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Cardinal Pacelli students ‘go green’ refurbishing old computers

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

ST. FRANCIS DE SALES DEANERY — The seventh-grade at Cardinal Pacelli School recently took recycling to a whole new level becoming the recycling center for old computers.

In the first phase of what the school hopes will be an ongoing project, 10 computers were donated by Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate, Inc., and RGW Development, LLC. The computers would have been on their way to the trash, but instead were refurbished by Cardinal Pacelli students. They will then be donated to St. Joseph School in Cincinnati’s west end.

Seventh-graders at Cardinal Pacelli recently refurbished donated computers, for donation to St. Joseph School. Pictured, from left, are Michael Glaser, Anderson, Daniel Sandmann, Jeremey Tiettmeyer, Francie Dorger and Bridget Brown. (Courtesy photo)

The project began with Tommy Clifton, technology director at Cardinal Pacelli, who saw a magazine article about a similar effort at a school in California. He assessed the computers and worked with the students to determine the best operating system for their recycling effort.

“Linux was selected because it is an operating system that is completely free. It has some qualities like Microsoft Windows or MAC OS X, but is different in many ways. One major difference is freedom from licensing costs and a high level of resource needs,” Clifton said.

“Older computers can be given a second life and still function very well,” added.

Working in small groups of three or four, the students were involved in every aspect of refurbishing the computers. The project was built into the seventh-grade science curriculum, which includes recycling, said Clifton.  Incorporating social teaching and Catholic values, the group selected a Linux operating system called Ubuntu, an African word meaning “humanity to others,” or ‘I am what I am because of who we all are.” Included in the software are more than 30 educational games for students of all ages, constellation and star viewers, Internet productivity software and more. All is completely open source and free.

“Our kids really got into this,” Clifton said of the project, noting the significance of them learning about recycling now and saying “if they start thinking like this now, they’re going to be much better off in life.”

The students who took part in the project say it was a very valuable experience. “I found it to be very fun,” said Sarah King. “Mr. Clifton guided us along the way and made it easy. I learned a lot — how to download software, about programs, stuff like that. It’s good that we’re making an environmental impact and that we’re helping other kids.”

“I learned that you can basically recycle anything and that new technology is easy to work with,” added Trey Hoffman. “This project makes me feel great. We’re really fortunate to have the technology that we do here at Pacellli and it’s great to be able to help another school.”

With the computers now ready for use again, the seventh-graders will soon be delivering them to St. Joseph School, selected because of its ongoing twinning relationship with Our Lord Christ the King Parish and Cardinal Pacelli. Parishioners are regular tutors at St. Joseph. As a result, “This project was a perfect fit,” Clifton said.

The Cardinal Pacelli students documented the process so they can share it with their counterparts at St. Joseph School, he said. Upon delivery, they will help with the set up of the computers and equipment and Clifton will be available to answer questions or troubleshoot. St. Joseph School will use the computers in their tutoring area and library, Clifton said.

The next Linux project will be the recycling and conversion of 30 older laptops to Ubuntu machines for use as a laptop lab in Cardinal Pacelli’s Spanish classroom. The intent, explained Clifton, is to create a “green classroom” moving toward a paperless teaching environment. The school is currently seeking donations of laptops and computers to recycle and convert for other projects.

For more information about Ubuntu software, visit www.ubuntu.com.

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