Listen and learn : Mainstage
Matthew Cerza Derek Ham laura mcbain Megan McMahon Isabella Oh Jeremy Spry
Ready to take a step back into the past to see the future? Through digital fabrication, Derek Ham is using VR in groundbreaking ways; connecting people anytime, anywhere and bringing history to life through a new innovative medium that can personify the experience of other people. Then, future forward to Laura McBain, a human-centered designer and educator, and the co-director of the K12 lab at the Stanford d.school. She has spent her career designing programs focused on youth, equity and education reform. She’ll share about this work and why it matters.
Matthew Cerza is a 2021 graduate of Junipero Serra High School in Half Moon Bay, California, and will attend the University of Colorado Boulder in the fall. He says his interest in technology comes from his curiosity about how various devices work. As a child, he often disassembled everything from old TV remotes to computer mice to understand their innerworkings. Cerza also enjoys tennis, skiing and tinkering with computers and remote control cars.
Derek Ham, Ph.D., is an associate professor and head of the Art + Design department for NC State University’s College of Design. His research expertise includes game-based learning, digital storytelling and immersive media. Ham completed his doctoral work in design computation at MIT, and holds a master’s in architecture from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and a bachelor’s in architecture from Hampton University. As the founder of the Mixed Reality Lab at the College of Design, he investigates virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology to find ways these tools can expand how we work and play. In 2019, NC State University also invested in the lab’s spin off company, Logic Grip Inc., a startup that produces VR content and develops new VR hardware and peripheral devices. In 2017, Ham received funding from Oculus by Facebook through its Launchpad Program to complete a VR project called “I Am A Man.” This project centers on civil rights, the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers strike and last days of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The VR experience has been broadly celebrated for its achievement in the use of this new technology to communicate history in a meaningful way. The project has been shown at film festivals nationally and internationally, including the SIGGRAPH 2018 Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality Program. “I Am A Man” won the Perspectives Award for Immersive Storytelling at the 42nd Cleveland International Film Festival, won VR Best of Show at the 2018 Nashville Film Festival, and was the winner of the 2018 FoST Prize for the category “Bridging the Divide.” Ham’s next VR project, “Barnstormers,” is a VR telling of the Negro Baseball League. It’s currently in pre-production and is being funded by the Epic Game’s Mega Grant program.
Laura McBain is a human-centered designer and educator, and the co-director of the K12 lab at the Stanford d.school. Her work focuses on understanding the ecosystem of education and finding meaningful opportunities to advance racial and social justice. Prior to her role at the d.school, McBain worked for 15 years at High Tech High, serving as the director of external relations, principal of two school sites and a founding teacher.
Megan McMahon is a senior events manager with ISTE, helping shape amazing educator content and events like the Creative Constructor Lab. She also has experience as a teacher resident with IDEO’s The Teachers Guild, spent 10 years as an art educator for San Francisco Unified School District, was a Peace Corps education volunteer in Bolivia, worked as a designer and art director for Anderson & Lembke Advertising, and was a co-founder of Beyond Borders Storytelling. McMahon is also an artist, and is always seeking that elusive San Francisco sun. She believes changes in education will come from inside school communities, from the ground up.
Isabella Oh is a senior at La Cañada High School in Flintridge, California, where she’s involved in the Student Tech Council and Associated Student Body activities. Oh says she became interested in technology after she noticed a need for student voices and opinions on how we perceive, use and improve technology at school and at home. She enjoys reading, art history and graphic design.
Jeremy Spry is the program manager for the Science Leadership Academy Center City in Philadelphia where he creates and fosters partnerships that provide experiences for high school students that live out the saying, “High school is not preparation for the real world, it is the real world.” Spry manages all community partnerships and outreach, and is a member of the administrative team. He says he’s inspired by his parents who are retired public school teachers in New York City, and by the kids he coaches as a volunteer with Students Run Philly Style. Spry is a graduate of New York City public schools and Drexel University.
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