|TechKnow instructor Nick Coppolino (center), a teacher at Chesapeake High School, assists students with their graduation demonstrations.|
At the recent Dell TechKnow graduation, it was hard to tell who was more excited about completion of the popular computer course – the students or their family members.
“Now that he’ll have his own computer, he won’t be asking as much to use my laptop!” exclaimed Robin Price, who watched delightedly as her 8th-grade grandson, Dionte W., clicked through a PowerPoint presentation. Each of the students in the summer course had prepared similar presentations for family members on this special day.
Dionte’s mother, LaTonya W., nodded approvingly. “He’s crazy about computers. I have to take him to the library (to use its computers) every other day,” she said of her son, who is considering a career as a computer graphic artist and is especially interested in cartooning. “He’s been waiting to get into this course all year.”
Across the computer lab in the basement of Catonsville High School, 13-year-old Darnell B. also dazzled his grandparents with his prowess with a computer. Not only did he demonstrate what he had learned about accessing information online, he also pulled apart the machine’s processor and pointed out integral parts of the computer.
|Dell computer monitors await new homes in the computer lab at Catonsville High School.|
“It’s fun,” Darnell said of the TechKnow program. “I think it will be helpful to me in a lot of ways.” As he prepares to enter eighth grade at Lansdowne Middle School, Darnell says he is considering an engineering career in the future.
The future was on display on July 22 as 40 of the TechKnow program’s second year of graduates prepared to take their newfound skills back to their schools. The program has been offered to students attending Lansdowne and Woodlawn middle schools, and in its second year has proven to be a popular summer option for many students from each school.
Part of its popularity stems from the subject matter. Student not only learn how computers work but they become skilled in taking apart and reassembling their Dell desktops. They learn what “heat sinks” are and what BIOS means, and they are schooled in safe computer use and Internet navigation.
“It wasn’t all playing with the computer. They did take three tests, so there was a lot of studying, too,” said Charlene Bonham, manager of the Office of Career and Technology Education for the Baltimore County Public Schools.
But another feature of the program is perhaps the biggest draw. Through a partnership with Baltimore County Public Schools and Dell Computers, course students actually take home their classroom computers at the end of the two-week course. For some students, it’s the first time they’ve owned a computer.
“Now that he’s gone through this course, he wants to update and get into all the computers at home,” Donna C. said of her son, Thomas C., a 13-year-old eighth grader at Lansdowne. “Now he’ll have one of his own to work on, too.”
|TechKnow course coordinator Anne Horner (left) meets with parents during the graduation ceremony.|
Ms. Bonham knows the skills learned through the TechKnow program will benefit the middle schoolers far into their futures. “I’d encourage them to look into their high school technology programs to put their skills to use,” she said shortly before she and program coordinator Anne Horner handed out graduation certificates to students taking the first TechKnow session, half of the program’s 80 total students. “And, of course,” she added, “there are lots of opportunities in careers in computers and technology.”
She didn’t have to convince Thomas C., the star of his family this day, his siblings and cousins clamoring around him for a look inside his computer processor. “It’s been fun and interesting,” said Thomas. “I’ve learned a lot.”
By Charles Herndon, Communications Specialist