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Putting science at their fingertips

Some Huntington Beach High teachers are using new iPad technology to enhance curriculum.

February 19, 2013|By Anthony Clark Carpio
  • Huntington Beach High's Ricky Berge, center, plays with his class-issued iPad as classmates Stephanie Hunt, right, and Aidan Abe, left, look on during a science class on Feb. 14.
Huntington Beach High's Ricky Berge, center, plays… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

Textbooks have been the tried-and-true method of relaying information to student, but with recent advances in technology those 300-page books may become paperweights.

Blending the new with the traditional, Huntington Beach High School has started using 40 iPad 2s in their science department, integrating the device within its curriculum and giving students a more hands-on learning experience.

The tablets were funded by the school's Education Foundation, which paid about $22,000 for the first 40 iPads, said Barbi Raban, president of the foundation.

The nonprofit recently bought 10 more iPads which are on the way to students. They are looking to purchase 50 more by the end of the school year, Raban said.

"It's fun to interact with the apps," said Mary Frances Bir, 17, a senior at Huntington. "It's a creative way of teaching."

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Bir and senior classmate Andrew Fischer, 18, have used these iPads in their biology class, taught by Jayson Ruth, only three times this school year, but see the potential of using tablets in class.

"It simplifies everything. It makes it all easier because it's in one area and you don't have to go through different books," Fischer said. "And we can send [all our classwork] straight to our teacher from the app."

Ruth and five other teachers in the department are slowly integrating the use of iPads in their classes, using various apps to help students with the curriculum. But others haven't been as receptive to the idea, Ruth said.

"They're not replacing the teacher. They're simply an added resource," he said.

Having spearheaded the effort, Ruth is enthusiastic about bringing in new technology into the classroom.

"The potential is there to really reach your students on a level that's never really been possible before," he said. "If I have an update to an assignment or I want to send a reminder, it's a few clicks away from every single one of my students."

Bir, Fischer and their other classmates are given "apptivities" to do in class, utilizing various apps Ruth has downloaded for the students to use to answer questions for an assignment.

He had recently downloaded the app "EarthViewer," allowing students to spin a digital globe and use various settings, like going back in time and seeing how the Earth's plates have moved, Fischer said.

"I blend a traditional lesson with technology," Ruth said. "I've got one foot in the old and one foot in the new.

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