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ORHS mobile computer lab enhances science lessons

Biology students work on computers from the mobile lab while Oak Ridge Foundation President Scott Spriggs, Principal Steve Wehr and foundation board member Allan Priest, left to right in the background, discuss the benefits of this technolog. Village Life photo by Noel Stack
Biology students work on computers from the mobile lab while Oak Ridge Foundation President Scott Spriggs, Principal Steve Wehr and foundation board member Allan Priest, left to right in the background, discuss the benefits of this technolog. Village Life photo by Noel Stack

Seeing leads to learning thanks to Oak Ridge High School’s new mobile computer lab.

Science students now have endless data, experiments and tools at their diposal with the donation from the Oak Ridge High School Community Foundation. The mobile lab consists of 20 laptop computers in a secure locker on wheels.

“Other than the teacher’s computer we really didn’t have a computer for the students to use (in the classroom),” said Principal Steven Wehr.

Instead, science classes had to head across campus to a computer lab with outdated equipment.

What a difference a $28,000 donation makes. In Stan Iverson’s biology class students using mobile lab computers got a chance to play with evolution – giving bunnies mutations and sending in the wolves — using a program set up online in Colorado.

“This engages all the senses and allows the students to interact and really think about what they’re doing,” Iverson said.

“Before, we were limited to just using textbooks,” said fellow biology teacher Casey Rhyan, adding that the mobile computer lab allows teachers to research, build and plan hands-on, interactive lessons.

Physics teacher Eric Larsen said the computers help capture students’ attention. “Now they can gather data fast enough to see things moving through the air, to see things falling to the floor,” said Larsen, who also uses the computers in his freshman class to see the real data from a solar telescope. “We don’t have to simulate it any more.”

Wehr started working with the foundation at the begninng of the school year. The foundation has traditionally focused on capital projects, Contributing a lot of money to improve Trojan Stadium and the high school’s gym. With those projects complete, the foundation created focus groups to decide where to contribute next.

Foundation President Scott Spriggs, who toured science classes with foundation board member Allan Priest and Wehr earlier this month, said the mobile lab had appeal because, “It embraces the use of technology and it’s great that it’s mobile so all the kids can use it.”

“We were extremely fortunate to have the donors within the foundation and the foundation itself to help us,” Wehr said.

The foundation gets its funding from football season tickets, scoreboard advertising, donations and a golf tournament fundraiser. For more information about the foundation or to make a donation visit orhsfoundation.com.

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Posted by on Apr 20 2012.
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