Spending wisely: DC school funds innovative tech programs

Rick Kelsey, STEM coordinator and technology director at McKinley Technical High School in Washington, D.C., has developed some unique ways for this citywide public high school and career academy to use stimulus funding for educational technology.

1) The NSF-ITEST Mentoring and Collaboration Grant allows McKinley to train students to serve as technology mentors to other students, adults, and seniors. (http://itest.gmu.edu)

2) An AARP grant supports trained mentors who run technology workshops for D.C.–area seniors on the McKinley STEM Motor Coach. These mentors also lead tech workshops on the motor coach at under-performing D.C. area schools and in the D.C. community and conduct them at major edu-tech conferences.

3) McKinley developed an after-school and weekend Wii Exercise Lab for students who want to participate in a unique gym class led by student mentors.

4) Using online courses (Blackboard) and student technology mentors reduces instructor costs. For the 2009–2010 academic year, the school is exploring the idea of having 100 students in a large computer lab that will be led by just one instructor and six student mentors.

5) D.C. government summer-workforce development funds are used to pay instructors and students (about 800) to receive 240 hours of project-based training in IT, engineering, biotechnology, or mass communication.