FOR IMMED. RELEASE: More than 1,000 Students and Teachers on Laptops Raise Food for the Hungry
Published:May 27, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Thursday, May 27, 2010
Contact: David Connerty-Marin, 207-624-6880/831-3313
Students on Laptops Raise Food for the Hungry
Maine Learning Technology conference engages students in global and local issue
AUGUSTA – More than 1,000 participants – mostly students – fought hunger by correctly answering vocabulary and math questions on their state-issued laptops. By the end of the day, the group had raised more than 2,300,000 grains of rice to be distributed around the world.
The students and their teachers were part of the largest Maine Learning Technology Initiative annual student conference yet at the University of Maine in Orono, organized by the Maine Department of Education.
The conference partnered with the United Nations World Food Programme to host the students and teachers on a specially-developed version of FreeRice.com, a web site tool where rice to feed hungry people is donated to WFP for each correct answer to questions around vocabulary, mathematics, geography, science and more.
“This is a clear demonstration of what we have said since the inception of the laptop initiative – it’s not about machines or software, it’s about using technology to make learning personal and relevant to students,” said Angela Faherty, Acting Commissioner of the Maine Department of Education. “In the process, they can literally change their own worlds and the larger world. It’s a beautiful thing to watch unfold before your eyes.”
Maine’s laptop program is the first to work with FreeRice.com to create a localized effort to raise food for the hungry. A customized version of the site will be available to challenge Maine students, along with invitees from around the world, to raise as much food as they can.
“For the first time in history, more than one billion people go to bed hungry every single day,” said Graham Bell, Youth Outreach Coordinator for the World Food Programme. “Initiatives such as this, linking education to real action on the global and local faces of hunger, demonstrate the power of youth and technology to effect real and lasting change.”
In addition to raising rice for the World Food Programme, the students made a local contribution to addressing hunger. Students brought canned and other foods to donate to the Good Shepherd Food Bank, Maine’s largest food bank.
The project also presented a technological challenge for network technicians at the University of Maine System, who created a customized, temporary wireless network to host more than 1,000 wireless laptops simultaneously.
The Maine Department of Education worked with Cisco to bring cutting-edge technology to students during the event, including a social video system that enabled students to capture, edit, and share video over the web. A representative of the World Food Programme from Rome spoke with the students live by video conference.
"Events like this are incredibly important and we're doing many things on a scale that we've never done before. Computers and Information are the drivers of the future economy. Maine is well poised to be a future economic leader with our education pipeline full from K-12 through college. The laptop program has given Maine a real technological advantage," says Bruce Segee, a University of Maine professor of engineering.
Students were gathered at the University of Maine for the annual MLTI conference, with dozens of workshops led by students and some by teachers. The goal of the conference is to give students and teachers technology learning ideas to bring back to their own schools.
In addition, 10 students went home with particularly valuable door prizes – the University of Maine Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering donated ten $1,000 scholarships good toward tuition for students who enter the department's program.
MLTI Student Conference - http://mlti.org/studentconference
/> World Food Programme - http://www.wfp.org/
/> Free Rice – http://www.freerice.com
/> Good Shepherd Food Bank - http://gsfb.org/
/> Cisco Connected Learning - http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/education
For more information, visit the Maine Department of Education website: http://www.maine.gov/education