Educators from coast to coast are turning for support to the technology experts they trust—their students.

  • In Miramar, Fla., students at the H.D. Perry Middle School have developed expertise in specialties ranging from 3-D graphics to database management, thanks to the “invenTEAM mentors” program. The Florida program derives from a Technology Innovation Challenge Grant project in Olympia, Wash., known as Generation Why (http://genwhy.wednet.edu).

    Generation Why offers an 18-week course that lets each student develop a particular area of expertise and then mentor a teacher interested in integrating technology into the curriculum. Students interested in participating develop a Solutions Process sheet setting forth the rubrics of a particular project. These sheets guide the training of teachers or peers and help students become “certified mentors.”

  • Students from North Carolina to Rhode Island participate in SWAT Teams (Students Working to Advance Technology), the brainchild of North Carolina teacher Lucy Miller. In Rhode Island, at the Narragansett Elementary School, fourth-graders are involved in SWAT in four roles: “Reporters,” who produce school publications, “Web Weavers,” who work on school web sites, “Tech Troopers,” who serve as classroom tech experts, and “Computer Buddies,” who work with young students in labs and classrooms. In a SWAT program in Queens, N.Y., at the Harry Eichler School, student techies teach both teachers and other students the finer points of various software programs.
  • In Kentucky, STLP stands for the Student Technology Leadership Program. A statewide initiative offers resources and help to schools interested in participating in STLP (http://www.kde.state.ky.us/oet/customer/stlp). Each participating school has a “TechTeam” that includes adults as well as students. The teams decide how to address various tech issues, ranging from troubleshooting to training.
  • At Sutton, Mass., Elementary School, students got involved in running technology programs because there was no other source of technical support. Now, students in the Technology Rich Classroom program give mini-workshops at open house, teaching not only the faculty and their peers but also members of the community at large.
  • In the Kanawha City Elementary School in West Virginia, fifth and sixth graders participating in the Compu-Kids program report to school before classes begin. They handle tasks ranging from producing handouts to building the schools web site and publishing a school newsletter and daily video broadcast. Compu-Kids has a waiting list, and participating students must keep up with their schoolwork or be dropped from the program. Kanawha educators say the program appeals not just to the students who have computers at home or who get the best grades. “Some students are motivated by technology,” commented district technology director April Bowles, “even when they’re not into other subjects.”