LONDONDERRY — It was like Christmas morning for some Londonderry High students last week.
Juniors and seniors in Advanced Placement environmental science will have their own iPads to use this school year.
The pilot program is an attempt to bring new teaching styles and new technology into the classroom. The project has been in discussion by school officials for a number of months. Now, students are able to use iPads as a learning tool in and out of the classroom.
In the past, smart boards and digital cameras have been introduced to students; the iPad is the newest addition to the family.
“This was the next logical step,” assistant superintendent Andrew Corey said. “It brings engagement and new learning tools into the classroom.”
Londonderry High School principal Jason Parent agreed, saying schools are now technologically rich environments
The pilot project, which cost about $14,300, will provide 34 students and two teachers with iPads to use this school year.
The tablets must be returned at the end of the school year. But students are allowed to use them outside the classroom, provided it is related to schoolwork.
“These will be tools for education, not social devices or toys,” LHS teacher William Knee said.
There also is an iPad for the library circulation desk, intended to aid students in research, and there are two spare iPads in case one needs to be fixed or replaced.
Students taking AP environmental science will have many uses for the iPads.
“Students will utilize the camera function in the field, take them on field trips and even use them for lab reports, saving a lot of paper,” Knee said.
The curriculum and course will only be enhanced by the iPads, he said, but the devices will not take over the learning experience.
Depending on how the students use the iPads, the project may continue in the future. A study is being done by school officials to see how students interact with the iPads, and how student education is affected by them.
If school officials do decide to include more iPads in the budget for next year, they will need to do it by early November.
Knee and Daniel Grant teach AP environmental science, and have 17 students each.
One student took the class as a junior, and is taking it again as a senior.
She will contribute to the schoolwide iPad report as part of her senior project. The student will assess the way class was without the iPad, and then see if the iPad made any significant improvements to the course.
“The kids love them,” grant said. “It was like watching kids open presents on Christmas.”