LA JOYA, Texas -- It’s difficult to imagine there are corners of our country where people have no access to the internet.
Rather than waiting for the internet to arrive in these communities, one school district in South Texas decided to take the internet to them.
The World Wide Web is offered in a way it had not been offered to families in the La Joya school district ever before.
“I really like laptops,” third-grader Jose Luis Martinez said as he climbed inside the district’s new mobile tech lab.
“I know what I’m going to play on this,” Martinez said.
Play he will, but not without learning. At least that’s the idea behind the La Joya ISD’s mobile tech lab.
“Creativity is intelligence having fun,” Clemencia Garza said, the district’s instructional resources & technology director
Garza unveiled the new tech playroom on wheels after two years of researching a solution to the community’s problem with internet access.
“If you go around here, just at the campus we’re at, there isn’t much infrastructure here. You don’t see many businesses,” Garza said. “I’m daring to say we’re the first school district down here that has really embraced this idea and that we’re taking the learning out to them.”
The mobile tech lab will begin to deploy for a few hours after school in key areas of the district where people tend to congregate and provide more than just public WIFI.
“Our ‘makerspace’ area becomes mobile, so that’s where you see a lot of our stem ideas, electronics, robotics, drones, virtual reality, augmented reality. We want to provide this innovative platform for our kids,” said Garza.
Obdulia Jerez, a parent to two-grade school students was impressed. Especially with the hands-on games and the 3D printer.
Lack of access to the internet means tablets, laptops and other devices are useless to Obdulia and her family. With the mobile tech lab, she sees opportunity for development for her 7-year-old son Alexander and 14-year-old daughter Abigail who suffers from a speech impediment.
The price tag on this tech-heavy bus is $364,273.20. The district said that’s still more affordable and practical than giving an iPad to all 20,000-some students.
Having access to the mobile tech lab in one of the poorest corners of the country could mean the world.
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