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Wilson gets hands-on technology





Wilson Elementary School students will be able to interact with the content they're learning next year.

Each classroom will have an interactive projector thanks to the Wilson Home and School Association.

"The interactive projector changes any flat surface or wall into an interactive surface," said Dustin Frank, president of Engaging Technologies, Omaha.

Frank was at the school Thursday to provide training on the system for teachers.

"Dustin is training us on how to connect and set the equipment," said Leslie Karlin, fifth-grade reading and language arts teacher.

The teachers also are completing a five-week online course on their own time, she said.

"It's exciting because the kids will be interactive with all the content," she said.

"This is a fairly new technology," Wilson principal Tom Meagher said.

Meagher said he and others studied the system last year before the purchase.

"We were looking for a little more economical way to get some of the Smart Boards," he said. "It's more cost effective and ... it's not taking up a chunk of their (teachers') room like a Smart Board or Promethean board would. But they still have use of that white board when they're not using it as a Smart Board, so it frees things up just a little bit more in their room."

It's a "more economical version of a combination of a projection unit, so they have got TV, cable, projector, video and interactive all in one," Frank said.

Each of the school's 20 classrooms is being fitted with the new projectors.

The upgrade cost more than $40,000, with the money coming from fundraising, said Brenda Bickle, president of the home and school association.

"The donations from people buying those products (cookie dough, magazines and gift items) from the students raised that money so that we can keep improving the technology, trying to help subsidize in every way we can with the budget cuts coming down from the state."

Meagher said he appreciates the organization, which has been responsible for a number of improvements in the school.

"They're just as supportive as they can be," he said.

Teachers can use programs to allow interactive participation in everything from math, English and social studies, said Jody Scoby, home and school fundraising chairwoman.

John Imler, a subcontractor of Engaging Technologies who owns Fat Boys Electric in Omaha, is installing the system this week.

The system will "give teachers another way to reach all the kids in the classroom, (and) give them another way to learn," Bickle said.

"We appreciate the community support so we can provide our children a better education, too," Scoby said.