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VIDEO: How Maine's Laptop Program Turned One District's Students Into 'Tech Sherpas'

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Brian Bechard
/
Maine Public
Students at Sebasticook Valley Middle School in Newport create robots as part of the school's technology-heavy industrial arts program.

Fifteen years ago, Maine launched an ambitious experiment to give every 7th- and 8th- grader in the state their own device, under a new program called the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. Maine was the first state to try such an expansive program, and experts say it’s still the largest program of its kind. The results of the program vary from district to district, with some teachers adopting the technology and others still resisting it today.

But at RSU 19 in Newport, these devices have transformed much of the district’s curriculum. Shop class for a middle schooler used to involve only saws and drills, but now students use laptops to design web pages and create their own 3-D printed inventions. When those students reach high school, they can become “tech sherpas,” who find problems within the school’s walls and help solve them with technology.

Maine Public visited the district to see the changes in action.