LOIRP Team Helps NASA Ames Donate Used Computers

Students and Faculty at the Park Avenue Elementary School in the Yuba City Unified District

Editor's note: Dennis Wingo and Ken Zin are part of the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (LOIRP) team. LOIRP make frequent use of old NASA computers and surplus hardware. It is through this experience that Dennis and Ken became familiar with all of the potentially useful equipment sitting around waiting for someone to think of something to use it for. They found a use for it.

Times are tough, but none more so than for schools and their students. To promote equal opportunity for all children, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., recently helped Park Avenue Elementary School in the Yuba City Unified District, receive 24 used computers and servers for data storage.

It was a perfect match. NASA had surplus computers and equipment that it wanted to give away, and Park Avenue Elementary School needed more computers for its 563 student population, which is 86 percent Hispanic.

"We hope to see the program expand. Local schools know about NASA Ames, but the more distant and underserved schools need to know we're here to help," said S. Pete Worden, center director of NASA Ames. "All children need our support to make them feel important, so they can achieve anything they want to do."

Assistant principal Sergio Torres said the contribution from NASA is a major benefit. "The additional equipment has dramatically boosted students access to computers," he said.

Betty Maxwell, the school's speech language pathologist, said that very few of the children have computers at home. "The school has a program that could help students who are having difficulty acquiring grade-level reading skills, but insufficient IT equipment to access it on a daily basis," she said.

"It was serendipitous," said Kenneth Zin, a senior engineer with PKZ Corporation in Paradise, Calif. He and Maxwell were discussing the impact of the state's economy on funding for education, when she told him about the school's need for more computers.

Representatives from Park Avenue Elementary School in the Yuba City Unified District thanked Ames Center Director, Dr. Pete Worden and Dennis Wingo who works on the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project at Ames.

Zin suggested that Park Avenue might be able to access surplus computer equipment at NASA Ames and other government installations through the Stevenson Wydler Act, which is a federal law that specifically promotes this type of transfer of federal property to schools, if the school met the qualifications.

Although she had never heard of the Stevenson Wydler Act, Maxwell felt confident her school would be eligible for benefits. "All of our students qualify for free lunch under federal guidelines," she said.

Once the school was notified it was eligible, Damon Reid and Andres Dominguez, who manage property disposal at NSAS Ames, told Zin of available equipment. The school was especially thankful to Zin for transporting the hi-tech equipment from NASA to the school in Yuba City, 158 miles away.

Representatives from Park Avenue school gathered last Thursday, June 24, for a photo and to present a banner signed by students, thanking NASA Ames and its director.

"Having access to this equipment will allow our students to develop a level of computer literacy that they will need as they move along their educational career and enter the work force," said Maxwell.

To learn more about how schools may qualify for surplus computers, visit the Computers for Learning program website: http://computersforlearning.gov/

For more information about NASA Ames, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/home/index.html

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