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TMCNet:  Hoover Middle School team to provide computer tutorials for senior citizens

[January 05, 2013]

Hoover Middle School team to provide computer tutorials for senior citizens

Jan 05, 2013 (Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- WATERLOO, Iowa -- There's a lot that a group of seventh-graders could learn from an assisted living facility full of senior citizens.

But when it comes to computers, the youngsters are the ones with the expertise.

Members of the Bionic Bandits, a FIRST Lego League team at Hoover Middle School, want to share their computer know-how with seniors. Working with the Ridgeway Place assisted living facility, the nine seventh-grade students are finishing up recording the last of 12 instructional DVD's on using computers and the Internet. Among the topics are email, opening attachments, Skype, organizing and retrieving files, word documents, YouTube and Facebook.

The project is at the center of the team's presentation for the state Lego League championship Jan. 19 in Ames.

Senior Solutions is the theme of this year's competition. Teams come up with an idea related to the theme, do research and create a presentation.

Teams also learn to program Lego Mindstorms robots so they can complete a series of "missions" based on the theme. Students appear before judges to describe how they built and programmed their robot and to demonstrate how they work as a team.

When it came to a presentation on a solution for seniors, the students thought of a wrist watch that would give reminders for appointments or taking pills. They also thought of a cane that lights up so it can be found in the dark.

"We had lots of ideas, but then we thought 'How does that help them to stay connected to the world '" said team member Sam Anderson.

Evan Baker said the team hoped to present more than a concept, which was a possibility with the DVDs.

"We decided that we wanted to have a finished product for the seniors," he said.

"We thought the computer videos would be more helpful to seniors because that's what we're doing these days. We're not doing books, we're doing computers," said team member Mary Smith.

The team visited with a small group of seniors at Ridgeway Place to get some feedback on their plan.

Along with refining their project, the students also ended up expanding it.

"We found out they were already raising money to buy a computer, so we decided to help with that," said team member Ben Dunkerton.

Students have been writing fundraising letters to businesses and have so far collected $650. They are aiming to collect a total of $1,100 with the computer purchased and delivered to the facility before the state competition.

The DVDs may be distributed to other organizations that serve seniors, including a donation to the Waterloo Public Library. Students emphasized that the DVDs could be used to instruct anyone. They plan on continuing with the project as long as there is interest and support.

"This is one year I can see this going beyond the scope of the competition," said Tamra Willis, the team's coach and a Hoover science teacher.

"We're not trying to do this just necessarily for the competition," added Smith. "We want to help the community." ___ (c)2013 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa) Visit Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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