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Putting good donations to good use

As we previously blogged about, J. David Eisenberg has donated 15 good computers (with monitors, mice and keyboards) to Partimus, and since the time of that March 27 blog, we have been replacing old machines with David’s newer machines.  It has been slow, steady progress.  On April 17, David came back to the Ascend school, and he and tech teacher Abigail Rudner and I triaged 6 machines and installed Lubuntu on 5 of the machines.

Since then, we have replaced some of the slower, noisier machines with David’s newer, quieter, faster machines.  It is a constant process of installing machines, putting new machines into production, taking slower machines out of production, and then checking back with Abigail to make sure that the replaced machines are working as expected, and supporting her as she makes tweaks to the system.

Today, Sean Castro of Education for Change and I triaged some more machines, replacing two machines that had only 500 MB of RAM each with two of David’s machines, which have  1 GB of RAM each.  Until we get our PXE / proxy server in place, we are now manually installing the machines, setting up the admin accounts and the student user accounts, and placing a few important icons on the desktop of each of the machines.

A computer lab is a little bit like a garden.  I takes constant weeding to take out the “weeds” that sprout up as children explore the computers, inevitably damaging them or creating untidy desktop spaces in the process; and replacing dying machines with newer machines.  The key to making the “garden” work is having a caring teacher like Abigail create a positive environment that causes both the students and the volunteers supporting the lab to believe that the lab is a good and worthy thing that deserves nurturing and caring.

If students take good care of the machines, as the do in Abigails’ lab, then the volunteers pick up on that energy of caring, and keep the machines in good working order.  When the students see that the machines are in good working order, they in turn do good school work on the machines, and keep the machines and the physical lab environment tidy and in good order.  It all comes together like a symphony, with the players all playing their tunes to create a beautiful creation.

Thanks to Amo Kaci of Education for Change for mentoring Sean Castro and for helping to support Abigail in maintaining the lab, and thanks to Sean for his work in the lab today and in the past.  Thanks again to J. David Eisenberg for his great donation of the machines, and thanks to Jim Stockford of Systemateka for helping to get the machines from David’s donation collection site to the Ascend school.

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