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ADST at UA: Robots, Animation, and Creativity Run Wild


Technology is constantly changing the world around us. As students move out of their high school experience, and into the real world, they need to be prepared for whatever advancements come their way. Urban Academy is staying on the cutting edge of the changing times with our programs that provide an outlet for the endless creativity and tech learning.

Mr. McCully-Hayden is leading the technological charge for upper-middle and senior students at UA, ensuring the Makerspace is a hub for creativity and invention. With a room full of 3D printers, coding software, and animation programs readily available for use both within and outside of the classroom, there is always something new and exciting happening. It’s all part of the senior Arts, Design, Skills and Technology Curriculum, or ADST, which students at various grades experience every day at UA.

Running through all of the programs is a heavy dose of creative agency. Projects are often designed to give students the skills they need to create projects with the software they are learning and to let their imaginations run wild. The focus often starts with a real-world problem and creating a solution. Mr. McCully-Hayden notes that those are often the projects that students respond to most. “My projects are very open. The students get to decide where they want to go with it and I think those projects are the most fun for them.”

A highlight for both students and Mr. McCully-Hayden is the projects using the 3D printer, where using software, students can design and build their own projects and develop the technical ability to see an idea turn into reality. “I think the freedom they have in going from idea to a product and actually seeing it be made is their favourite part,” said Mr. McCully-Harden.

Mr. McCully-Hayden emphasises the imperfect nature of technology; sometimes projects structurally fail, but in that failure, they learn why and how they can improve next time. This experience is just as important and part of the process as finding success. UA students are resilient, and they know how to learn from these kinds of shortcomings, and try again!.

ADST is sequential and each class builds on the previous to provide students with a broad palette of skills and competencies. This aligns well with the BC Education Curriculum, which encourages students to learn through making, testing, and sharing as they learn new skills.

They have shown particular pride in their artistic achievements through Media Arts, like Anya in Grade 10 who created incredibly realistic and creative drawings of human eyes using the graphic design software Canva. For younger students in Grades 6 and 7, the broader ADST program means working creatively with building and coding robotics and testing them in their small arenas. Younger students also create video games and animation with the Scratch Animation program.

“Some students really enjoy making a video game where they can have numerous controls and it can be more interactive. There are other students who are maybe more arts-focused and less programming focused, so they would rather focus on animation where they’re spending time drawing different things and the programming is a little simpler” said Mr. McCully-Hayden.

The horizon is expanding for technology and the one thing we can be certain of is that it will continue to change in the years to come. However, another thing we know is that Urban Academy Students are well versed in learning new things, being challenged, making mistakes, and getting back up again to try something innovative and new. As a result, they will have the skills, resiliency, and creativity to take on that unknown future ahead of them.

?: Ms: Jean