The Notre Dame Catholic School computer lab's older machines have moved to classrooms, replaced by 30 new state-of-the-art flat-screen ones, thanks to a thoughtful benefactor. "We received a very generous donation of $50,000 for technology," said principal Lou Whitaker. Not only are the computers in the lab new, the lab itself has been redone, much of the work done by parents. "It was an extra room used for extended day (care)," Whitaker said. "Over the holidays it was painted, rewiring started, tables brought in."
In the lab students learn basic technology, she said, including Microsoft Word, Excel and Access and how to make PowerPoint presentations. It serves kindergarten through eighth grade, helping students practice note-taking skills, learn technology usage, report writing and presentation skills.
The new technology also includes six Smart boards. "It's an interactive whiteboard that really gets the children involved," Whitaker said. "It's connected to the Internet."
Whitaker gave an example of how a Smart board might be used. An amoeba can be shown on the board, she explained. The one-celled organism can then be labeled by writing on the board and then the whole thing can be printed. "They're wonderful!' Whitaker said.
"I'm fully impressed with them so far," Anthony Smith, the technology coordinator, said of the new machines. "They're faster. They have all the updated software that the kids need. I like for them to become familiar with what's current and to be prepared when they go to high school.''
Fifth-graders Harry Flanagan, 10, and Olivia Blair, 11, have their own observations about their lab's new hardware. "They look more fancy," Harry said. "We can do more on PowerPoint and Word."
"It's always good to have new stuff," said Olivia. "When I first came here the old ones, the screens were a little dim and they were a little slow. We can do more on PowerPoint and Word. It's fun to learn and it's a lot faster."
Olivia has been particularly impressed with the computers' "special effects," as she called them. "When you paste a picture off the Internet, you can make it 3D. On PowerPoint, there are new designs you can use."
Smith's goal is to help the students from as early as kindergarten to organize their thoughts, using pictures at first, then progressing to words. He hopes they'll be sufficiently proficient with modern software programs to serve them well wherever they attend high school.
"That's the goal," he said. "They should be pretty well-prepared once they leave here."