Technicity Times
    Issue 2• February 2003


Taming the Technology Beast - Long Beach CORAL Youth Institute
Students Brief Apple Execs

By Les G. Peters

Students from the Long Beach CORAL Youth Institute recently attended an "executive briefing" with Apple Computers. While there, they had the opportunity to tell executives how they could better design the computer company's iBook for elementary schools.

The students demonstrated their technology skills by using all of Apples' computers (G4s, PowerBooks, iMacs, iBooks). Four of the students were selected to present their projects from the CORAL Youth Institute website ( during the briefing. Afterwards, one of the Apple executives came up to the Youth Institute staff and said they were very impressed with the student's presentation and thought it was scripted out before hand. It was not, the students prepared just two minutes before the presentation.

At that briefing, I saw everything that the Long Beach CORAL Youth Institute stood for: providing underserved high school students every opportunity to use technology as a supportive tool to better themselves and the Long Beach community.

The Long Beach CORAL Youth Institute is a place of academic support, personal growth, service learning, team building, unique experiences and technology. It is a place where high school students of various ethnicities, ages and skill levels come to share and learn about themselves and each other and how they can better their community.

The students learn during an intense eight-week youth institute that technology can be used to better themselves and their community. Half way through the eight weeks they learn that technology/computers is only a tool to help them succeed. A tool that becomes powerful in the hands of those who develop a meaningful relationship with their peers, community and younger children.

On-going academic support

Upon graduating, the high school students learn that the Youth Institute staff is there to provide them academic support. Students are allowed to checkout iBooks (laptops), DV cameras and LCD projectors to do their class projects. By allowing students to take technology home they can work at their own pace and show their families how to use it as well. On a daily bases students have come back and told staff members that they have raised their grade by one or two letter grades. Students have become computer lab assistants at their high schools, and in some cases, have taught their computer teachers about new technology.

From the first day they go through a journey of personal growth. They learn how to listen and speak from their heart, something they wouldn't be able to do in high school because of their social groups. They become a close-knit family. They learn tolerance and respect for other cultures and beliefs. Students step out of their box and learn to trust each other.

Service learning - giving back to the community

Service learning is an experience of giving back to the community. Students do a community service project at one of the six CORAL elementary school sites throughout the year. They use that tool to empower elementary age children with project-based learning activities. First graders are learning how to use the desktop in accessing a local area network. Fourth graders are learning how to morph a picture using Photoshop. Fifth graders are using DV cameras and non-linear editing systems to tell a story. Elementary age children are like fish to water when it comes to technology.

Team building

Team building and providing unique experiences are another important aspect of the Youth Institute. Students who are entering the Youth Institute often think that it's about technology. However, through unique experiences and team building they learn how to overcome obstacles by working together. For example, students have repelled off a 200 foot cliff in Yosemite, had to find their way back using only a map & compass, and many even flew in an airplane for the first time. All of these are very unique experiences that require team building. A majority of the students do not have the resources to do these types of activities and learn that as a group they can help each other overcome the task at hand.

Technology is an ever-changing beast -- a beast that the Youth Institute graduates have skillfully tamed with their eagerness to learn and understand

Les Peters is Assistant Youth Institute Director for the Coral Youth Institute, .