Emlen Elementary School, located in Mt. Airy at the corner of Chew Ave. and Upsal St., has 547 students in grades K-5. All of Emlen’s students attend class in the technology lab at least once per week, taught by Mrs. Jaclyn Costello.
However, the lab’s outdated equipment makes it extremely challenging to implement the technology curriculum, in many cases downright impossible. For example, the majority of computers in the lab do not support Flash, which is required for software programs like First in Math as well as many instructional websites. Most of the computers also cannot play sound, which prevents students from using programs such as Starfall, which reads stories aloud to students, and First in Math, which provides animated tutorials to students who are practicing a new skill.
Even relatively basic programs like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint cannot be used reliably since the machines often randomly shut off while students are working. It is also difficult to use the lab to continue work on a document started in the classroom or at home, since most of the computers lack working USB ports.
The current lab includes the following student computers:
- 19 eMac 2005
- 6 iMac 2008
- 1 iMac 2006
Although Emlen has classes with up to 32 students, the lab has just 26 computers available for students. Even with students working at the teacher’s desktop and personal laptop, with 3-4 computers broken at any given time, students often need to double up.
The combination of machines in one lab also presents challenges. In 2013, Emlen received 6 iMacs from 2008 from another school that was closed. Since these 6 computers are much more functional than the others, students who do not get to use the “new” computers during class become very frustrated that they have to use computers that, in some cases, are older than they are.