SIOUX COUNTY, IA — This year students at West Middle School are going above and beyond their standard curriculum. "We're putting lights up on the school and we're going to make a light show and the band is playing music and we're programming the lights to the music," said Hannah Fridely, an eighth-grader at West Middle School. It's part of Sioux City School District's new 21st century skills class, which helps prepare students for more advanced subjects and jobs that require technical skills. Dr. Paul Gausman, the Sioux City School District Superintendent said, "these students today were teaching me one part of this grand display that will be there. And it's neat to see how they're working together to understand the math concepts, the science concepts, the team work and collaboration and problem solving that go along with all of this." Technology teacher Mike Borrall came up with the idea for students to learn a variety of skills through a single activity. "This year we said we can do more controllers, more lights and we are up to approximately 75,000 lights and the kids are going to be more involved in the programming, because it's a more in depth programming to code 265 controllers," Borrall. The students are using software called Superstar to create the display. "We'll say we want that light set of lights to turn on, then we want to shut off, then we want to turn on, shut off, then we'll do that with the beat of the music," said Borrall. The students say they are excited to be engaging this hands-on activity. "I think it's going to be a really good thing. We're going to have a lot of people coming and checking it out and it's going to be a very fun thing to have at West," said Cristina Valadez, 8th grader at West Middle School. "It's challenging in a different way than like other classes. I think they're going to turn out really cool when they're done," said Maggie Irish, 8th grader at West Middle School.
Eighth grader Hiatt Holman said, "it's fun being able to work with new stuff. Stuff that is like working in the future technology. " The bright display will be open to the public on the Friday after Thanksgiving.