Bits and Bolts

Monday, February 21, 2011 - 9:03am

School class teaches kids to rebuild computers while fixing the district's machines.

Tech Ed, or "Shop Class", as some of you may remember it being called in high school, has changed over time.

In Minnesota's Lewiston-Altura school district, however, they've embraced that, and in doing so, have been including classes that not only educate, but save the district money.

When Lewiston-Altura Technology Director Gene Berg was setting up a new computer lab several years ago, four of the 24 new computers didn't work.

"I thought, maybe we can change this scenario a little bit," he says.

He did some research, and turned to Joel Ellinghuysen, Lewiston-Altura's Tech Ed teacher, about fixing computers as part of his class.

Now Joel includes a computer session in his 9th grade Intro to Tech class.

It covers various sectors of the technology world; and the students learn about the components, rebuilding, and upgrading of district computers.

Gene and Joel tested the idea first with some refurbished computers that had been donated.

Students fix about 70 computers during the session.

Over the years, that's added up to hundreds of computers, and thousands of dollars the district's saved, all while educating the students.

And even in a still male-dominated field, you'll find girls working alongside the guys.

The district has fully supported Gene and Joel with their efforts, and as far as those two know, they're one of only a few districts that build and rebuild computers in the classroom.

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