By now, most people are familiar with the 4Rs waste reduction hierarch: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, & Rot. At Wood Middle School in Alameda, teachers, students and parent volunteers are working together to raise the profile of a 5th R- Repair.
With funding from the Altamont Education Advisory Board, teacher Nancy Ely was able to purchase sets of tools, equipment, and spare parts to create an after-school engineering and technology program for students interested in learning computer repair, web design, animation, robotics and other skills.
Ely, a history teacher also holds a degree in computer science. She was inspired to start the club after participating in Purdue University's EPICS (Engineering Projects in Community Service-Learning) program. EPICS aims to teach students science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through hands on inquiry and design processes.
Working with the school's PTA, Ely recruited two amazing parent volunteers to help lead the core work of the Teen Tech program: computer repair and refurbishment. Working in teams, students learn to tackle both hardware and software challenges on donated computers. As they become more proficient under the watchful eye of their mentors, students begin to take on the task of providing free computer repair for community members- usually family members with broken equipment.
http://www.rcrservice.com/), volunteers twice each week and teaches students the fundamentals of computer diagnostics and repair. Morse possesses a unique mix of boundless energy and limitless patience which she uses to fully engage the students.Parent Liza Morse, an IT professional who runs her own computer repair business (Remote Computer Repair Service -
Using a hands on process, students learn in context as new challenges arise. On a recent Friday afternoon, Morse was teaching the students about sector and cluster errors that might occur on computer discs. Using a combination of technical language, metaphor and pantomime, Morse made sure students understood the causes and implications of the type of error they discovered while working on one family's computer.
Parent Henry Stohner, an IT professional, also volunteers twice each week. He is impressed by the student's curiosity and focus, but realizes that those attributes must be supported, "One of the things that makes this so successful is that the students get to work with trained professionals with experience in this field- sure they could google around for solutions, but we are able to make sure they have a broad understanding of a computer's hardware and software systems."
Recruiting just from the 6th grade class, two sections of Teen Techs filled within days. The program now runs a waiting list of students eager to learn more about computer repair and technology.
To learn more about Teen Techs or to take advantage of their services, visit: http://www.teentechs.org/
Additional news about Teen Techs: http://alameda.patch.com/announcements/ground-breaking-after-school-program-at-wood-middle-school