Schools are often stuck with obsolete computers—either donated by well-meaning companies and parents, or purchased machines that cannot meet the requirements of current software programs and multimedia projects. These computers still have uses, if you exercise a bit of creativity.

Here are four suggestions:

1. Typing and keyboarding practice. Students cannot use computers effectively without mastering keyboarding skills, so make as many keyboards available as possible.

2. Dumb terminals. Use everything but the CPU (central processing unit) by linking everything else to a network. There are several “terminal server” software programs on the market that enable hook-ups to networks by the leftover “dumb” components—i.e., the monitor, keyboard, and mouse. Check out Microsoft’s Windows NT Terminal Server Edition or Citrix WinFrame.

3. Recycling or repair. Many vocational education programs accept computers that students can refurbish or cannibalize for spare parts.

4. Art and science projects. Even outside of voc-ed classes, students can learn a great deal by taking apart computers (as long as the components with lead and other hazardous materials are handled carefully). For tips on turning computer terminals into aquariums, go to http://www.macaquarium.com.