The Need – Two of the biggest trends in K–12 education are the adoption of mobile technology and the implementation of outdoor space. Regional School District No. 7 in Winsted, Connecticut, is on the cutting edge in both. It allows middle and high school students to use their smartphones for educational and social reasons during the day. The schools also have courtyards that are used for outdoor learning opportunities and as places for students to take a break from the rigors of schoolwork. “We were early adopters of allowing students to use their phones,” said Dr. Judy Palmer, district superintendent. The internet is right at the fingertips of our students, allowing learning to take place anywhere, anytime.”
The Challenge – But if students are going to be encouraged to use their personal devices, they need to have a way to charge them. District officials realized that adding charging infrastructure to the courtyards could meet that need and promote greater use of the outdoor spaces.
The Solution – After hearing about the Outdoor Charging Station from Legrand, the school board and administrators believed they found a solution. “We had to bring electricity to the courtyards,” Palmer said. “The charging stations have a sleek design and do not take up a lot of space. They are in use daily, and we haven’t had any significant increase in our utility bills.” Two charging stations were installed in the high school courtyard and two more in the middle school courtyard. The pedestal-shaped stations include a combination of standard power outlets and USB ports. They have a National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) 3R rating for use in all weather conditions. They also feature LED lighting, which helps illuminate the courtyards.
Palmer’s office looks out on the high school courtyard, and she sees firsthand every day how popular the Outdoor Charging Stations are with students. Some educators may question the value of allowing students to use their phones during the school day and in advocating for them to take breaks outside. Palmer, an educator for more than 30 years, the last 17 as a superintendent, is not one of them. “One of the things that I like the most is when I look out my window and I see students sitting in the Adirondack chairs relaxing, listening to music, talking with one another, charging their phones,” Palmer said. “The more I see students in this particular environment, the more I see the value in it. I am a firm believer in encouraging students to take a break and relax with their friends when they can.”
The Legrand Advantage – Palmer has seen the evolution of technology in schools during her career, from a single computer lab serving an entire school to laptop carts pushed around to classrooms. Now computers in the form of smartphones and tablets fit in a hand, are mobile and access the internet wirelessly. And nearly every student has their own. Palmer sees her schools’ courtyards as a place where mobile technology and outdoor space can come together to advance students’ social and emotional development.
For more information on Legrand, please visit https://www.legrand.com.