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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Not So Bad

Hey, today was not so bad!

The electrician came by STeP UP. I looked him in the eyes and said, listen, let me take your number and think about this. It seems this idea of using the internet when there's no electricity sounded really good when I thought it'd only cost like $50, but now that it's more like $250 it's seeming a bit like a money pit. I want to be very careful with the money that we spend for this project so I think I'm going to put it on hold until it's something we really need.

And something we really need, which the teachers are pretty passionate about, is a cabinet to keep our computers. I was going to buy something metal but it seems like it might cost less to make something from wood- and then I can design the thing so that it works perfectly for us.

Thinking about a relatively large case (if we lock it up, it'll be so big it'll be impossible to steal, which is the idea since it will have to be in an unlocked classroom) that is sort of like a cupboard with four shelves. The shelves are divided into three- two longer portions on either side and a small section down the middle. The small section will be where we can put power strips (I think I'm going to buy some new- and DURABLE- power strips online or in the States, provided I can get adapters or something) and the larger section is where we'll keep the computers, lined up on their side like books. Each shelf will hold ten computers, which means there will be 80 computers in the front portion, then the cabinet will extend to the back so that it is two computers deep, creating enough space for a total of 160 computers and about eight power strips. Holes in the cabinet will allow wires to run from the power strips so that you could effectively charge computers WHILE they are in the cabinet. Then there will be three large storage areas below where we can put chargers, mice, extra parts, etc.

I'm going to talk to my friend Faia tomorrow about the exact dimensions- I took a computer home so that we can better visualize it.

One of our students also thought it would be good to take a computer home. She's one of our best students and she's a really sweet girl. I know she wasn't trying to do any harm. I was suspicious of her a few days ago because I left her in the computer room by herself and she had a backpack. I knew the temptation would be too much. Today she came to class late and I watched her as she crept to the back and very slowly took a computer out of her backpack. Unfortunately for her, we spent the first hour cleaning our computers (they look BEAUTIFUL now, most of them look brand new!!!) and re-writing the numbers in fresh permanent marker, so even though she has been taking wonderful care of her computer, the number on it was worn out.

I got the marker from the computer lab, went up to her during class, rewrote the number over the old marks and very calmly whispered to her, "Leave the computer here tonight, ok?"

The look on her face was unforgettable. It was full of embarrassment and remorse. I know she won't take the computer home anymore. I know I dealt with the situation really well and I'm actually pretty proud of myself, but I still hate the fact that she won't be able to keep this computer. She's not one to steal I know this computer means the world to her.

Class went pretty well. We covered the first half of Lesson 7 before the electricity went out. The teachers...they are amazing!! They really rehearsed everything last night and were so effective in teaching Lesson 7. I was so proud. At our teacher class, I asked if they wanted to get started on Lesson 10 already or if they wanted to review anything. They asked if we could review Lesson 8. If that will help them to have a class that was as effective as the class today, then sure, we can review.

So that's what we did.

I'll be honest. When I first learned Etoys, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. It seemed hard, overly technical. But I know that content has been an issue for us in class, since we're not able to use the computers in other disciplines yet. And in that way, Etoys is saving us. We really have something to teach, and something the kids are enjoying-- a LOT! Once you get the technical stuff learned, Etoys is a breeze- and such a new and unique way to learn material.

I'm proud of my teachers. They're doing a great job. Tomorrow we have a meeting with the Ministry of Education (finally) and a couple of the teachers are planning on being there. Then I'm meeting with the US Embassy to see if we can get another summer program going for next year. If we can ensure that, man, that would help things out so much.

1 comment:


Please click the button below to donate to STEP UP OLPC to support the São João school's computer program in São Tomé:

Donate $200 and you will be paying for a computer for at least FIVE very special children at São João (as estimated computer life is five years). Thanks so much!

Want your donation to be tax-deductible? Send a check to STeP UP with OLPC in the memo. Then mail it to:

Eric McClafferty
Kelley and Drye
3050 S St. NW, #400
Washington, DC 20007