(TNS) — Hannah Holten, 11, of Gamewell Middle School slowly took a resistor and plugged it into a small hole on the white "breadboard" in front of her. Then, she took an LED and plugged the short wire into the same side as the resistor, per the instructions from the Google employees around the boardroom at the Education Center in Lenoir. Piece by piece, Hannah was learning how to use the circuit board of her new Raspberry Pi 2 device.
Google outdid itself this year for Students@Work Week by donating 52 LED computer monitors, keyboards, mice and Raspberry Pi 2 devices to Caldwell County students drawn from all eight middle schools.
Since 2012, Google has participated in Students@Work Week, a statewide initiative with the North Carolina Business Committee for Education and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, to teach students how to build a computer tower in teams every spring. In past years, at the end of the session, one student from each of the eight to 10 teams was able to take home the tower along with all the accessories, such as a monitor and keyboard, through a drawing.
Libby Brown, public information officer for the school system, said that Google decided this year to provide computers and Raspberry Pi 2 devices for all the students involved.
"The other students got the experience, which is great, but they didn't get to take home a computer. (Now) they can put together a Raspberry Pi and a full functioning computer that will support them educationally at home," Brown said.
Enoch Moeller, site manager of Google's Lenoir data center, said he and his team taught students how to put together the Raspberry Pi 2 device, which is a tiny computer used for programming, and install a Lennox operating system on the computer, as well as some programming and some experiments with circuitry.
Hannah was excited to take home the electronics because she does not have her own computer at home. She plans to use it for school work and "maybe entertainment purposes," she said.
Bundled up in a bright pink, hooded sweatshirt, Hannah talked about the importance of girls working on electronics.
"If there's a girl who is becoming an engineer, lots of people will come for them (to hire them) because there aren't many girls in engineering," Hannah said.
The donation of electronics from Google comes at no cost to the school system or the students. For many students, this is the first time and only way they would have a computer at home.
Caitlyn Mudd, 13, of Hudson Middle School, said she does not have a computer at home. She plans to use the one from Google to do research and school work.