Students get creative in Chaney Computer Club


By DENISE DICK

denise_dick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Apple, Microsoft and Dell are some well-known computer makers. Now add the Chaney Computer Club to the list.

Students in Benjamin Dooley’s Computer Club are designing, building and programming a fully functioning Raspberry Pi computer. A $500 FirstEnergy grant bought the devices, and a $2,000 grant from the Raymond John Wean Foundation paid for accessories.

Students get to decide what kind of device they want to create and then figure out how to do it, Dooley said.

“Some students are making desktop computers, and others decided they wanted tablets,” he said. “One student is making a digital camera.”

Students begin with a credit-card-sized computer and go from there.

Fifteen high-school students are in the club, and there’s no criteria to join. Dooley, the school’s information-technology teacher, said many club members aren’t in his classes, so it exposes more students to the information. The school asked for a $25 fee at the beginning of the school year.

The club meets weekly after school.

When finished, the students get to keep their devices.

Sophomore Rayonna Booth, 16, is making a tablet.

On a day last week, she was using a school computer to determine the proper measurements for her tablet to make a case for it.

Depending on the type of case they fashion, students will use either the school’s laser or 3-D printer to make them.

“I like technology and I needed something to do besides sports,” said Rayonna, who plays volleyball, basketball and softball.

Teanna Sullivan, 16, is the student who decided to make a digital camera out of her Raspberry Pi.

“I like photography,” she said.

The sophomore, who became a Chaney student in seventh grade, offers help to some fellow club members who aren’t as versed in technology as she is.

Her work is in the early stages as she designs the camera’s appearance. The look is patterned after an outmoded gadget: a Polaroid instant camera.

“We used to have one at my house,” Teanna said.

Dooley offers guidance and support as the students perfect their inventions, but since it’s a learning experience, he allows them to dabble with trial and error, too.

Sophomores Chandler Himons and Garfield Johnson, both 16, are working on the look of their devices.

Chandler hasn’t decided whether he wants to make a desktop or a tablet, while Garfield is making a gaming PC.

Both boys say they’re enjoying the experience, which is both fun and frustrating.

Garfield likes putting the knowledge and skills he’s learned in class to use.

Even if he tries something and it doesn’t work, Chandler likes the process.

“Sometimes you try something and you find out it’s not going to be successful, but you find out another way to do it,” he said. “It’s still fun.”

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