One cold, rainy day, a young boy was walking to school carring numerous textbooks and notebooks. He is in a hurry to get to school to try, in vain, to keep his books dry, but this is to no avail. He arrives at school three minutes before the bell and rushes into his social studies class. He then opens his text books to examine the damage to find that large streaks of dark ink had smeared throughout all of the books, rendering them illedgable.
The use of paper for schoolwork has always been a no-brainer. Until now. Technology has taken over and now offers so much that it seems everything except school work is now done through the means of computers, phones, the internet, and many other media outlets. Long letters that may have taken days to travel from one place to another can now be done instantly. Vigerous calcutaing of money on paper and writing checks are now a thing of the past due to online banking and a built-in calcutater on most electronic devices. So why not switch schooling over to this fast, reliable system we have created?
America as a whole uses over 230 billion pounds of paper (about 12 million tons) a year. Schools in America use an average of 34 million sheets of paper a year, totaling over 3 million dollars. As a picture, the amount of paper the US uses a year can create a ten foot wall of paper that runs from New York City to Sacramento about a dozen times. This may be found as a problem to some, as it is to me. Although we can’t eliminate all use of paper in the US, we can start with eliminating paper in schools.
This could not only be a soultuion to some financial problems, but environmental problems as well. 12 million tons is a lot of paper. One tree is cut down, on average, to produce around 80,000 sheets of paper. In addition to the millions of the trees being cut down, there is an unknown factor of other resources used in the production of paper. About 7 tons of resources are used to produce one ton of paper. That includes gasoline, water, electricity, and many other resources that also have an effect on the environment. Contaminants such as nitrogen dioxide, sulfer dioxide, carbon dioxide and others are released into the air during the process of making paper. Not only are there bad chemicals released, but each tree produces oxygen, which is vital for us to live. Each tree, on average, produces enough oxygen to provide for 3 humans. The more we cut down, the less oxygen will be in the world.
New innovations such as the PLATO-Orion software are avalible for use in any school with computers. These softwares go along side the existing cirruculum that schools are teaching and offers it in an easy to use format that is accessable to students with computers. You may say, ‘Cool, but my school doesn’t have enought computers for all of the students or the resources to buy them.’ There is a solution. Take the amount of money your school spends on paper, and use it towards computers. It is estimated that if all schools across the US stops using paper, in only 4 years, the money saved could be used to buy every student, grades Kindergarten through 12th grade a laptop of decent quality. After those four years, any money saved that would usually be used for paper could be used for anything else.
PLATO-Orion software is now in use at East Rock Magnet School in New Haven, Connecticut. They started using this software because the reciveved a huge grant from the government to turn the school into a tech school. The grant was used to buy PLATO-Orion and to purchase laptops for every student at the school. Since then, test scores have drastically risen and literacy levels are on the rise.
This is just one school and their story. Think if every school across America had programs such as these, which allowed them to more quickly and effectively teach students. What would be the result? A future were ipads and laptops are used to do more than entertain children, but to help them succeed in life. A future where children are found carring only thin, lightweight tablets and computers instead of large, heavy, deteriorating books and papers. Where piles of paper sitting on desks disappear, and our world is a better, eco-friendly place to live. We may soon become the most educated country in the world and be able to advance technologies way past the current possiblities.