HULL, Iowa (STPNS) -- Students entering Boyden-Hull schools may never hear the sound of fingernails on a chalk board, but they will have the chance to pull together the sights and sounds of words, edit videos or demonstrate a math problem on a 77-inch screen in the classroom.

Over the summer 17 SMART Boards were installed in school classrooms, nine in the high school building and eight in the elementary.  At the same time the last chalkboard was removed.

SMART Boards are interactive, computer-driven whiteboards with touch sensitive surfaces, which allow students and teachers to share assignments, surf the web or do math problems.  The surface of the 77-inch screen displays and controls an attached computer so an individual?s finger becomes a mouse that controls the computer?s desktop.

Another feature of the SMART Board is its ability to ?write?.  The Board has a pen tray, holding four plastic markers.  But they?re not actually markers.  When one of them is picked up, the SMART Board recognizes the marker and writes when it is touched on the Board.  They write with digital ink over anything and the notes can be saved to a file.  The Board also comes with an eraser, which uses the same technology, and erases any pen markings made.

?On the SMART Boards, students and teachers can to into websites, bring up documents, watch a video, check word pronunciations or draw maps,? explained Sandy Groom-Meeks, the technology coordinator at Boyden-Hull.

The SMART Boards were made possible in the school through the work of Challenge 2000 Foundation, a fundraising group that focuses on securing technology for Boyden-Hull.  Challenge 2000 provided $55,000 for the 17 SMART Boards.

Groom-Meeks explained that 17 teachers applied for the Boards and others wanted to wait and see how they would be used.

?Right now, everyone is learning how to best use the Boards.  I?m sure that in a few months we?ll see a lot more applications,? said Groom-Meeks.

The SMART Boards and projectors were installed during the summer by Randy Baartman and Daryl Egdorf, school custodians, saving the district $10,000.

?We?re so grateful to them and to what Challenge 2000 is providing for our schools,? said Groom-Meeks.  ?The SMART Boards will transform how we teach.  Even larger districts don?t have this many SMART Boards.?

The biggest advantage to the Boards is their ?hands-on? capabilities.  Students learning to read can pull together a word with the correct picture and then hear the sound of the word for multi-sensory learning.

Students can start with a map of the world and put countries in the correct locations.  Working on such a large screen will also hold student?s attention and help retain knowledge.

Science teachers can connect a microscope to the computer and display what they?re looking at on the large SMART Board.  Then they can write on the Board, describing what is under the microscope.

The Boards allow computer-based learning without isolating students in front of individual computer screens.

?We?re hoping to have more SMART Boards in the school in the future.  It all depends on Challenge 2000 funding,? said Groom-Meeks. ?We are really grateful for people?s contributions to the Foundation and their support of our schools.?

Anyone interested in contributing to Challenge 2000 is invited to call either of the Boyden-Hull schools.