Taming the Technology Beast - Long Beach CORAL
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 (www.lbcoralyi.org)
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
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 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,