Students learn computer repair in pilot program

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 10, 2001

Thursday, May 10, 2001

The Natchez Democrat

Robert Williams sees the virtue of a mess at his ExplorNet

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class with the Natchez-Adams School District.

&uot;Some people may call it a mess,&uot; said the Natchez

High School sophomore. &uot;We call it organized disarray.&uot;

In a room full of dismantled computers at Braden School, Natchez

High School students are learning how to tear apart, repair and

build computers.

The pilot program is provided through ExplorNet, a nonprofit

organization that aims to improve technology education, and the

Mississippi Department of Education.

Ten Natchez High School students taking the class this semester

talked about what they have learned Tuesday to business and community

leaders. The idea is to make the community aware of the class

and also form partnerships for such things as job shadowing or

plant tours, said Andrew L. Smith, state director of ExplorNet.

&uot;It’s an opportunity to really just allow the community

to see firsthand basically what the students are doing,&uot;

Smith said.

At the start of the class the inside of a computer was &uot;basically

alien&uot; but not anymore, Williams said, while showing the

guests the inside of a computer.

&uot;We learned what all these things are. We learned what

they do,&uot; he said.

Shannon Burts, an ExplorNet teacher, thinks the community needs

to know what these students are doing.

&uot;Spread the word in (the) community,&uot; she said. &uot;Brag

on these kids.&uot;

John Harper, a salesman with Howard Computers of Laurel, attended

the presentation at the request of Linda Grafton, the district’s

technology director. During his work, Harper said he liked seeing

the attitude young people have toward computers.

&uot;I like the no fear part,&uot; he said.

He also sees a future for young people in computers, including

in his company, which wants to hire about 8,000 more people in

the next 10 years.

&uot;We’re going to need people more than we’re going to need

anything else,&uot; Harper said.

The ExplorNet program gives the students the knowledge they

need to pass a test certifying them as computer service technicians.

The program can also assist with economic development by training

a local workforce, Smith said.

Williams plans to attend the Mississippi School For Math and

Science next year and is thinking about becoming an English teacher

but he said ExplorNet has taught him things he thought he already

knew about computers.

&uot;I’ve always been kind of fascinated by computers and

going to MSMS this will really help me out … because technology

is where Mississippi is going,&uot; he said.

ExplorNet, which also provides the program in several other

states, offered the class in 13 districts in Mississippi this

year with plans to expand it to more than 30 next year, Smith

said. More sections of the class will also be available at Natchez

High School next year.