At the end of a big upgrade, we had a whole bunch of Intel Core 2 Duo machines left over. They were stable machines with 1GB of RAM and 160GB of hard drive space. Still pretty solid to run Windows 7 I reckon. Before they could be taken to the recyclers I managed to sneak out about 10 machines. I believe there is room for using them as teaching resources. I have computer hardware as a core topic at year 7 where students deconstruct the computer, identify and describe each working part before trying to put them back together. Then at year 11 there is Unit Standard 2780, which is learning more about the personal computer system. At NCEA level 1 and 2, students create a simple LAN for which they would need PC’s that can be dismantled (AS 91081 and AS 91378). But apart from all of these, I was trying to find a use for old machines. Here is what I came up with.
- Displays and working displays.
It’s always handy to display up old PC parts but nothing better than actually making the display computer a working model. So I gave this project to a student. The idea was to make the display while trying to keep it going. I had a television set hooked up on the wall so I decided to make that into the monitor. Except that I also needed to scavenge an old graphics card for an HDMI output as the old computers all have just VGA outs. I now use this screen to display student work for open days through a slideshow.
2. 3D printing
This doesn’t really need a dedicated computer but might as well. I have installed the 3D printing software on it and use Windows Remote Desktop over the network to access the printer. Works like a charm!
3. Database server
Students doing internals on creating databases (AS 91368 and AS 91633) use mySQL and PHP and so I got a computer running WAMP server for them to access and store databases.
4. Streaming computer with an old Handycam
Core 2 Duo’s
This was a tricky one as I was trying to use an old Sony Mini DV Handycam which uses tape video, as a streaming camera source for Youtube. They use an older version of Firewire to connect high speed data. The trouble was again finding the right extension card for the computer. Once done, it was a matter of installing the software (OBS / Broadcam or similar) and then relaying it to Youtube.
5. Weather station
The geography teacher uses a weather station to monitor local weather patterns and students access this data for their geography internal
assessments. The station has an external unit and an internal receiver/display unit which then connects to a computer and logs information on a 24/7 basis. This needed the computer to be running all the time. This information is uploaded to an online server which can be accessed anytime. The older Core 2 Duo’s are solid as I mentioned before and runs well for this purpose.
The most important thing is to make sure that you do not overdo it as it will chew down your power. As a Tech teacher I guess you also have the responsibility to ensure conserving your power resources. Run economy modes (low power mode) on computers whenever possible. Most new machines come with those options especially modern processors and hard drives. All our desktops are set to shut down everyday at 5pm except for the servers and backup machines.