from Technology & Learning
Silver Seal Antimicrobial
Wash your hands all you like. Chances are if you have computer keyboards in class, you could still get sick with a norovirus, the antibiotic resistant staph infection MRSA, or one of the thousands of other contagions that hit schools every year. According to University of Arizona scientist Dr. Charles Gerba, computer keyboards and mice can have about 400 times more germs than a toilet seat. The Silver Seal Shield keyboard may help. It is made from an antimicrobial plastic that contains silver ions, a natural germ repellant. The boards are also dishwasher safe, which makes disinfecting that much easier.
The Trouble with Txt
A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life project confirms what many worried English teachers have reported—64 percent of teens admit that they insert some informal writing styles used in personal electronic communication into their writing for school. Some 25 percent have used emoticons in their school writing; 50 percent have used informal punctuation and grammar; and 38 percent have used text shortcuts such as "LOL," meaning "laugh out loud."
Richard Sterling, chair of the advisory board for the National Commission on Writing, executive director emeritus of the National Writing Project and senior fellow at the College Board, says, "We think these findings point to a critical strategy question for all educators: How can we connect the enthusiasm of young people for informal, technology-based writing with classroom experiences that illuminate the power of well-organized, well-reasoned writing?" For the full report, go to techlearning.com.
No Hanna Montana?
Search engine site netTrekker.com now publishes a quarterly index of the most popular search terms by students with games taking the top spot this spring. "Search engines like Google and Yahoo pull together lists of the most popular keyword queries, underscoring our nation's interests and fixations and showcasing trends and patterns," says Thinkronize CEO Randy Wilhelm. "Our report offers a different view—a real-time school-based mirror of what our children are searching for—both for academic purposes and out of genuine curiosity." The now used by more than 11 million students, 600,000 teachers, and 20,000 schools in all 50 states in the United States. The total number of unique search terms for the spring quarter was 1,844,677.
Most popular student search terms
- Civil War
- George Washington
- Abraham Lincoln
- Math Games
The Future Continued
Pennsylvania's Classrooms for the Future program is now in full effect. The state's Department of Education has delivered more than 81,900 laptops, 4,075 interactive whiteboards, targeted professional development, and myriad technology tools to enhance learning at 257 schools in 213 districts. "Our teachers are in awe of the interactive whiteboards' capabilities," notes Cheryl Potteiger, the Hamburg Area School District's assistant superintendent. "The whiteboards offer assessments, resources, and dynamic instructional tools that encourage teachers and students to collaborate and interact." Seeing the technology's immediate success in the high school, the district plans to install interactive whiteboards in every core classroom in each of the district's six schools by the end of the 2008-'09 school year, giving the district's 2,700 students and 185 teachers the opportunity to benefit from 21st-century learning tools.
According to Potteiger, professional development for teachers and administrators has been key to the program's success, Hamburg employs a full-time Classrooms for the Future coach, Teresa Freiwald, who serves as a constant resource for the teachers. Freiwald encourages teachers to use the technology, and she helps teachers identify new approaches to lessons through seamless technology integration.
The annual FIRST Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta last month had more than 1,500 student teams from the U.S. and seven other nations building and operating their own robots from a kit of hundreds of parts. This year's game, called "FIRST Overdrive," tested students' and their robots' ability to race around a track knocking down 40-inch inflated balls and passing them either over or under a six-and-a-half-foot overpass.
Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and other robotic devices, started the program in 1989. The mission: to motivate young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math while building life skills (FIRST is an acronym—For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). "It is inspiring the next generation of innovators and engineers," says Kamen. "Years from now, some of the students who competed in the Georgia Dome will be inventing solutions to society's most challenging problems."
The organization also recognized the recipients of educational scholarships worth nearly $10 million from the most prestigious science and engineering schools in the country, such as Georgia Institute of Technology, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Purdue University. Along with the robotics competition, FIRST also hosts a Tech Challenge for high school students, the FIRST LEGO League for children 9–14 years old, and the Junior FIRST LEGO League for kids 6–9 years old.
To learn how to compete next year, go to www.usfirst.org
Digital Gaps Facing Special Populations
Children in low-income families are half as likely to have a computer as are children in households with annual incomes over $75,000, are a third as likely to have Internet access, and are a sixth as likely to have access to broadband.
Native American: 41%
African American: 43%
Asian American: 75%
Home Internet access among children ages seven to 17 varies widely by ethnicity.
Of school children ages seven to 17, only 29% of those in households with annual incomes of less than $15,000 use a home computer to complete school assignments, compared to 77% of those in households with annual incomes of $75,000 or more.
Among people age 15 or older, only 24.3% of those with disabilities use the Internet at home, compared to 50.5% of those without disabilities.
Firepower, circa 1980: In T&L's first-ever issue, September 1980, editors celebrated the release of the latest in Radio Shack technology, the TRS-80 III, a high-speed computer that featured "powerful BASIC," a real-time clock, and for the 16K model—both upperand lower-case letters. Now that's raw power.
Contests, grants, and other ways to get the bucks.
The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation will make its annual Lindbergh Grants. Any adult may apply. The awards recognize those who are working on projects to maintain a balance between the advancements of technology and the preservation of the natural/human environment. There will be 8-10 grants of $10,580 awarded for 2009. Download a PDF at the Web site to apply—all applications must be postmarked by deadline.
Deadline: June 12, 2008
The Discovery Education Teacher Challenge, sponsored by 3M, is open to teachers who are members of the Discovery Educator Network, a global community of 30,000 educators. One teacher will be awarded the Discovery Education Network Science Teacher of the Year award and a special prize. Five teachers will win an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, for the competition finals.
Deadline: June 15, 2008
Bridgestone-Firestone is sponsoring the 2008 Safety Scholars Video Contest, which awards three $5,000 college scholarships for the most compelling and effective short videos that drive home life-saving messages on auto and tire safety. In addition, the top 10 winners will receive a new set of Bridgestone tires. Currently enrolled students aged 16–21 are eligible to enter. The first 300 video entries will be accepted for the contest; grand prize– winning videos will be announced August 8.
Deadline: June 24, 2008
Teachers with at least three years of experience teaching high school journalism and who have taught/advised during the 2007-'08 academic year are encouraged to apply for the 2008 National High School Journalism Teacher of the Year Award sponsored by the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund (or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org). The winning teacher will receive a package of honors and prizes, including the opportunity to give a speech at the Journalism Education Association in St. Louis, MO, in November. The teacher's journalism program will receive a state-of-the-art laptop computer; one student will be awarded a $1,000 college scholarship. All travel and accommodations will be paid.
Deadline: July 1, 2008
Samsung, Inc. and Microsoft Corp. will sponsor the Hope for Education Essay Contest. All U.S. residents are invited to nominate their community school for the award by writing a 100-word essay on how technology has helped educate them about solving environmental problems. The top prize-winning school will win $200,000 in technology and software from Samsung and Microsoft along with $5,000. Thirty first-prize winners will be awarded $60,000 in technology and software and a $1,000 prize. All winning schools also receive DIRECTV cash grants and other prizes.
Deadline: August 31, 2008