Future of technology explored at Vista Preparatory School


RED BLUFF, Calif. - Some of us may be going into the future kicking and screaming. But whether you like it or not, technology rules the world. And your children or grandchildren are probably way better with computers than you could ever hope to be.

Vista Preparatory School in Red Bluff is preparing kids for college in the technology age by showing them just what they could be doing when they get there.

"We're here to talk about jobs that don't exist yet," said Brittany Wouden, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Team Manager at Washington State University. "You're gonna be so awesome inventing some cool things with the technology."

That's a lot of pressure to put on 6th, 7th and 8th graders. But it's true. 10 years ago very few people could have imagined what Google would become or had even conceived of Facebook. Even cell phones weren't anything near the internet-surfing, do-everything bricks they are today.

Vista Prep has collaborated with a local company called College Options to promote college enrollment in their school. Even in middle school the students are encouraged to think of their future and this is another way to expand their horizons.

College Options asked the Washington State University team to come show their students what they could do with technology available today.

All the demonstrations focused on something called augmented reality where iPads, iPhones or Android devices are used to bring pictures and words to life. And the kids love it.

"This is amazing," said 8th grader Trenton Houghtby, who hopes to go on to become a physical therapist. "I would have never dreamed of just having this technology, and now I can play with it."

Brittany Lawley, another 8th grader, was just as impressed, "I did not realize they could do such exquisite things."

The whole room buzzed with rapt excitement as fully engrossed preteens scurried from one section to another wielding iPads and iPad Minis to see what they could create and what secrets different pictures posted on the wall had tucked inside.

Vista Prep is one of two schools nationwide that this program will visit. Teachers say it's inspired their students to think about the possibilities they could have after high school.

"When I tell them to do good in school because Ms. Stacey says so, it doesn't mean as much as do well in school so you get to work with these fabulous tools," said Stacey Garrett, the College Options Adviser for Vista Prep while looking over her bustling students.

Other teachers were similarly impressed.

"When they got back to the classroom, they were all just a twitter about everything," said 6th grade teacher Phil Anker. "We talk a lot about college in our class already, but it's nice to see it really applied in a real way. And in a way where it's something fun and they think is really neat."

Brittany Wouden said some of the students are already suggesting ways to use the augmented reality in their future careers. One even said he hopes to become a doctor and use the technology to simulate operations.

So how did Vista Prep in the small town of Red Bluff get chosen to host this program? Wouden saidit was as simple as asking.

"It really came down to that they wanted us here," said Wouden. "And if they wanted us here, we wanted to be here."

She said a few strings had to be pulled and about $3,000 had to be allocated through Washington State University to make it all happen.

If you want to start making your own augmented reality, all you need is an iPad, iPhone or Android tablet and the app Aurasma in iTunes or on Google Play. You can even build your own "auras" as they're called by signing up for Aurasma Studio here.