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Maranathas new tech gear a plus for kids
Academy outfits classrooms with iPads, 3-D screens
Students raise their hands Friday morning during math class at Maranatha Christian Academy. The school recently has added new technology.

Plotting points on a graph isn’t usually an activity that commands the attention of children.

But a class of fourth- and fifth-graders at Maranatha Christian Academy couldn’t have been more excited to learn about graphing in a coordinate plane Friday morning

."They’re understanding things quicker. And it’s because you got them — they’re connecting," Ministry Administrator Rod Bell Jr. said.

With the use of "Mimio Board" technology, students used interactive tools to learn math in teacher Melissa Winfrey’s classroom.

In the high school science lab, a 3-D high definition projection screen is used to get close-up looks at creatures as they are being dissected.

The school implemented the new technology this year, which Bell said is just a part of investing in children.

"More than ever, people care about investing — the right investment where it counts the most. So where to invest? Invest in a child," he said.

And parents agreed, he said.

"We put out a feeler right before the holidays, and I said we’d like to start a technology fund and what we’d like to do if everyone is interested is we’d like to get the teachers all iPads," he said. "Over Christmas, we got gifts of over $12,000 or more. As a matter of fact one showed up in my mail at home for $10,000. So they were committed and wanted to get going."

Bell said that the cost of

integrating technology at Maranatha has run at about $5,000 to $6,000 per classroom. iPads and other tablets, which every student grades sixth through 12 will have next year, run from $400 to $600 each.

But adapting to new technology is crucial for survival, he said.

"It’s the timing, and it’s so necessary. We had our teacher’s convention in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and probably the biggest thing emphasized to us in Christian education is that if Christian schools don’t take this step forward and be on the cutting edge, we’re going to continue to see them lost," he said. "We said, ‘You know what? In our community we need to stand out."

The response has been overwhelmingly positive, Bell said.

"It’s incredible the responses we’ve seen from people, and it looks like we’re going to have a record enrollment next year," Bell said.

Technology in the classroom means exciting changes for education in general, he said.

"It’s going to be phenomenal to see how it changes our whole educational structure," he said. "We were so structured, but whenever the kids can have the hands on, it’s phenomenal."

In Winfrey’s class, to liven up the geometry lesson, kids used a special pen to drop and drag animals along a graph being projected on the whiteboard.

"The class is not as ‘formal’ feeling. There’s an attitude of more creativity, and just like what she’s (Winfrey) saying, there’s a lighter attitude, but you’re still getting the emphasis across," Bell said.

Technology will also help the school foster global connections.

"They’ll be Skype-ing with their sister class in Korea in some classrooms."

Although the berth of technology is criticized for sapping youngsters’ attention spans, Bell says when harnessed in the classroom, the effects are outstanding.

"They’re already teaching with the iPads and it’s crazy how quick the kids are catching on. Their academic growth is ridiculous," he said.


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