Computer program is fun and educational – Revelstoke Review

Tim Collins/Press Team

As students in the Revelstoke School Division participate in a program to determine the self-imposed limits and risks of the digital world (see the Screen-ager film article in the Revelstoke magazine), a class from the primary school is exploring a new way to integrate computers into the classroom.

“We have a new technology that we’re trying out in a sixth grade classroom this year, and the results are really amazing,” said Connie Haworth, the teacher in charge of the program’s pilot project.

The program was made possible by a grant from the Department of Education which funded the purchase of ten laptops for the classroom. These computers have special software installed that allows them to connect to an external circuit board through a standard USB port on the computer.

The idea is that students use the circuit board to connect to any number of conductive objects in a way that allows them to interface with the computer in a variety of learning adventures.

“Play-dough is a favorite material they use to connect circuit board wires to other objects. Who knew play-dough was conductive?” Haworth laughs.

Students in the Haworth class team up and use a combination of computer voice recordings and pre-written code snippets which they combine to conduct various learning experiences. In one exercise, they connect wires and configure software to correctly identify geographic locations such as continents. In another exercise, they use fruit and other materials to create musical sounds that react when they touch the material they are using.

“We try to use the computers at least once a week…more often if we have time. Kids learn about electrical conductivity, grounding, computer coding, and using software…all on top of the day’s lesson,” Haworth said.

She added that the program provides basic training in technology, and when students enter high school, some will learn to write their own computer code.

“Students are so engaged that when it’s time to clean up and move on, they’ll complain that it all happened too quickly. It’s a fantastic way to have an obvious curriculum (like learning geography) combined with a hidden curriculum that involves learning electricity and computer language and technology,” Haworth explained.

“The truth is that they learn so quickly that I sometimes have trouble keeping up with their level of knowledge of technology.”

Gordon K. Morehouse