Technology at NFA begins with our standard operation; over 600 computers available for faculty and student use, nine computer labs and three mobile labs that teachers can bring into their classrooms. Then it ventures into more adventurous territory with the inception of the new iPad Project and the rehabilitation of our Planetarium. NFA also has 64 Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) installed in its classrooms.
NFA iPad Project
The NFA iPad Project aims to use technology in a way that actively facilitates teaching and learning. One hundred iPads are being used in a few classrooms where students work together in groups to research various topics. Lessons are based in a framework of problem-based learning, a method that can be very effective when supported by technology. Students collaborate together to solve real-world problems and use the iPads to research, write papers, read books, and create presentations. The iPad Project aims to help students become better critical thinkers and better researchers in today's society.
The NFA Planetarium, originally installed around 1980, has received a technological facelift. Computers are used to project the night (and day) sky on the planetarium dome to further enhance our philosophy of experiential learning. Students can see the night sky as it appears anywhere on Earth - currently, in the past or even in the future.
The NFA Observatory, installed in 1982, is undergoing an upgrade. The new observatory is being fitted with a robotic dome, telescope and digital camera controlled by computers. This will allow students and teachers to use the telescope from home to capture images of the planets and deep-space objects. The new observatory is projected to open in the spring of 2012.
Interactive Whiteboards and ActiveExpressions
Teachers use IWBs to facilitate student learning with interactive lessons the students can participate in. There are also eight classroom sets of ActivExpressions, also known as Learner Response Systems. The ActivExpressions are like a remote control that each student uses in the classroom. The teacher will present a question on the IWB and the students can respond with multiple choice answers or "text in" an answer. