For M’Shae Mathews, daughter of Allison and Mike Mathews, technology may not be her sole interest, but it has had an important place in her academic and extracurricular life for years. As a member of the Student Technology Leadership Program (STLP) since elementary school, she has seen not only her technology skills grow, but her confidence and leadership skills have grown as well. This past summer, those skills were put to the test when she interviewed for and was selected to be an STLP engineer at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference.
The ISTE Conference was held in late June 2018 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. Each year students who are STLP members and attending the annual Regional STLP Conference are eligible to compete for a spot on the team of student engineers that work at the international conference. Only eight students from Kentucky (one from each region) were selected as student engineers. M’Shae first interviewed for the student engineer position in 2016 and chosen as an alternate. When interviews were opened again in 2017, she used her interview experience to help her land a seat on the team of student engineers.
M’Shae agreed that having gone through a previous interview in 2016, she could probably handle anything that would be thrown at her. “I just told myself that the worst they could do to me is say ‘No.’”
After working at the annual conference for the Kentucky Society for Technology in Education, M’Shae and some of her fellow student engineers were invited to work at the international conference. Working in shifts, the student engineers spent their days welcoming conference attendees with music that the student engineers created using a machine that few people probably had ever seen.
“The first thing people would see when they entered the conference area was this MASH machine,” said M’Shae. “There are only four of these machines in the United States, so it was definitely something new and unique.”
The MASH machine is an innovative way to create music, but instead of using pre-recorded tunes, the MASH machine uses cubes with QR codes that are read by the machine’s camera. Each of the 40 cubes on the machine’s four sides lighted surface represents a different instrument or tone – the vocals, bass, drums, and melody. The user, or DJ, can move the cubes across the lighted surface to create a unique melody that varies depending upon which cubes are selected and how they are moved across the surface. (To learn more about the MASH machine, go to http://mashmachines.com/.)
“I was nervous to use this machine, but the way it was set up, you couldn’t really make a bad sound,” said M’Shae. “This was the first time I had seen one of these machines in person. We were sent an email about the MASH machine, but since there are so few in the U.S., I think we were all amazed by this machine.”
While M’Shae does not plan on a career in education technology, she was nevertheless impressed by her time at the ISTE conference, saying, “ISTE was so overwhelming because so much is changing in the field of education technology. It’s a field that is taking off – always new and always changing.”