High school seniors took the annual Congress in Action event to a new level by incorporating technology and creating a paperless event. Gone were the paper ballots previously used to vote on each student-proposed bill. Instead, the mock members of Congress voted using Google Forms. With their Chromebooks on their laps, not only was voting paperless, it was also instantaneous. The Rules Committee knew immediately if a bill passed or failed, without having to walk around gathering them and taking the time to count them.
“It’s important that we use technology in our school events in order to prepare students for the online world they are entering,” said Bryan Sarandrea, coordinator of social studies and business, K-12. He added that online voting was also better for the environment and therefore served the event well.
Other aspects of Congress in Action were kept traditional. Students proposed bills just as actual members of Congress would do, after researching topics in social studies classes and writing position papers to present at the event. Audience members, also acting as members of Congress, would argue for or against each bill before the entire group would vote.
While some bills passed and others did not, the experience gave participants a real-life feel for how our government works. “This is a realistic peek at the inner workings of Congress,” Mr. Sarandrea said. “While preparing their bills, they also hone their research and writing skills and then their presentation skills during the actual event.” He said that Congress in Action provides a well-rounded experience and going paper free brought the event into current times.
The Rules Committee, which kept order throughout the day, was comprised of Francis Marrone, Speaker of the House, and Marissa Capozzi, Quinn Letter, Vincent Marchand, Anish Mukhi, Matthew Scicutella and Juliana Vega.
Students were guided in their research by their social studies teachers, including Robert Buonaspina, who organized the activity.