MATRIX grant puts Palms in hands of 7th and 8th graders

Grant promoting math and tech provides GPS-enable Palms for geocaching and other experiential education.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor
What can a little money do for public school math and technology programs? At Red Bank Middle School in New Jersey, a grant for promoting the use of mathematics and technology proved to be a boon, reports the Hub.

The $400,000 MATRIX grant (Math Achievement to Realize Individual Excellence), a three-year grant for the promotion of mathematics and technology for students and teachers, was awarded to the Keyport Public School District, which has since partnered with Red Bank Amboy School District.

Schools in both districts have used the grant money to purchase hand-held Palm PDAs for each student in the seventh and eighth grades, and the students have used them in many different aspects of their schooling.

"Last year," said seventh-grade teacher Denise Borns, "we went on a walking trip to Marine Park and Riverside Gardens Park and did some geocaching. At the end of the year we went to Sandy Hook and the students did some geocaching there. Each year, we've built on what we did the year before."

The eighth-graders recently gave a presentation to the Board of Education about how they have made use of the grant money. They explained how they have used technology to learn about directions, graphing and problem solving, and having fun while doing it.

"Our Palms all have GPS," said eighth- grader Alexandria Pipitona. "In the real world, phones and cars have GPS, so that they can be found, or if you need directions from one place to another."

The grant also funded the purchase of old-fashioned compasses, which the students also put to use.

"We used both the compasses and the GPS units," said Elyse Frieri. "It was good to have the compass because the GPS units use satellites for information, and if it's a cloudy day, and the GPS wasn't working really well, you can use the compass to figure out where you need to go."
The student and teachers both agree that the technology in math class is vital to stay within the current technology.
"Obviously," she said after the presentation by the students, "the teaching and learning of mathematics have changed over time. This is not what I learned," said Red Bank Schools Superintendent Laura Morana.
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