Rayhaan: Mr. Hawkins is one of the tech teachers at our school. On top of teaching tech classes, he runs Ski Club, Hand in Hand and Women in Technology. Recently, he has been given a Master Teacher award. Today, we take a look into several of Mr. Hawkins’ many accomplishments. From The Panther Eye this is Roar.
Rayhaan: What was the work you have done to become a master teacher?
Mr. Hawkins: It wasn’t any specific work that I’ve done. It’s just took a long time. Of time to take an exam. I had to go through an interview there had recommendations and there’s a certain number of requirements to be able to be part of the master teacher program, so I fulfilled those.
Josh: You recently been named a New York state Master teacher. What are some of the benefits you expect to gain from this?
Mr. Hawkins: I’m finding there’s quite a few benefits mostly in that it’s a really good group of people that all want to be better teachers. They’re all really good to begin with and they all want to be better. So, it ends up it ends up being more work, but it’s really good work. So the is professional development classes and brainstorming sessions and things like that that you doing with other teachers. And everybody is just trying to help each other be better. It’s a really good program.
Rayhaan: How long have you been teaching for?
Mr. Hawkins: This is my 29th-year.
Rayhaan: What were some of the most interesting things or people you’ve met over the years of the teacher?
Mr. Hawkins: Hard to say because I’ve been doing it a long time. I have had quite a few interesting students. I have meet other interesting teachers and I have met a lot of people along the way doing all kinds of stuff. I don’t know if there is anyone that stands out or I can pick out on the top of my head. But It has been a very interesting ride.
Josh: What you think of your new AP CS principles course, and what would you say to students interested in taking it?
Mr. Hawkins: It’s I think it’s a really good course. It’s an it’s a pretty broad overview of what computer science is, and the new challenge for me. I’ve been doing a little bit of programming here and there and it really, it’s more than programming is also how the internet works right down to write down to bit level. What happens to each individual bit as it goes from one place to another. So, there’s more to it than just programming but programing is a lot of it.
Rayhaan: Compared to Project Lead, the Way what you think is better about advanced placement?
Mr. Hawkins: I don’t know that it’s better or worse. It’s just different it goes to a different set of Standards lack a better term its broader. Project Lead the Way which we don’t we don’t actually have here anymore is engineering-based. It’s really focused on that, where AP is, you know, all the Core subjects that there is AP Lit and a bunch of AP science courses and math courses and things like that. Ap is broader.
Josh: Do you think that more students should take technology courses?
Mr. Hawkins: Absolutely. Absolutely. you know, almost everything that we do has some basis in technology and in the manufacture of world. It’s a good idea for people to known how stuff works. It really is, you know, it’s a it’s not the kind of thing that people get anywhere else anymore. So I think it I think it’s really important for people to know how things work and where things came from and how things are manufactured and made and if for no other reason than just to have that background knowledge when you start looking for jobs are looking for something to do.
Rayhaan: Is there anything you would change about the AP Computer Science principles curriculum?
Rayhaan: How have you seen technology progress over the years you have been a teacher?
Mr. Hawkins: Quite a bit, it’s kind of interesting because things like 3D printers and you know CNC machines like the Milling machines and routers and things like that. Computer control machines were just becoming a thing when I was in college. 3D printers were not even around and if they were they were half million dollar machines that very few people knew about. Just in the last few years there has been quite a few of these types of things that have become way more popular, and cheaper and easier to use and just extends our capability quite a lot.
Josh: What are some near term technology developments you are most anticipating?
Mr. Hawkins: I think you’re going to continue seeing more development in things like batteries and energy. There’s going to be more work done with renewable energy and probably with electric driven cars and trucks and things like that. I think you’re going to see more autonomous vehicles. That scares me a little bit. Because machines are not perfect. So there will be some growing pains and I think you’re going to see more of that kind of stuff. I hope we get better batteries that don’t require materials from politically unstable places in the world, but I think that’s still going to be a thing for a long time.
Rayhaan: What were some developments that you have been surprised by?
