Young minds compete to create a technology-based need for South Texas counties – Alice Echo News-Journal

Premont  Independent School District in partnership with the Rural Schools Innovation Zone (RSIZ) is a national finalist for the $100,000 Rural Tech Project. 
RSIZ, which is a collaboration of the rural school districts in Freer, Falfurrias and Premont joined forces to participate in an innovative program in 2019. 
The RSIZ, which is governed by a non-profit board including regional educational leaders and district representatives, is helping transform the rural school experience by providing high-quality preparation for post-secondary success. Elements of the RSIZ model have been piloted, with more than 100 students accessing specialized coursework at the other campuses and early college high school programming through Texas A&M University – Kingsville, Del Mar College and Coastal Bend College. 
Leaders in Future Technology (LIFT), is a collaboration of 25 students from the three districts that applied for an application under the U.S. Department of Education to participate in a technology competition and learning program. The South Texas students were one out of 78 applications throughout the nation to participate. 
The group will create, design and implement a technology-driven community-based need throughout the three counties. The main goal will identify a specific community issue that they wish to address with a technology-enabled solution. The LIFT students have until this summer to get a plan in place and at that point, they are traveling to Austin to pick the brains of the big tech giants to gain insight. After Austin, the group will come together and complete the project and work-based learning experience.
“This project is a two-year community implementation program,” RSIZ Executive Director Mike Gonzalez said.”Some of the students will start the process and pass the torch for next year’s group to compete in the final competition.” 
“LIFT was awarded $100,00 to start the program,” said superintendent Steve VanMatre.”We bought the best laptops and equipment for them to get started. ” 
After the technology-based solution is completed, LIFT students will compete with other districts in the nation by a panel of judges in the spring of 2023. 
“It will be a tough panel but I think this is a great experience for the students, innovative and exciting for the area,” VanMatre added. 


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