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Getting on board computer literacy
Students who successfully completed computer training on board the Technology Outreach Program bus stand outside of it with their certificates. - photo by Photo Contributed

LATHROP - First and second grade students at Joseph Widmer school anxiously awaited the arrival of the Give Every Child a Chance Technology Outreach Program (TOP) bus.

As the white solar powered bus parked at the back of the gymnasium, Kristina VanDePol, Technology Outreach Program Director, prepared for the arrival of her first 10 students. Upon entering the bus VanDePol directed them to their individual workstations equipped with laptops and introduced herself. For these first and second grade students the two-hour class begins the moment they sit down.

“Let’s start with the first step,” said VanDePol as she instructed students on how to turn on their computers, log in, read the monitor, and use the mouse.

“GECAC tracks the student’s progress through a series of pre and post tests. All students take a pretest at the beginning of the course. At the end of the two-week course the students take a post test to determine their progress,” stated VanDePol. “The students from our previous location showed an overall increase in knowledge of 20%!”

After familiarizing the students with the computer, on-line keyboarding lessons begin. As students work independently, VanDePol stops at each station for personal one-on-one instruction with each student. “The focus on keyboarding is to help the second grade student learn where the home row is on the keyboard and finger placement,” noted VanDePol. As soon as the keyboarding lesson was completed the students took a break and then went back to the second half of the day’s lesson, Cyber Safety. Students were taught importance of being safe on the internet and with the aid of creative workbook pages, students learned the rules of how to safely use the internet and what to do if they are being bullied.

As the class begging to wrap up, VanDePol offers her students free time on the computer where they can paint or play games on the computer to incorporate the skills that they are learning. “I love to color on the computer,” stated Yasmeen, a second grade student.

The TOP bus will be at Joseph Widmer for the remainder of the week and will then pull into Great Valley Elementary School. “The most important thing that I want the students to remember is to watch out for strangers and never give out personal information such as addresses and phone numbers,” stated VanDePol sincerely.

To find out more information about the Technology Outreach Program call Kristina VanDePol at the GECAC Program Office at 825-7003 or visit for a listing of what locations the TOP bus will be visiting.