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Intel’s Classmate PC in Action at the Central Park Zoo

“Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo” just took on new meaning. This week, students on a class trip to the Central Park Zoo were equipped with the latest Intel Classmate PCs. They used the notebook-cum-tablet features to sketch puffins and penguins. They attached USB sensors to explore temperature and humidity in the rain forest. They surfed the web, created Lego-based robots, and, despite a few knocks, bumps, and raindrops, the Classmates held up in style.

Intel Classmate PC

Intel Classmate PC

Intel used the venue to showcase the power of the latest iteration of its student PC. The Classmate, like the others, has a rugged clamshell design whose swivel screen transforms it into a touch-enabled tablet PC. It relies on the Intel Atom Processor and has a larger 10.1-inch screen that rotates to turn the Classmate into a tablet PC (with pen-based input). A built-in swivel webcam makes it easy to do self-portraits as well as web conferences. The new version’s keyboard is larger to help kids’ little fingers find the right resting place and it’s powered by the Intel Atom processor. It’s rugged and lightweight, has carrying handles, and is easy to attach to the network, but hardware without software is just a gadget.

The supporting heroes of the Intel Classmates are the third-party players that have adapted their technologies to the Classmate. A few of the partners were on hand for the zoo adventure.

EarthWalk is basically a quick recharge rack that a teacher can use to recharge multiple computers at once. Pasco was on hand with a variety of sensor-based peripherals. The students used a Pasco peripheral that sensed temperature and humidity for their lessons on the rain forest. Pasco’s interesting design allows students to keep the base unit but change-out sensors, so the device is truly multifunctional.

Intel sensors at the zoo

Intel sensors at the zoo

McGraw-Hill Education showcased its LEAD21—a literacy and language arts program.

With schoolchildren tiptoeing into the 21st century at ever-younger ages, the Intel solution heralds some real milestones because it’s the center of a satellite of learning tools. I predict that the biggest competition will come from Apple’s iPad once it has a built-in camera.

For more on the program, visit