Some students in the Hector School District in Arkansas spend as much as two hours on the school bus every day, but these days they can watch science and math programs on ceiling-mounted computer screens while they travel, reports the Associated Press.
No More Rowdy Bus Riders
The result? For one thing, according to local bus driver Kenny Bull, the bus is a lot quieter than in the past. It used to be that he was writing up students for bad behavior pretty often on his bus, but since the videos have started, he hasn’t had to discipline anyone for acting out.
Long bus rides are becoming more common in many areas around the country as schools close and districts consolidate. The hope is that with a bigger student body, there will be more educational opportunities available, but for some kids it has meant spending hours on the school bus every day. So why not put this time to good use?
Buses As Places Of Learning?
That’s the thinking behind Vanderbilt University’s Aspirnaut Program, which is responsible for turning buses into places of learning. The program works with rural schools in Arkansas and Maine and promotes learning in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Ceiling-Mounted Screens And Headsets
Here’s how it works: each bus has five ceiling-mounted screens that show educational content appropriate for different age groups. The younger students sit at the front, with older children towards the back. In addition to computer screens, the bus also has a set of headphones for every seat. For some kids, it means an extra two hours of learning every day.
When I taught in the sprawling school district of Montgomery County, Maryland, where around 96,000 students ride the district’s 1300 buses daily, often for up to an hour, it seemed obvious that this amount of time could be put to use.
High School Students Still Prefer Their Cell Phones
But is this a perfect solution? Bull reports that the younger kids really enjoy these programs, but the high school students not so much. They are allowed to use their cell phones, iPods, and other PDAs, so apparently these tend to be more popular. No surprises there!
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