- While Kentucky is in the top tier of states using computers in schools, home access lags the rest of the nation. During the pilot phase of "No Child Left Offline," 500 low-income 8th graders will receive refurbished computers to take home to their families.
- Come the new year, schools across Minnesota will benefit from an unexpected source of technology funding. Some $50 million will be distributed to school districts statewide, coming from the unclaimed portion of consumer rebates mandated in the Microsoft class action settlement.
- Floridaâ€™s Pinellas County School System is piloting a laptop computer program at Perkins Elementary School. The 110 third graders use their computers during the day to read online textbooks and do math problems and then take home at the end of the day to use for research and homework assignments.
- Students at Garfield Elementary School in Port Huron, MI are using an interactive whiteboard to explore new concepts. In the process, they are not only enjoying the new interactive technology, but also staying actively involved and learning from one another as they share ideas and explain their unique solutions.
- A new telescope, the Large Binocular Telescope, has joined the limited ranks of ground-based telescopes capable of looking far enough into deep space to be able to answer fundamental questions about the universe.
Kentucky Launches â€œNo Child Left Offlineâ€
"No Child Left Offline" is a project that will provide refurbished surplus computers to low-income 8th grade students across Kentucky. Connect Kentucky, a nonprofit organization that promotes technology-based economic development, is coordinating the effort, with support from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Department for Innovation and Commercialization in the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet. The group will refurbish a supply of surplus state computers that no longer meet state minimum requirements, but that can be useful in the homes of families currently without access to technology. During the pilot phase, 500 8th graders will receive refurbished computers, along with software and a printer, to take home to their families. The Kentucky Department of Education will work with school officials in five of the stateâ€™s eastern counties to determine which households to consider. Governor Ernie Fletcher has endorsed the effort, saying that access to technology can improve the lives of Kentuckians and this program "is a model for the commonwealth." The effort is an attempt to address the digital divide among households in Kentucky. While the state ranks among the top five in the nation with respect to computer use in schools, it ranks 45th in terms of computer use at home. About a third of low-income 8th grade students in Kentucky do not have computers at home. As technology becomes more central to the education process, children without consistent access are at a disadvantage. Eventually the state hopes to refurbish and distribute 2,000 computers a year. Technology vendors have joined the effort, providing software and printers. The project complements Governor Fletcherâ€™s â€œPrescription for Innovation,â€ a comprehensive broadband deployment and adoption plan that will blanket Kentucky with high-speed Internet access by 2007.
MN Reaps Technology Windfall
Come the new year, schools across Minnesota will benefit from an unexpected source of technology funding. Some $50 million will be distributed to school districts statewide, The money is the unclaimed portion of consumer rebates intended for people who purchased specific Microsoft products between May 18, 1994, to March 17, 2003. Following the class action settlement for overcharges on software purchases, Microsoft issued $174,5 million in vouchers to customers in Minnesota. But much of that money went unclaimed and the court decision provided that half of any unclaimed amount go to the schools. A claims administrator is still finalizing consumer and business claims, so the amount distributed to each school district might fluctuate as much as 10 percent, according to the Minnesota Department of Education. The amount each district will receive is based on the number of low-income students in each district when compared to the state total. Districts seeking settlement credit had to submit technology plans to a claims administrator The plans must include what districts plan to do with the credit, the use of which is restricted to hardware, software and professional development relating to technology. Districts cannot begin purchasing items until Jan. 27 and no credit can be used after 2012. The Duluth school district could receive as much as $800,000. St. Louis County Schools, which includes seven rural K-12 schools, will receive about $187,000. Most districts had no problem describing their plans for the unexpected windfall. They have five year technology plans in place and the unexpected funding allows them to pursue a â€œwish listâ€ of products and services or to concentrate the money on meeting a specific need, such as leadership training for technology integration.
Source:Duluth News Tribune
Third Graders Get Laptops
One-to-one computing programs are found most frequently at the middle and high school levels. But Floridaâ€™s Pinellas County School System is putting laptop technology into the hands of its elementary school students and plans to build up from there. At Perkins Elementary School, five third-grade classrooms are participating in the pilot program. The 110 third graders use their computers during the day to read textbooks and do math problems and then take home with them at the end of the day to use for research and homework assignments. Few students at Perkins already had a computer at home, so the pilot is extending the learning opportunity for many children. About one in four third graders at Perkins read below grade level and struggle with academics. Last year the technology specialist at Perkins experimented with wireless technology by borrowing enough laptops from several departments to outfit one classroom. Seeing students become responsible for their own learning and noting the way the technology integrated the classroom day — with reading and math periods blending seamlessly into each other — convinced school administrators that one-to-one wireless computing was one way of helping students achieve greater and more authentic learning.
Source:St. Petersburg Times
Interactive Whiteboard Sparks Sharing
First graders at Garfield Elementary School in Port Huron, MI are using an interactive whiteboard to explore new concepts. Since first graders love to touch things anyway, moving objects around and drawing lines by just sliding a finger over the boardâ€™s slick surface keeps these small students engaged and active learners. Interactive whiteboards are similar to the dry-erase whiteboards found in many classrooms, but they connect to a computer and digital projector and respond to touch. In a typical first grade lesson, students take turns coming up to the board and moving objects — such as a tree or a rock — into circles that represent things that are living or that have never been alive. Students explain their decisions to classmates and other first graders share their ideas on how to make appropriate classifications. At other grade levels, students use the whiteboard for brainstorming activities, to build and experiment with geometric figures or to mark up science experiments. Teachers advance screens on the whiteboard by using a special control palette that mimics the controls they would use if they were working with the software on a computer. Having a software application or an Internet site easily visible to all students in the classroom encourages participation, even from typically shy students. Students learn not just from the teacher or the application, but also from one another. Anything written on the whiteboard can be saved and printed, emailed or published to the web, so students who miss a class where the whiteboard is used can get a set of class notes.
Source:The Times Herald
Peering into Deep Space
A new telescope joins the limited ranks of ground-based telescopes capable of looking far enough into deep space to be able to answer fundamental questions about the universe. The new Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), an instrument with a light-gathering power 24 times greater than the Hubble Space Telescope, is mounted atop the 10,000+ ft heights of Mt. Graham in Arizona. Astronomers believe that the LBT will open totally new possibilities in the investigation of the farthest — and thus youngest — galaxies. Advances in optics and instrumentation combined with high-power computers is making it possible to build ground-based telescopes like the LBT at far less than the cost than the Hubble, for example. The LBT uses two large mirrors — each 8.4 meters in diameter — that focus like field glasses. By combining the two views, the instrument is able to collect as much light as a single telescope with an 11.8-meter mirror. By comparison, the Hubble Space Telescope's mirror is 2.4 meters in diameter. The telescope is also designed to adapt to viewing conditions and it works with a combination of specialized instruments that can do such things as gather infrared images, detect the composition of the surface of stars, compensate for the blurring caused by turbulence in Earth's atmosphere, and boost image sharpness to a quality far better than that of Hubble.