Severn News

A Virtual Trip Through the Past, Present and Future of Innovation

Did you know that some of the first home computers looked more like table tops than the ubiquitous keyboards with glossy screens that we see today? Our 2nd and 3rd-grade students got a personalized tour through the evolution of technology at the Computer History Museum in early February. Perhaps it's more accurate to say they got a robot's-eye look at the famous museum located just around the corner from Google HQ in Mountain View, Calif. With Lower School technology specialist Ms. Vicki Dabrowka at the controls, our students explored the museum through the eyes of a telepresence robot.

A Different Type of Virtual Tour

Many museums offer virtual field trips, but these are often website-based with interactive tools and videos. The Computer History Museum provides students a much more immersive, real-life experience. Ms. Dabrowka recently traveled to Silicon Valley and San Francisio through Severn's Millard Faculty Travel Grant and visited the museum in-person. She was excited to share the trip with her students...virtually!

Using a telepresence robot known as "Beam," visitors can navigate through exhibition spaces. A museum docent leads the tour and provides the same educational programming that visitors would have on site. Visitors feel as though they are walking through the exhibits right along with her.
The Beam telepresence robot at the Computer History Museum.
The Beam telepresence robot at the museum.

Preparing for the Trip

Prior to the virtual trip, Ms. Dabrowka and her classes explored the museum’s website to get an idea of what to expect. Students wrote down questions and notes to share with the museum docent. For our 2nd graders, this visit fit perfectly with their “Changing Communities” social studies unit, as technology is often a catalyst for change. Our second graders' questions included:
  • How did they build the computer that "broke the code" during WWII?
  • How do you program a computer?
  • Do they have museums like this all around the world?
  • How does a self-driving car work?
  • and more

Beam Us to the Past…and Future!

On the day of the trip, Ms. Dabrowka gathered her students around the SMART Board in the Maker Lab. Using her laptop, she connected with museum docent Stephanie Corrigan, logged in to control the robot and traveled with her students from the early days of tech to the future. They examined a range of technology artifacts, from barely-recognizable machines to a fully operational self-driving car.
Severn School students watch a video on a Smart Board
2nd graders eager to ask their questions!
At each exhibit Ms. Corrigan asked the class questions and encouraged our lower schoolers to make connections between the tech we use every day and the origins from which it came.

Take a look at the Beam interface in action!

Technology in the Classroom on Chesapeake Campus

Our primary goal is to engage students. We use technology in the classroom when doing so creates greater meaning for our students through experiences they wouldn’t otherwise be able to have. Throughout the year Ms. Dabrowka keeps current on new tools and trends that can benefit our students and provides unique and purposeful opportunities for learning. From design thinking challenges in the Maker Lab to creating online student portfolios and virtual trips like this, she plans rich, memorable experiences that enhance our academic curriculum. Where might they travel to next?

Lower School

Upper School