PCM soars to new heights


by Taylor Burns

Five years ago, PCM Community School District made headlines by purchasing Macbooks for
students. At the beginning of this year, students in the high school received new Macbook Airs. So what’s next? Three exciting additions for student and staff use: A DJI Fantom2 Drone, Sony Action Cameras and a Media Room.
Metro Waste Authority donates a host fee, which has given the district the opportunity to purchase these new technologies. On Nov. 17, Metro Waste Authority presented a check to the district, which represented the total donation from the 2013-14 school year; this check totaled $56,068.92. PCM receives quarterly donations from them to be used for Science, Tech and Vocational Ag-related purchases. The PCM and Southeast Polk School Districts both have land within the Metro Waste landfill. Because of that, Metro Waste Authority has decided to donate this host fee to both districts on a percentage of their total tonnage of waste.
“I am excited for the new equipment because this gives the students a direct opportunity to experience something new with technology beyond their laptop screens,” District Technology Director Sean Balzer said.
For some, the drone might be the most exciting purchase of the three. The drone, which looks like a mini helicopter with a video camera attached to the bottom, can only be used by certified teachers, who will be trained by Balzer. Kristen Souza’s Environmental Science class will use the drone the most to take videos of places people cannot reach or normally see. However, Physics and Agricultural classes will use the drone, too; the machine will fly over crops in the summer so Ag Teacher Nichole Gent can monitor them.
The school district will also be purchasing Sony Action Cameras with the Metro Waste money, which are water- and shock-proof. There will be six to eight of them in the high school and two in every other PCM building. Students will be able to check them out for any class project if they aren’t being used by any of the science classes.
Finally, PCM High School has a new Media Room in the library. This room has a green screen and will feature a microphone that will hang from the ceiling. This room will act as a quiet area for students to record their voices and use the green screen for more creative videos — the green screen allows users to digitally transmit any image on a screen, similar to what meteorologists use when showing the weather on television. The Macbook Airs, already being used by the students, have an application called iMovie, which allows students to film on the green screen for no additional cost.
“With all this exposure to new devices,” Balzer said, “my personal hope is that it inspires students to take their interest beyond their days in high school and on to bigger things.”