(written by Senator Louis Patrick Hill, from newsletter)

Upon viewing the final projects implemented during the Waveplace Pilot among fourth-graders at the Guy Benjamin Elementary School on St. John, I concluded that the project has enormous potential for Virgin Islands students.

I also came away deeply gratified that the non-profit entity, Waveplace Foundation, had selected the Virgin Islands as a viable location to introduce a pilot program calculated to stimulate learning among children (particularly those outside of the continental United States), with emphasis on the development of language skills, the very bedrock of acquiring an education.

The Waveplace Project, utilizing the XO computer and Etoys instruction, has tremendous potential for impacting our struggling Virgin Islands educational system. There is a contradiction for children who “Live in Paradise” as their ability to receive a first-rate education is often fraught with difficulties. The geographic challenges of an island community prevent students from taking advantage of educational opportunities available to students on the mainland. What is at stake for Virgin Islands students is the opportunity to avail themselves of cutting edge education technology on par with any other jurisdiction, utilizing the One Laptop Per Child and the Etoys instruction. This flexible technology will propel the students into a new world of exploration and creativity, the control of the educational environment in the very hands of the student. It will provide a massive change in the method of student instruction, allowing both appropriate and self-directed lessons, collaboratively developed by student and teacher.

In receiving a free laptop, Virgin Islands children participated with unbridled enthusiasm as instructors familiarized each student with the technological wonders of the instrument. The children worked diligently with their teachers as they learned to not only tell their stories but graphically design them, complete with animation. As these stories were projected on a large screen, each child came forward in a “show and tell” presentation. . . and each took part in editing each other’s work, contributing suggestions on how best to improve verbiage and animation.

The ramifications of this technique to stimulate an interest in learning are awesome; it will expand the horizons of Virgin Islands children in directions unique to the potential of each child.

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