$2 million from the Indiana Department of Education

More than 30 school districts across Indiana will benefit from federal grants to upgrade computers and electronic technology.

In December, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Suellen Reed announced that 33 school corporations will share more than $2 million over the next two years to improve technology as a learning tool in the classroom.

The Indiana Department of Education awarded the grants on a competitive basis, studying schools’ financial situation, quality of education, number of computers, and classrooms connected to the internet. Statements of students’ technology needs at the schools also were considered.

Seventeen community school corporations received $100,000 each: Alexandria, Brownstown, Eastbrook, East Porter County, East Washington, Elwood, Charles A. Beard Memorial (Knightstown), Lake Ridge Schools, Medora, Mount Vernon, North Adams, Orleans, Paoli, School City of Hammond, Spencer-Owen, Springs Valley, and West Clark.

Other school districts received lesser amounts. The money came from the federal Technology Literacy Challenge Fund.


$915,000 from the Toyota USA Foundation

The Toyota USA Foundation has approved grants totaling $915,000 to fund four education programs designed to enhance the teaching of K-12 math and science throughout the United States:

• A grant totaling $130,000 will enable the DuBois-Hamer Institute for African-American Achievement at California State University, Northridge, to develop a culturally based demonstration model to instruct African-American middle school students in math and science.

• A grant of $250,000 over two years will allow the Center for Talented Youth at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University to complete the development, testing, and eventual national distribution of mathematics software designed to help students develop spatial, inductive, and deductive reasoning skills through manipulations and investigations of patterns and mathematical laws.

• The Fairmount Center for Science and Mathematics Education at Wichita State University in Kansas will receive $375,000 over three years to implement the JASON project—a year-long, expedition-based, multimedia science education program—for 3,000 to 5,000 middle school students throughout Kansas.

• Purdue University’s School of Education will receive $160,000 to support the implementation of the Children’s Literacy and Science Project for training teachers of elementary students in the use of journals as an effective tool for science learning.

Schools are encouraged to partner with nonprofit community organizations or institutions of higher education to win these awards. To request an application and guidelines, contact the Toyota USA Foundation at (310) 468-6766.


Free computers for 30 Illinois families

Thirty families in the East St. Louis, Ill., area recently received refurbished computers for their homes free of charge, thanks to a program that aims to give poor children more computer time.

Dan Baden, associate dean and professor in the School of Education at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, heads a program called Bridging the Digital Divide, which provides internet access at seven after-school program sites in East St. Louis and one in Fairmont City.

The program, which also provides refurbished computers to families and matches students with online mentors, is financed through a four-year, $40,000 grant from MCI Worldcom. Baden says having internet access could help poor children build computer and research skills that will be important later in life.

Baden told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he chose the sites because families in East St. Louis and Fairmont City are less likely to have computers at home than families in other cities.

Nationally, the best estimate is that 65 to 70 percent of kids have internet access in their homes. In East St. Louis, its less than 5 percent, he said.

And while all East St. Louis schools have computers with internet access, Baden said, students typically get less than a half hour per week of computer use, which is not enough time to build skills or to help the students feel comfortable with using a computer.