Mr. Hawkins: I’ve been really surprised at how fast the cost has come down on 3D printing. It really is only been a thing for about eight or ten years. And in that time it’s gone from you know something that’s really out of reach for the average homeowner to something that is inexpensive enough for a Christmas present. You know what I mean? It’s really pretty good printers at that price to you know. They’re not perfect, but they’re decent. It’s a surprise me how fast that talk cost is come down.
Rayhaan: Just curious. Where did you get these?
Mr. Hawkins: Those were from Amazon. Those are but you can get one like that for like $130 right now. I just ordered one made by that company. It’s just a little bit smaller, but it’s half the price is like 350 and it’s a minute to fantastic printer. They won’t even be shipping those until November or later this month looking forward to that. But it’s yeah, it’s really nuts. And if you like 5 years ago, you couldn’t touch a 3D printer for under $1,000 and it’s really amazing.
Josh: How do you explain hand in hand to those who don’t understand it?
Mr. Hawkins: Hand in hand is a program where we make assistive devices for children with limb differences if that makes any sense. So most of the kids that we’ve dealt with in the last 3 years have had one arm that has missing parts, right. So they in most cases they have some for on but not very much and everything below that would be would be missing. All the local kids that we’ve really help through that have that’s been their condition since birth is not been an accident or anything like that. There’s one young man in Ghana that that it was an accident. So we had to wait until it was healed before we did anything for him, but that’s essentially what it is. We’re making assisted devices. I am shy away from using the term prosthetic. Prosthetic implies of freshly made and fitted in thing that’s going to last of us very long time. The things that we make are really temporary. These kids are growing like crazy, you know, and most cases they last about a year so that and then they grow out that’s okay because most insurance companies now will only pay for one professionally done prosthetic for life. Because It can be 50-60 $80,000, it’s nothing to sneeze at. So insurancse companies will pay for one of those, it doent make since to do it when they are 5 years old because they’re going to grow out of it in six months then what do you do. So the devices that we try to put together kind of bridge that gap to get some used to using something until they stop growing and then I get to go to make sense for them to get out of a permanent device.
Rayhaan: Can you share some of the impact it has and recipients’ lives?
Mr. Hawkins: Like I said in the first year, Caitlin, who got one arm, she used it quite a lot. There’s a video some place of her doing a cartwheel with it. Which I thought was pretty amazing. I was amazed she could do that without breaking it. It held up actually quite well. She was in a lot but there was a young man about 5 years old. He really didn’t like using it. That’s fine. He had the opportunity he tried it, but he didn’t like it. He was you know, it was heavy, a little bit unwieldy. So he liked using just what he had. It depends on the child, you know, some of them some of them like using it all the time some use it part of the time. they have the opportunity to use it as much as a want or can.
Rayhaan: For the students that participated in creating the…
Mr. Hawkins: Yeah that might be the bigger thing there’s been several students that have made decisions about their career path based on their participation program. There’s been there’s been quite a few kids that have now at the very least, They’ve seen what it’s like to do something really nice for somebody else to help somebody else out. I think an attitude of service is important thing in. There is sometimes little opportunity for kids to do things like that that are truly meaningful and I think it really has given kids an opportunity to work on something very very real and that might be that might be the biggest thing cuz in school a lot of times things are simulated or you doing a little bit of this little bit of a real. This is real. This is this is a thing that someone is going to use for a period of time and their daily life. It’s a it really is a thing and I think that’s adds a sense of urgency to what’s going on.
Josh: What are some things that are being done to broaden the program?
