CPU sponsors new Forest Park tech camp

A new technology camp for financially-disadvantaged middle school students in Longview ISD is fully-funded, thanks to a $1,000 donation from local company CPU Wholesale.

CPU sponsors new Forest Park tech camp

Fri Mar 3, 2017

A new technology camp for financially-disadvantaged middle school students in Longview ISD is fully-funded, thanks to a $1,000 donation from local company CPU Wholesale.

"Raspberry Pi Summer Camp" (see original story here) attendees will build their own computer, install two operating systems, learn some basic coding using the Python language to customize Minecraft, and then take the entire completed project home with them when finished.

Led by Instructional Technology Specialist Jennifer Smith and Forest Park 8th Grade Science teacher Amy Barrett, the program needed just a little over $1,000 for the 11 kits that students will be using, in addition to tuition assistance for students of promise whose families may have difficulty covering the cost. The Longview ISD Education Foundation provided the initial "seed money" to purchase the equipment for the Raspberry Pi Summer Camp, and the equipment belongs to the campus.

"Without CPU's donation, I would have to pass the cost of replacing the equipment on to the students," Smith said. "That cost would be prohibitive for most of our student’s families."

Smith said thanks to CPU's sponsorship, Longview ISD students will be able to build their very own Raspberry Pi — a fully functioning and customizable computer — and take it home.

"Our hope is that students will be inquisitive enough to customize the computer by adding a $15 webcam, sense hats, motors and servos, and continue building and making with the coding skills they learn at the camp," she said. "Some of these students may be bringing home the only computer for their household. Now, they will be able to do their classwork online from home."

The Raspberry Pi (RPi) is an open source platform that anyone can use and modify for any number of creative projects, Smith explained.

"In a time where there is so much teach to the final answer, RPi allows students to come up with their own problems to solve. It has no correct answer," she said. "They will need to read online, consult other RPi enthusiasts, and watch YouTube videos to gain all the knowledge they need to complete their task. They will be true 21st century problem solvers and not looking to others to hand feed them the 'right answer.'"

During the school year students will participate in Raspberry Jam sessions after school where Raspberry Pi enthusiasts and students who want to learn more about RPi can get together and share ideas and creations.

Exact dates for the camp are still in the works and CPU Vice President Keene Guidry said he looks forward to visiting the summer program once it's underway.

Longview ISD Superintendent Dr. James Wilcox praised district staff for their initiative and CPU Wholesale for their support of the program.

"There's no telling how far-reaching this endeavor could be in the lives of our students," he said. "It's entirely possible that the program could change the trajectory of a child's entire life by exposing them to this kind of resource at a young age."

"It just shows once again what a wonderful business community we have here in Longview, and how dedicated they are to helping our young people be successful," Wilcox added.

For more information the Raspberry Pi Summer Camp, please contact Amy Barrett abarrett@lisd.org, Jennifer Smith jlsmith@lisd.org, or call (903) 446-2510.

CPU Vice President Keene Guidry, left, shown here with Longview ISD staff Amy Barrett and Jennifer Smith.