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LAPTOPS MAKING HISTORY; STUDENTS' WORK WILL GO TO SMITHSONIAN.

Byline: Karen Maeshiro Daily News Staff Writer

When student Connie Chavez produced a slick informational brochure about volcanoes on the planet Venus using her laptop computer, little did she know her work would end up in the Smithsonian Institution.

A program in which Chavez and 150 other students at Antelope Valley and Littlerock high schools use laptops will become part of a permanent research collection on innovative uses of technology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

``I didn't think anything would come of it. I said, hey, let's play with this,'' said Chavez, an 18-year-old senior at Littlerock High. ``It feels good. It gives me a sense of pride.''

The ``Anytime Anywhere Learning'' program, which is a partnership among the Antelope Valley Union High School District, Microsoft and Toshiba, is geared to improve learning through the use of laptop computers.

Nominated by Shunki Yatsunami, president of Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., the laptop program is part of the 1998 collection, which includes nearly 450 of the year's most innovative applications of technology from 40 states and 19 countries.

The collection will be presented April 6 to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

``Antelope Valley Union High School District is using information technology to make great strides toward remarkable social achievement in education,'' said Dr. David Allison, chairman of the National Museum of American History's Division of Information Technology and Society.

The Antelope Valley district is one of 24 school districts from around the country that started laptop programs two years ago, said Pat Hart, the district's coordinator of education technology.

``There are 24 original pioneer schools, 24 of us who saw the vision,'' Hart said. ``We are just so excited. I've always heard of the Smithsonian and the great things that are there. To realize kids are making history with a new use of technology is just exciting.''

A case study of the district's laptop program and examples of students' work will be housed in the Smithsonian's Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology Innovation, which will be available to scholars and will serve as possible subjects for future symposiums.

``A case study is a way for us to document the work they are doing,'' said Dan O'Neil, who works in the public education division of the Computerworld Smithsonian Awards program, a nonprofit organization that helped create the research collection 10 years ago. ``It means their work will be available to scholars and researchers of future generations and be part of the Smithsonian's Information Age exhibit.''

The district's case study predicted that laptops will become as ubiquitous as the backpacks they are carried in.

``Once the student has the laptop, the playing field is leveled,'' the case study stated. ``Working-class schools, like ours, have just as much access to cutting edge knowledge as the more affluent schools.

``The impact of the program in its second year is impressive. Students who have taken advantage of the opportunity to join the program have learned to become as comfortable with a laptop and its various resources as their parents were with the Encyclopaedia Britannica. As students become proficient with the technology at their fingertips, their core academic knowledge continues to meet and exceed that of their peers.''

Hart said students' work submitted to the Smithsonian includes brochures like the one created by Chavez, mock newspapers on historical events like earthquakes, and CD-ROMs on which students produced interactive visual presentations on different countries using graphics, sound and text.

Chavez, who signed up this year for the program, said she produced the volcano brochure for her geology class.

``I made a brochure with pictures using my laptop computer,'' she said. ``I got all my pictures off the Internet and morphed them. I changed them a lot to where they would fit my brochure.''

Chavez said she and a classmate, Amber Foster, created a fictional newspaper documenting an 1886 earthquake that ravaged North Carolina. They called it ``The Daily Reaper.''

With their laptops, they researched the earthquake on the Internet and used a newsletter-making program to format the publication.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 15, 1998
Words:674
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