By Amanda Burdette
PIKESVILLE, Md. – Gov. Parris N. Glendening leaned over seventh-grader Lachole Rucher Friday and asked if she needed help in retrieving the World Wide Web page she had been studying.
He talked her through the process of clicking her mouse on the “bookmarks” menu until the home page on an artery disease was displayed on her monitor screen. Lachole was attentive and giggly at the same time.
“Good luck to you,” the governor told her. “Glad to have helped you.”
Glendening kicked-off the second Net-Weekend, a $1.35 million event financed by the State Information Technology Fund, at Old Court Middle School Friday morning.
Net-Weekend, in which 500 schools will participate, is part of the governor’s five-year $53 million plan to connect all Maryland schools to the Internet.
Glendening visited two other schools Friday — Ashburton Elementary in Bethesda and Centennial Lane in Ellicott City — and today will go to Princeton Elementary in Camp Springs to help wire the building.
The program provides hardware and equipment to link school computers to the Web. Schools submitted grant applications in August and were selected in mid-September.
Old Court Middle’s proposal demonstrated how they would use the Web in the science curriculum. Janet Henke, a seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher at Old Court, said she developed lesson plans through Web sites while working on a project called Envirohealth, sponsored by Maryland Public Television and Johns Hopkins University.
Envirohealth evolved into a classroom project where students researched diseases through software or the Web. Lachole, for instance, is looking at heart ailments.
“I love it,” Lachole said of the Internet during Friday’s event. “It is a good resource.”
But until recently, Old Court has had only one computer in the library connected to the Web. After the weekend, there will be 45, some in classrooms and others in the lab that Glendening visited.
John Novicki, technology liaison at Old Court, said the technology installed through Net-Weekend allows the school to “bypass the modem. It is at least five times faster.”
By December, Novicki said, students and teachers at various schools will be able to communicate with one another via the Web.
Jarvon Tobias, a seventh-grader, said she was excited about the computer connections because “it is easier to do my asthma report. There are lots of really interesting facts” on the Internet.
And Ryan Watkins, another seventh-grader, said he had quickly picked up Internet skills. “When I first started using it I didn’t know where to go, but my science teacher told me where to go. Now I think it is pretty easy,” he said.
Atif Ekulona, an eighth-grader, said he likes the Internet because of the “nature pictures and the movies they show.”
To Anthony G. Marchione, superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools, it means that the future is here.
In an interview, Marchione pointed to Logan Elementary School in Dundalk, where Bell Atlantic has funded a network project linking all classrooms and homes of fourth-graders. “It is a teaching tool,” he said.
Marchione stressed that teachers cannot be replaced by computers, but that teachers need to be educated in Internet use.
Glendening agreed, saying, “Teacher training [goes] with all of this.” The overall Technology in Maryland Schools Program includes $5 million for teacher training. -30-