The Workshop

During the spring semester of 2003, the Longrun project teamed with Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC) and the Ashland High to create a very exciting situation for many high school students as well as non-student members of the community. A fourth semester Computer Network Specialist student, Andy Pope, chose to spend his required internship working with the Longrun project.

During that semester, on each Thursday, 6 to 10 high school students gatherd at WITC, where they heard a lecture which briefly described the environmental crisis which electronic waste is causing, the 'digital divide' and the Linux operating system. They then were introduced to the compentents which make up a computer, then they completely disassembled and reassembled a computer. For many of the participants this was their first hands on experience with a computer. The students all enjoyed the experience, and both learn about computers, and overcome some fear of them. They then got a brief introduction to using the Web to learn about components. WITC bought them lunch, after which they were bussed to the AAEC to help process the collection. The students disassembled, sorted and tested components. Several of the students who attended the workshop returned to help out during evening hours at the AAEC. The teachers at the high school who were organizing student attendance reported that working with the project was very popular, and several students who were otherwise quite unmotivated became very excited by the opportunity.

The experience demonstrated the educational value of having a limitless supply of computers and components to work with. Removing the fear of damaging expensive equipment helped to provide a rich learning environment. In addition to the high school students, several senior community members joined in the class and reported it to be a valuable experience.

As the project matures, more educational opportunities will appear, with a greater emphasis on building working machines.