A buzzing drone floated over the heads of Miller High School and Miller Metro Prep students Thursday, inspiring junior Isabella Estrella.
"OK, my turn," Estrella said. "It's time."
From her spot in the darkened classroom, Estrella turned her focus to her drone, maneuvering the device with a smartphone. Seconds later, the drone launched forward, whirring toward the screen at the front of the room as her classmates called out directions.
"My heart's racing right now!" Estrella exclaimed.
Down the hall, another group of students fiddled with Sphero robots, and another unboxed a vlogging kit. Teaching them how to use each piece of technology was another set of students presenting through Zoom.
The middle and high school students were all participants in Corpus Christi ISD's Tech2Learn. During the hybrid in-person and virtual program, students gave live and pre-recorded demonstrations, sharing knowledge with students following along from each CCISD middle and high school campus.
"I think it's great how we get to learn about new things," Estrella said. "I just experienced flying a drone for the first time. I feel like learning all of this, especially because some of the fields I want to go in are astronomy or astrophysics, we're going to need to discover all of these new things. Getting hands-on learning about new technologies, I think it's such a great idea and it opens up a lot of doors."
Estrella said she enjoyed learning about Procreate, a digital illustration app, and 3D printing.
Junior Will Roerich said the drone activity was "pretty cool."
"It's kind of scary when you're taking off, but as soon as you get the hang of it, it's not that bad," Roerich said.
Roerich said he also wants to try 3D rendering after seeing a presentation about it.
Eighth-grader Juan Martinez participated in the Sphero robot activity, but he also recorded the presentation on 3D modeling. Martinez taught himself primarily through YouTube tutorials.
"Whenever the pandemic started, I kind of got bored and I tend to do a lot of projects for fun at home," Martinez said. "I saw videos of people modeling stuff, so I started looking for programs I could use on Chromebook."
In the vlogging room, seventh-grader Victoria Shaw said Tech2Learn is a great experience.
"I actually had no idea what vlogging was until this," Shaw said. "I do filmmaking competitions here in Texas, so I'm definitely going to use the supplies."
Students participated in the program by invitation, chosen by their teachers based on their interests and skills. Every student went home with a new device.
"We want them to be able to be inspired by other students," CCISD instructional technology specialist Mary Cavazos said. "You might not find the most techie students in here. If they're able to experience this opportunity, it could inspire them and give them an avenue, a direction to go in."
This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: Students are the teachers at Corpus Christi ISD's Tech2Learn