Students say smart idea for smart phone

February 18, 2008 3:37:13 PM PST
Students got to try out a new smart phone in Philadelphia. 14-year-old Amber and Ambriana Brown are using smart phones to enhance the way they learn math.

The numbers savvy twins from southwest Philadelphia joined 100 students in three North Carolina school districts who've been given the same phones as part of the K-Nect program.

The $500 smart phones offer internet access, an mp3 player and 900 phone minutes. It's loaded with animated problem solving strategies. Students can blog and ask each other questions. Researchers are trying to see how helpful smart phones can be in helping teens learn math.

"We've set up some very specific incentives and parameters. If you use this phone to learn math, you can keep the phone and you can earn awards like more minutes," Stephen Weimar of K-Nect said.

Amber & Ambriana, were recruited locally by Drexel to develop peer help videos for the project. They believe the peer support combined with real life animated examples help bring numbers to life.

They say using a smart phone to engage young teens in math is not just decent, but, smart.

If the project does well in North Carolina, Drexel's math forum would like to get smart phones into the hands of a lot of Philadelphia students. Their hope is it will help bridge the digital divide.

"These students we selected because they had relatively little internet access at home and probably not as much in the way of computers," Weimar said.

So far the students give Project K-Nect an A.