Case study: Kennedy High School

“Let them try the technology and see what they can do with it” says Dr LaRue Moore of
the IT Academy at Kennedy High School in Richmond, California, “because they need to
feel like they can succeed in today’s world.”

Many of the students at Kennedy High School have more than their fair share of challenges to overcome – from living in high crime areas in the shadow of Silicon Valley to learning to speak and read English while simultaneously learning their core subjects.
Dr Moore sees technology and STEAM education as a source of inspiration for his students, and a path to a brighter future. The first step in Dr Moore’s students’ journey with the pi-top computers is to “go play” and get to know the technology first-hand, overcoming any fears or uncertainty. The next step is to learn to code using Python, understand the concepts involved with careers with connected devices and the Internet of Things, participate in “hackathons”, begin exploring robotics, digital arts, networking, and design. He gives his students two years of experience across many technology platforms so they can decide on a direction for their future careers. The students complete final projects that give them college credit and a path forward to the career of their choice.

"My job is to get them to believe that they can be successful in whatever career they choose."

pi-top systems are perfect for what I do in the classroom,” says Dr Moore. “They are
durable, self-contained and very convenient. I need to quickly bring out the pi-top computers and prepare for 40 students, then I need to quickly put them away again. The
design saves me a great deal of time and effort.” They also give students experience
with the Linux operating system which runs many servers in the cloud.

Once the pi-top systems are in the classroom, Dr Moore’s students use them in a variety of exciting ways. For example, they worked on a service learning project called “Resilient by Design” with the University of California’s Center for Cities + Schools (Y-PLAN) to study techniques for improving the world around them. Students proposed the use of sensors connected wirelessly to their pi-top computers to measure air quality, flood waters, groundwater supplies and more. “One student even decided that he could measure a tsunami warning system by connecting to oceanic data from buoys, feeding the information back to his pi-top,” he explained.

Dr Moore’s hope is that by opening their eyes to what’s possible, students will see they can get “serious jobs” that lead to future career success. As Dr Moore puts it, “my job is to get them to believe that they can be successful in whatever career they choose”

This article was first published in 'Learning by Making' magazine Issue 1
If you’d like to find out more about how 'learning by making’ with pi-top can help you, your students and your school, get in touch here.

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