October 27, 2016 12:02:10 PM
Joshua Starr -
Students from 14 Mississippi high schools converged on the Mississippi State University campus Wednesday for a technology competition.
The third annual Digital Dawg Byte high school technology competition, sponsored by the Department of Instructional Systems and Workforce Development, showcased MSU's assets to students while testing their technical knowledge, skills and creativity.
ISWD Department Head Connie Ford said she started the program as a way to encourage participants to consider attending Mississippi State and introduce them to the department's programs and the university as a whole.
"When students come on campus, they're more likely to decide to attend college," Forde said. "And it provides a service project for us. All of our programs are about technology, so we thought, 'Let's have a high school technology competition.'"
In the three years since the program was started, participation has grown from about 60 students from six area schools to about 330 students from across the state.
Participants were invited to vie in three Dawg Byte competition events. The Kahoot It event quizzed students' knowledge of business, technology and the university; Snap It challenged students to record photos and videos during a campus tour and package their media to convey their story; and App It, a software design fair, featured participant presentations that pitching app designs and working models to judges.
During the Kahoot it challenge, participants packed into a third-floor lecture hall in Colvard Student Union and used cell phones and tablets to ring in answers to quiz questions using quiz website Kahoot. The competition's top teams then moved on to a quiz bowl round.
ISWD faculty member and Kahoot It quizmaster Pam Bracy said by framing the ISWD studies in a fun activity, she hopes the department's technology education program made a lasting impression on the visiting high schoolers. Before beginning the quiz, Bracey gave participants an overview of the program and used the event as opportunity to offer the resources of her position to participants applying to college.
"I always tell them if they need anything [to] call, even if they go to another university - but I'd love to have them here," Bracey said.
She said a participant from in last year's event called her in the spring to ask her to review his essays for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program. Bracey said student later contacted her when he was awarded the scholarship totaling more than $400,000.
"Because of the major he wanted, he went to the University of Alabama, but I felt good ... because the kids are really my passion," Bracey said.
For the Snap It event, participants recorded photos and videos with their phones during a guided tour of the MSU campus and then packaged their media for a presentation judged by ISWD faculty and staff.
During the App It competition, Starkville Academy senior Beau Ellis and his team presented their app Club Hub, which helps users find and form clubs based on shared interests. He said the event challenged him to critically address the market demand.
"It doesn't matter if you're in population of 100, there's bound to be someone who likes video games and someone who likes football," Ellis said. "I thought, 'Well, it's so hard for me to find people who are on my same wavelengths. What if there was an app that was much easier?"
Ellis said he enjoyed how the event facilitated an open exchange of ideas among competitors, and he felt the program was a compelling for recruitment.
"They did it not only to showcase what Mississippi State is capable of, but they did it in a way that you didn't really know you were being recruited," he said.
Ellis said to that end, he plans to attend MSU next year, though he plans to major in music.