Mr. Hawkins: The biggest things going on right now and what is the expansion of the program into Ghana. I don’t know what I got myself into but there was a parent of a participant in the first year who has connections there, she’s a librarian is Library had some kind of I don’t know. I don’t remember how she got connected with somebody Ghana but she had been there a few times and got us connected with an organization there that wanted to expand a hand in hand program there. That’s how it started and now it’s now it looks like it’s going to be expanding the entire Stem Hub in West Africa not just in Ghana, but in all of West Africa, so we’re in the planning stages now and they’re supposed to be I’m supposed to go with a couple of the people in January to try and see what’s going on and do some teacher training and try and set the program up, and then we’re supposed to go for two weeks in July with some students and couple of the teachers and actually helped run the first hand in hand program. As well as talk to as many as four hundred fifty other people from all over West Africa about and hand as well as stem Hub in general. Ghana really is more Progressive than a lot of other countries in Africa in that they really want to get girls and young women into the workforce. And so they’re particularly interested in things like the girls coding program, and sign saturdays and do what you doing other kinds of learning opportunities for young people to learn STEM related skills.
Rayhaan: What would you say to those interested in joining the hand-in-hand program?
Mr. Hawkins: Apply. Keep following the WNY application stem website and sometime usually in May.. I want to say may is when the new applications come out and then fill out an application to get a couple of recommendations. And apply.
Josh: Why did you decide to advise Ski Club?
Mr. Hawkins: Originally my predecessor Ms. Bitford she did it before me. I was minding my own business and she put out a call that she needed because she heard the club is getting bigger and she needed an assistant advisor. So she put out a kind of a anybody help me with the ski club. And so I think I was the only one that ansewered. So I helped her out for a year-and-a-half and then she and I are moving out of the area. So then I took over the head HooHa job for the ski club.
Rayhaan: What are some of the things you enjoy most about the ski club?
Mr. Hawkins: Skiing. It really is fun. It’s an it’s a tremendous group of kids, which is great. Everybody usually gets back on time, which is good, and I like to ski, so it’s It’s a it’s an opportunity for me to get out of the kind of forces me to get out more than I probably otherwise would and yeah its just fun.
Josh: Do you think it broadens the people you get to interact with beyond technology?
Mr. Hawkins: That is a big deal. I get to hang out with kids other than Tech kids, you know, there’s a certain there’s a certain number of kids that take all the tech classes and it is in this school. It’s only about a quarter of a school maybe, probably not even that takes technology classes.It’s unfortunate. I think it should be. But in ski club I see a cross section of everyone in the school which is which is kind of neat. And I think there’s a few people that didn’t know anything about tech club or detect classes or me that may have taken the class based on their experience in ski club with me. Which I think is good and I’m happy to hang out with kids of all types here so it works out.
Rayhaan: like when and where does ski club occur?
Mr. Hawkins: Usually we start doing our actual trips, we do Friday nights at Holiday Valley starting right when we get back in early January. Will do eight trips, on Friday nights, and then hopefully if we get enough people to sign up this year, we will also take a trip to Vermont for the weekend and the second weekend of March.
Rayhaan: Why did you start the new women in technology Club?
Mr. Hawkins: Well there were two young ladies that came to me at the end of hand in hand and wanted to start that club, and I thought it was a tremendous idea. We will try it out this year and see how it goes. So we will see.
Rayhaan: And for anyone interested when would that be?
Mr. Hawkins: We are meeting Thursdays after school. We’re going to try to meet Wednesdays and Thursdays here coming up cuz we have a project that needs to wrap up by December 20th. So we need to get really moving on that. So Thursday for sure. Wednesday as we needed.
Josh: Do you think women are under-represented in technology?
Mr. Hawkins: Absolutely underrepresented and that’s part of why I think it’s a good idea to have this woman technology club. To try and encourage young women to pursue these types of subjects that they might not otherwise think of it as a career path cuz it really is good.
Rayhaan: Are there any new projects are working on outside of school? It says maybe food-related
Mr. Hawkins: Maybe food-related?
Mr. Hawkins: I make yogurt and cheese. You know, I like, you I do canning, and I grow tomatoes to make tomato sauce and do all that kind of stuff. I haven’t done anything really new other than I am getting much better at making hot pepper jelly.
Rayhaan: Hot… Is that for like sandwiches?
Mr. Hawkins: Not for sandwiches It’s more of a more of a condiment. So you take a cracker, little cream cheese, pepper Jelly Down. Then down the Hatch.. It’s a good thing to do with those.