New England’s Gigabit High School

Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 4.39.14 PMBurlington High School sophomores Forest Elliot and William Sutton and representatives from Partnership for Change joined Mayor Miro Weinberger at a press conference announcing BTV Ignite, Burlington’s partnership with US Ignite at today. US Ignite is a White House initiative supported by the National Science Foundation to advance applications and services for next-generation networks across America.

US Ignite fosters experimentation, collaboration, learning and development of applications and services to improve the way Americans utilize healthcare, energy, education, transportation, public safety and advanced manufacturing. Today Mayor Weinberger announced Burlington is the first city in New England to join the US Ignite initiative and one of twelve in the nation.

Burlington High School flipped the switch on its Gigabit connectivity earlier this month. This access has started a flurry of conversations between the Partnership for Change, Burlington School District, city of Burlington and other US Ignite city community partners on how BHS can utilize Gigabit connectivity to better prepare students for a 21st Century economy.

City Hall has enlisted Elliot and Sutton to act as student voices on an education advisory board. Both Elliot and Sutton are self-taught coders who have advocated for coding classes at BHS, which are on the horizon. Sutton develops games in his spare time and plans to start a Coding Club at BHS this year. BHS is actively looking into the possibility of creating a Maker’s Space over the next year and securing funding for the hardware and equipment needed for Gigabit connectivity. BHS and Partnership for Change recently hired Adam Provost, a technology integration specialist with experience with Maker’s Spaces and student personalized learning plans in the field of technology. Amazon Web Services has expressed interest in offering free web services for a cloud based personalized learning approach.

The Gigabit connectivity has yet to be used, and one wonders what the possibilities are when a school has the capability of internet connectivity over 100 times faster than the national average, and the support of BTV Ignite and US Ignite behind it.

Students in Gigabit city Chattanooga, Tennessee can manipulate microscopes in the Pacific Ocean from across the country and pull and manipulate data from USC researchers in real time with HD quality viewing. Partnering with other US Ignite cities means students at Burlington High School could have more opportunities to break down the walls of the classroom, learn with community partners and develop 21st Century technology and problem solving skills.

For more information on how BTV Ignite will affect education in Burlington and at BHS, join us at the Tech Jam Panel at Memorial Auditorium on Friday, October 18 at 11am.

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