn more. Later that night, I thought about the trial and how happy I was when we won.

Being mixed in many different career choices, I still didn’t know if this was what I wanted to do until the next day. The day after our mock trial we toured the courthouse. I walked into the huge, stunning building and felt the same excitement. Listening to the lawyer who was giving us the tour and talking about the cases he has done made me want to learn more. I realized then that this is what I want to do. I want to be a part of the criminal career track. When the lawyer said he was willing to do a job shadow, my heart jumped. I was extremely excited and wanted to get right to work on finding out how I could. This experience that DeKalb New Tech gave me has been exciting, and I can’t wait to learn more.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Reflections: Start Primary, Become Extraordinary

Special Guest Blogger, Andrew Bigelow – Instructional Coach

How do you start primary and become extraordinary?  This is the project title and driving question that DeKalb New Tech WorldBio students have been addressing for the past four weeks.  In order to attack this question students were tasked with two key benchmarks during the project.  The first included an impressive integration of Biology and World Geography content as students first identified a megacity (over 10 million in population) from around the world.  With their megacity chosen, students were then challenged to create analogies relating 17 organelles and parts of a cell to various parts of their megacity.  Did you know that the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro is the mitochondria of the cell in that it acts as the cell powerhouse involved in all things energy?  How about in London where the Queen acts as the cytoskeleton that provides a shape and structure for the cell?  What about Buckingham Palace serving as the nucleus of London as a monument to government recognized around the world?  These are just a few of the many analogies created by students as they fused both Biology and Geography content into an engaging opening benchmark.  As a student who loved Social Studies but not so much Science, I could not help but think that I would have enjoyed my experience much more through an engaging content integration such as this during my own high school experience!  

As if students were not busy enough with their cell megacities, benchmark two challenged students to participate in the creation of a DeKalb County placebook focused on “trends” and “tributes.”  Students were first invited to a think tank attended by 14 community members  with extensive insight into the history and people that molded DeKalb County.  Using GIS software, students created presentations ranging from music venues, places to eat, wifi hotspots, and even Poke stops throughout DeKalb County.  Tributes to DeKalb County highlighted the contributions and lives of Gordon Buehrig and EL Cord.  The GIS maps created by WorldBio students will become a placebook for DeKalb County that can be housed for future individuals to learn more about the history of and what DeKalb County has to offer on the journey to “Starting Primary and Becoming Extraordinary.”

The final presentations were made at Eckhart Public Library before community members and representatives from the original project think tank.  Throughout the presentations students referenced the project title and driving question to “Start Primary and Become Extraordinary” multiple times as they showcased their learning of megacities, GIS software, and DeKalb County.   Some students hinted at a new interest into possible future work with GIS and career options while others appreciated the challenge of relating cell organelles to parts of a megacity.  These takeaways for students will undoubtedly provide enduring understandings for years to come made possible through this authentic and unique project based learning experience.  As one community partner mentioned at the final presentations “Geography offers a way to tell a story.”  This time that story included the history of DeKalb County, megacities around the world, and cell structure in a way that will be useful far beyond the last four weeks of study.

Website Powered by

Up ↑