Worcester’s Annual Tech Fest Receives 477 Entries

Worcester’s Annual Tech Fest Receives 477 Entries
Worcesters Annual

SNOW HILL — Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS) reached a benchmark this month when they hosted the 40th Annual Tech Fest at Worcester Technical High School (WTHS).

“This year’s Tech Fest was the 40th. From 1975-1980, it was called the Film Festival; from 1981-1994, it was called Media Festival; and since 1995, it has been called Tech Fest,” said Joshua Fradel, Coordinator of Instruction for Social Studies and Media Services.

“We’re always changing,” said Pat Tomasovic, the media specialist from Pocomoke High School. “When I first started here, it was making slideshows and 8mm film and all of that. So it’s evolved from 8mm to whatever the technology is.”

This year’s Tech Fest showcased student submitted photography, video productions, graphic design (both 2-D and 3-D) as well as robotics, engineering and computer programing among other categories.

There were 477 entries this year across all of the categories, representing about 280 students in all grade levels. As in years past, photography was the most popular category. The category might remain so popular even with the addition of more competition due to how easy it has become for a student to just walk outside and start snapping pictures.

“I think that’s what’s grown the biggest just because it’s where anybody can do it,” said Tomasovic.

She pointed out that today every smartphone has a high resolution camera and students seem to be getting those phones at younger and younger ages. With tablets also becoming popular and digital cameras continuing to evolve, photography is a much easier hobby to cultivate now than when the Tech Fest began. This is aided by the judges that WCPS bring onboard to help with the fest, with more than half of the 38 dedicated to photography.

“I feel like there’s a lot of enthusiasm with the photography judges,” said Dianne Spery, the media specialist for Showell Elementary School. “They love to see what the kids are doing.”

That doesn’t mean that the other categories were short-changed in any way. About 20 video projects were submitted as well as dozens of graphic designs and other examples of how students use technology every day.

“Some of the projects are classroom projects,” said Mary Cosby, media specialist for Stephen Decatur High School. “They make them in class and then they have the choice if they want to enter them in the Tech Fest. Other students, particularly in photography, will do it on their own. They go out and take pictures.”

Another significant change that Cosby has noticed over the last few years is how early students are becoming comfortable with the technology that their parents might struggle with.

“They’re not afraid of technology at all,” she said of Tech Fest participants.

Tomasovic agreed and joked that she was glad she worked at a high school so that her students could “show me how to do everything.”  Spery has noticed the same thing but countered that it’s not just high school students who seem to have a firm familiarity with technology.

“I’ve noticed since I’ve been doing it that there seem to be more little kids coming up with more sophisticated projects,” she said. “I have a third grader who did a blog.”

As the Tech Fest heads into its next decade, organizers expect that traditional categories like photography will remain popular but will see some competition as technologies like robotics become more accessible.