Alexander City Schools students are getting ready to show off their work at the Alabama Consortium for Technology and Education Region 9 Technology Fair next week. The event is open to the public and begins at 9 a.m. Thursday at the Betty Carol Graham Center at Central Alabama Community College.

This is the first time the event has been held at Alexander City. Students in fifth through 12th grade will compete in individual and two-person team projects. 

The competition’s 14 categories include web design, animation, digital game design, robotics and video production, according to technology integration specialist Brigitte McCawley.

“Sometimes students don’t realize the importance of technology outside of sitting and playing a game,” McCawley said. “So this gives them an opportunity to see what technology can do beyond just gaming or sitting and playing a game, but it actually serves a purpose.”

McCawley said Region 9 also includes Russell, Chambers, Lee and Macon counties, but all 31 entries were only from Alexander City Schools. She plans on taking video at the event to inspire other students to attend next year.

“That’s what I’m communicating to the students is, ‘This is your opportunity to be a model to kids that aren’t in our system,’” McCawley said. “This gives them a chance to kind of be like leaders to their peers in other systems.”

Project topics include the water cycle, cyber bullying, Alabama, Lake Martin, digital citizenship, internet addiction and global warming. Some projects were made in class and some students did theirs out of class, according to McCawley. 

“I love that the students have taken it and given it a purpose,” McCawley said.  

First- and second-place finishers in each grade and category will go to the state level competition at Auburn University Montgomery in April. 

The projects make students write, use math, collaborate in small groups and communicate. Students learn soft skills such as interviewing while talking with the judges, according to McCawley.

McCawley has helped with the event in Region 5, which had Autauga, Chilton, Lowndes, Montgomery, Dallas, Perry and Bibb counties, and said her favorite part is watching the excited students present.

“That is the part I like the most because some of them might not be football players or cheerleaders but they have talent, they have skills and they have creative mindsets and this is a way for that to come out,” McCawley said.