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Robots, circuit boards and digital cadavers mark highlights of student-led exposition

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Aubrianna Littier, a senior at the Health & Science School, shows off a digital autopsy table during iX19. To the right, student Caden Rinell helps answer questions. In an entryway wall of Aloha High School, a poster with a hand-scrawled quote greets students.

"We don't need it to be easy, we just need it to be possible," the poster reads. It's a quote from motivational speaker Timothy Alexander.

A few hundred feet away, students from across Beaverton School District showcased projects and equipment last Thursday, May 16 during the district's innovation expo, known as iX19.

Demonstration booths filled nearly every common area of the Aloha campus.

Toward the entrance, Aloha High School graphic design students showed off geometric patterns and renderings made in Adobe Draw using a handful of iPad tablets. They've also got rubber stamps made with one of their school's 3D printers.

PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Melanie Martinez, a Vose Elementary School student, controls sounds on a circuit board for her group project, The Dark Side. Martinez and other students in the Beaverton School District demonstrated projects during the iX19 Innovation Expo held May 16.Inside a cafeteria turned expo hall, Vose Elementary School student Melanie Martinez adjusts control knobs on a rudimentary circuit board atop a shoebox. The knobs create the audio backdrop for her audio/visual group project, "The Dark Side."

Through a pair of headphones, whirling wind and howling, or what Martinez refers to as "monster sounds" are emitted via the circuit board, as observers peer into a hand-crafted monster scene.

Teachers at Vose say their school's leadership has encouraged students and teachers to delve into technology-driven projects.

Students learn to code and make circuit boards just a few years after they've learned to spell and tie their shoes.

"With Vose being a STEAM school, we really push it and make it a priority," said Robin Fong, a fourth grade teacher at Vose. "We have people that believe in it and support it. Technology is going to be a part of our students' future."

Engineering and technology may very well be part of their future, but by all accounts, iX19 showed that Beaverton students are already full immersed in it.PMG PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Eric Demcak watches a flurry of robots march around a booth during an iX19 Innovation Expo at Aloha High School.

Highland Park students showed off an electric bicycle they made into a library transport vehicle that the school now uses to transport books and computers from the library to classrooms throughout campus.

It makes sense for the school district to align itself with the employment landscape of Washington County-Oregon's tech hub. BSD prides itself on its Future Ready school programs, which strive to integrate technology and digital learning into curriculum.

Twins Ethan and Connor Owen, both seniors at Beaverton's Health and Science magnet school, noted they've been in an engineering pathway "since eighth grade."

"We already have 30 college credits," the students said in unison.

Their school houses an estimated $80,000 digital autopsy table that allows pre-medical high school students to explore every layer of the human body using a digital light table and a simulated cadaver.

For the Owens, it's not a question of whether they'll pursue engineering-based careers, it's just a matter of exactly where they'll land.

"It's really cool, the trade-offs you get, compared to a normal high school," Connor Owen said.

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