Wednesday, August 1, 2001

Palm Education Pioneer program enables innovative teaching


By Steve Niles

Students at the Whale Branch Middle School in Seabrook, SC will research and collect data on their Palm handheld computers at the Whale Branch River and the surrounding coastal/marsh areas in order to study coastal habitats, the efficient use of natural resources, and the preservation of the environment. At North Miami Senior High in North Miami, FL, students will use Palm handheld computers to control Computer Based Laboratories during Chemistry I and will familiarize themselves with the use of the different probes. In the first year, students will download information into the classroom computer and use a portable keyboard with their Palm handhelds. The second year, they will design their own experiments and present their work to the class at the end of the project.

These are just two of the projects that were awarded grants earlier this summer by the Palm Education Pioneer program. In its second round of grants, the Palm Education Pioneer program awarded $2.3 million in Palm handheld units to elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities. The program is a collaborative project undertaken by SRI International (at and Palm, designed to enable innovative teaching and learning and to gain insight into how handheld computers affect teaching and learning. The idea is that this research will help determine best practices for integrating handhelds into curriculum and teacher training.

The site where you can learn more about this groundbreaking program is at, and I've chosen it as August's PalmPower Site of the Month. It's pictured in Figure A.


Learn more about the Palm Education Pioneer program. (click for larger image)

Applications for grants are accepted from U.S. teachers of grades K-12 who make use of Palm handhelds in the classroom. Since the second round of grants has just closed, you'll have to watch for more information regarding future rounds. In the meantime, however, the Palm Education Pioneer program site provides an Idea Bank at It's full of fascinating uses for Palm handhelds in education, links to great software, other grant opportunities, and more.

For even more great ideas, check out the list of previous grant winners. The breadth and scope of the projects being undertaken at schools across the U.S. is amazing. These are guaranteed to get your mind spinning with possibilities.

If you're an educator with a love of Palm computing, you owe it to yourself to check out the valuable information at And if you're a student or a parent, show this site to your favorite teachers and fill them in on the fascinating ways Palm handhelds are being used in education.