6:42 PM, Dec 7, 2004   |    comments
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    It was just like any other school bus, until students in the Bryant High School E.A.S.T. lab got their hands on it. E.A.S.T. stands for "Environmental and Spatial Technology." It's a specialized class that encourages students to take the lead on projects like those they might find in the workplace. E.A.S.T. also emphasizes technology. In the case of the bus, student Bradley Norman says, "We want to be able to use it as an extra computer lab." The students plan to provide the school bus/computer lab for use at Bryant Elementary Schools. It could also be used as a training facility for people who couldn't otherwise afford a computer of their own. As Norman explains, "The people will use the bus as a training facility. They'll take a class for a week, or however long we decide necessary. After they complete the class, they get to take one of the old computers home so they can have a computer in their home." But first, the students want to make the bus look good. Norman explains, "We're really trying to make it feel like you're not inside a bus. The better it looks, the more people will want to use it." Thus, the hardwood floors, the stereo system and the glass pack muffler system. Junior Stuart Ackley helps gather donations for the bus project. He says, "I just ask them if they want to donate to us, and they can get a tax break, I guess." So, the students get a hands-on business lesson in communications and marketing. Junior Danny Riamenschneider says, "It's more based for what I'm interested in. It's not just like a school subject." The Bryant School District has somewhat of a tradition of reusing old school busses for new and different purposes. A few years ago, they took an old school bus and turned it into a water tanker. They also turned a school bus into a "Bus Camino" instead of an El Camino, by cutting off the back end of the top of the bus to use for hauling large trash. But those projects didn't present the same challenges as turning a bus into a computer lab. Because as Bradley Norman explains, "Some of the challenges are getting Internet into here, because Internet's just a big part of any computer lab. We figured we just need to use a wireless Internet modem. Actually getting the electricity for all of the computers to run off, has been tough." Tough, but a good learning experience. Norman remembered, "When we started with this project I never figured it'd make it even this far. I figured it was too hard and we'd just leave it alone and not do it anymore. We've worked hard and this is how far we've gotten." The E.A.S.T. class members are determined to finish their innovative school bus computer lab. If you have an item or service you would like to donate, you can call E.A.S.T. teacher Fred Burnett at (501) 653-5724 or email him at fburnett@bryantschools.org.

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