Remember the old science fairs with homemade volcanoes and Styrofoam solar systems? Well don't look for those projects in New Canaan anymore. The kids around here are more interested in making their own video games, robots and other devices as evidenced by the displays at New Canaan Public School's sixth annual Tech Night.

"It's not just science," Rob Miller, technology director of NCPS, said. "It's all types of technology related projects. We've got engineering projects, we've got robotics, we've got graphic arts and we've got music production, we've got game production, stopgap animation and so much more. It's all amazing because most of the projects here are what students have been doing outside of the main coursework in their free time."

Miller also said Tech Night is the perfect night for students who may not normally get a platform to showcase their work to really get some attention.

"To me the significance is giving the students an opportunity to shine. Giving them the opportunity to showcase what they are passionate about. A lot of these students, they aren't your traditional athletes or artists or doing the plays or doing the music concerts," Miller said. "This is their opportunity to step out into the community and say `let me show you what I'm all about' and that's exciting."

Trey Oehmler, 13, was one of those students who shined -- again. After building an iPhone app from scratch last year, he took on the Microsoft Kinect this year. The Kinect is an attachment for the Xbox 360, which allows the player to control the game using his body through motion control. Oehmler showed how the device could be used beyond just gaming. Recently Microsoft released a program that allows outside developers to start using some of the data that the Kinect takes in, including depth data and joint movements.

"What I did was got to create an invisible drum set," he said. "The Kinect itself can be used in many ways beyond gaming and the main part of my project is that it isn't just about gaming. They can use it in medicine and many other fields."

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Oehmler cited an example of how a doctor can use motion control to look at a three dimensional X-ray in the future.

Staying with the games themes, a groups of two juniors and one sophomore created a full-blown retro-style spaceship game called Thetaron. Don't be surprised if you see this game pop up on your Xbox 360's marketplace in the near future. The game has eight stages where the player uses different crafts, like an airship, spaceship or gunboat, to fend off various attacks. Edward Morely, Christopher Boolukos and Ryan Kearns all worked together to put out the finished product, which they hope to improve with more modes and features in the future.

Morley said he hopes to explore game design as a career.

"Ever since I was a little kid and I played Star Wars Rogue Squadron on the Nintendo 64 for the first time, that was such a powerful moment," Morely said. "Not only did that get me into playing games I just really wanted to make them as well."

And that was just the tip of the iceberg. There were more than 60 projects displayed at tech night and each of them brought something different to the table. Miller said the showcase by all the students should really show the residents of New Canaan how much they are really getting from the education system.

"It's also a good opportunity for us as a school district to showcase to parents and the community with their taxpayer money and what we do with their resources and this is a perfect example of the excitement that breeds from what we're doing everyday in school. The schools are learning how to problem-solve, they're learning creative production, they're learning development and programming and they are able to take that and apply that outside of school," Miller said. "Because we didn't force students into a box and say do this project or that project. They actually came up with these ideas on their own and these ideas had to come from somewhere. So it shows all the education we've provided have led them to this point where they can do all of this and it's pretty amazing."

pjha@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4413; www.twitter.com/pjhancnews