11/25/08
7:07 am

Back to School at the Apple Store

Chaperoning elementary school field trips is something every parent should try to do. You’re pretty lucky, though, when your first call to do one is a visit to the Apple Store.
Apparently some Apple Stores offer opportunities to allow schools to bring in classes. The employees then teach something age-appropriate using the Macs in the store.
In this case, we brought about 17 kids in and they divided them up, two per Mac. They actually used MacBooks, MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs. This was done with the sample machines scattered in the store for customers to play with.
For this first grade class, the tasks were simple. First, they had them open up Photo Booth. The kids had a blast taking pictures of themselves, especially when they were shown the special effects.
Then they opened up Pages. I thought it was weird to have them work with a program from iWork, but it was basically an introduction to publishing, and iWork is the publishing tool.
The kids were shown how to make shapes on the page, and then drag their photos from the PhotoBooth panel to the shapes. They then added a bit of text, usually talk bubbles.
While all the kids had experience with computers before, most seemed a little uncomfortable with the track pad as they are used to mice. But instructions like “drag the triangle along the slider to zoom out the picture” were understood easily.
It is obvious what the goal was here for Apple — get the kids to come home with their printouts and “certificate” and talk to their parents about how cool the Apple Store was. Maybe even force a detour into the Apple Store the next time the family goes to the mall.
From the school’s side of things, there was some benefit as well. I think it was a pretty comparable experience to an in-school computer class — at least at the first grade level. The kids gained a little more knowledge about what computers can do and how to use them.
So it was a win-win. A win-win-win if you count me in there. I mean, how often do you get to participate in a school field trip, do some research for work, and have a good time all at once?