More than 500 ed-tech companies exhibited at this year’s Florida Educational Technology Conference. Here’s a sampling of news from the exhibitors offering hardware and peripherals:

CDW Government Inc. (CDW-G) and Discovery Education announced the launch of their third annual “Win a Wireless Lab” sweepstakes. The companies are teaming up again this year to give away three wireless computer labs, as well as 30 additional technology prizes, to schools. The three wireless computer lab grand prizes include 20 IBM notebooks with three Cisco access points, 20 Toshiba tablets with three Netgear access points, and 20 Sony notebooks with three Proxim access points. Each wireless lab also includes a Bretford mobile notebook cart that enables the notebooks to be easily transported from one classroom to another. In addition, a Hewlett-Packard (HP) laser printer, an InFocus projector, and an APC back-up unit are part of each grand-prize package. The total value for each package exceeds $40,000. On-site setup and training from CDW-G and Discovery Education are provided to all three grand-prize winners. Additional prizes include 10 Brother Multifunction printers valued at $9,000 to first runners-up, 10 OKI Color Laser printers valued at $3,250 to second runners-up, and curriculum software from Discovery Education to third runners-up. The deadline for applying is May 1.

Dell Inc., known mostly for its computers and servers, discussed at FETC the Dell School Architecture, its portfolio of services designed to make it easier for K-12 educators to meet the rigorous demands of the No Child Left Behind Act. The Dell School Architecture, offered through Dell Services, includes a variety of customized services to help school districts aggregate and report the yearly progress of their students, as well as provide teachers with professional development.

Dell’s K-12 business works directly with education customers to design a program of support, deployment, and training offerings to address the needs of each school, district, or state government agency–from the classroom to school administration to the behind-the-scenes networking and infrastructure that connects them together, Dell said. As one example, Dell can arrange for a series of professional development courses for teachers and administrators in a school district, where they go through a comprehensive training program to help them understand how to use their Dell systems and how to apply them to a classroom setting and make data-driven decisions.

As one of the first customers to take advantage of the Dell School Architecture, Georgia’s Clayton County Public Schools purchased nearly $8 million in Dell technology and related services to create a high-tech learning environment for the 48,000 students in the district. The district’s teachers went through a technology training program when they received their new Dell Latitude notebooks, instructing them on how to quickly integrate the technology into the classroom.

Lexmark International announced three new multifunction products that can print, copy, fax, and scan documents to a network, giving schools the ability to move documents seamlessly from paper to digital formats. The new X632s, X634e and X634dte devices combine improved network printer technology from Lexmark’s family of laser printers with a number of additional enhancements, including color scanning, increased speed, and an easy-to-use, customizable e-Task interface–all at very competitive prices, Lexmark says. The X634e and X634dte can print and copy up to 45 pages per minute for a suggested price of $2,899 and $3,699, respectively. The more compact X632s prints and copies up to 40 pages per minute and costs an estimated $1,999.

Lexmark also promoted its Print Art Educational Program, which donates art-inspired lesson plans, CD-ROMs, and printers to K-12 school districts across the country to help children learn history, language arts, math, and science. Through this program, Lexmark donates either a Lexmark Z53 or a Lexmark Z45 color art-quality inkjet printer to each elementary, middle, and high school in a district. The hardware comes with a warranty and the proper cabling. With this technology, Lexmark also donates a “Print Gallery” CD-ROM–the product of an exclusive collaboration between Lexmark and the largest consortium of art museums in Europe. The disc includes software and approximately 100 high-resolution works of art that allow the students to view, explore, and learn about art masterpieces from the great museums of Europe. Each school also receives a teacher’s guide with sample lesson plans. This guide includes academic exercises that put the CD to use in virtually every discipline, from art, language, and social studies to math and science. In addition, program participants are eligible to receive one donated inkjet cartridge for every three inkjet cartridges purchased. Shipping charges are waived for each order, Lexmark says.

Vernier Software & Technology demonstrated its two latest data collection devices for school science classrooms, EasyTemp and Go! Motion.

Vernier EasyTemp is a temperature sensor that plugs directly into the built-in USB port of a TI-84 Plus or TI-84 Plus Silver Edition graphing calculator from Texas Instruments. An application called Vernier EasyData now comes pre-loaded on TI’s newest graphing calculators, eliminating the need for an additional interface when collecting temperature readings: When you plug the EasyTemp sensor into the calculator, the EasyData program automatically launches, and you are ready to collect data.

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  • As students collect temperature readings with the EasyTemp probe, this information appears in a graph on the calculator in real time, allowing students to visualize the changes as they occur. EasyTemp, which sells for $38, continues Vernier’s focus on lower-cost USB solutions that can plug into a variety of computing devices running a myriad of platforms, giving science instructors a number of options and enabling them to use the technology with whatever platforms they might already be using in their classrooms, Vernier said.

    Vernier Go! Motion is a motion-detection device that plugs into the USB port of any desktop computer and can measure the position (distance) of an object in relation to the sensor, as well as the object’s velocity as it moves. A free software program that accompanies the device can show these data in real time in either a table or a graph. Physics teachers can use the device to teach concepts around incline, slope, acceleration, and more. Go! Motion costs $99, and an adapter is available for an additional cost if you want to use the device with a calculator instead of a computer.

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