An array of New Canaan's best and brightest not only shared a look into the future Feb. 26, but demonstrated the kind of imagination and hard work necessary to help make it a bright one.
Close to 100 students participated in the seventh annual Tech Night at New Canaan High School. Individual students and teams shared a wide variety of independent science projects centered on technology.
"It really began as a showcase for what teachers were doing in the classroom," said Robert Miller, director of technology for New Canaan Public Schools, describing the history of the event. "Then, in the second year, we changed it to student-focused."
He explained that students are required to present a viable plan to create something or perform an experiment. "It needs to be doable," he said.
Students created apps, worked in robotics, built computers, designed websites, demonstrated animation and conducted a range of different experiments.
"We have the gamut," Miller said, with more than 40 projects on display.
"Kids are so interested in building," said Vivian Birdsall, math instructional leader at Saxe Middle School and Tech Team advisor. This year, she said, around 100 students at Saxe have joined the after-school club.
"The Tech Team has exploded over the last few years," she said. "Basically, the kids come to me and say they're interested in something to do with technology ... and we figure out how to do it.
"They're interested in the background of technology," she said. "They're interested in why things work."
Seventh-grader Lucas Quinn built a robotic arm which he displayed at Tech Night.
"When you make things with technology, it feels really good," Quinn, 12, said. "All the stuff that we do is exciting and fun, and you learn stuff from it," he said.
Jason Campe, 13, agreed.
"It's just, like, exciting," Campe said. "You get to do stuff you've never done before, or even thought of doing before. You also get to impress people."
Clark MacKenzie, who helped his son, Finlay, with an experiment that involved discovering the best way to change their cat's litter box, said he's very pleased that students who don't necessarily have athletics as their primary interest get a chance to demonstrate their skills and experience.
"It takes a certain amount of confidence to take a risk and present," he said. "They can share with their peers, and it gets their parents involved."
His son enjoyed seeing what his classmates created.
"I think it's cool that students get to share their ideas," Finlay, 11, said.
"I've never experienced anything like this," said Gertraud Humphreys, a parent who saw her first Tech Night. "I think it's a great opportunity for the kids to showcase what they learned, and they seem to be energized by it. They're not intimidated or hiding. They seem so proud of what they've learned ... I love it."
Most students were very confident in sharing their presentations, speaking spontaneously about what they set out to do, and answering questions about results.
Some students, such as those involved with an operational 3-D printer that was built last year by Saxe's Tech Team, demonstrated a vivid excitement of not only the work they've been executing, but the future applications to the world in which we live.
"In 20 years every kitchen in America will have one of these," said D.J. Morse, 13, referencing the printer.
He and other students excitedly shared that this same machine -- or at least a more high-tech version -- will one day be capable of creating new organs for people's bodies.
"What I like about science," said Lucy Potter, 10, "is that some people don't know everything about it, so there's always more interesting things to learn."
Potter and her partner, Alexandra Harte, 10, conducted an "Eggsperiment," which used hard-boiled eggs to demonstrate the effects of different liquids on one's teeth.
"There's nothing better than to see these kids shine like that," said Christie Ruiz, tech services coordinator. "It's just fabulous."
Jarret Liotta is a freelance writer.