Spreading the laptop love
Program one way to teach kids empathy
Friday, March 28, 2008
Through the help of the One Laptop Per Child Program, it’s not hard to pass on the gift of learning to children in developing countries. Donations to the program help buy and deliver laptops to students in third world nations who often have trouble affording even the most basic school supplies.
Since its foundation in 2005 by former MIT Media Lab Director Nicholas Negroponte, the One Laptop Per Child Program has delivered thousands of computers to children in 14 countries. In 2008, the program plans to spread to other nations including Rwanda, Afghanistan and Haiti.
The XO laptops, which cost $200 with delivery, are ideal for small hands and harsh conditions because they’re light, durable and compact. Area isolation isn’t a problem since each laptop is a wireless router that can connect to the Internet and other computers. And no electricity is needed because the machine can be recharged by a crank since it runs on less than a tenth of the power a standard laptop requires.
The laptops don’t only benefit their recipients. In about a year, fifth-grade students in five Forest Park Public School classrooms will connect to five classrooms in the developing world as a result of a new program launched by Forest Park School Superintendent Louis Cavallo. The former teacher says the idea for the program originated after he visited Costa Rica several years ago.
"The schools don’t have the computers, up-to-date books and all of the things we take for granted," he said. "The students on the trip learned a lot about empathy. I wanted to re-create that with the students here. They will learn about the way others live but also about how they can help them. I think they’ll probably learn something about themselves also."
To make your own donation to the One Laptop Per Child Program, go to www.
laptopgiving.org and click donate now.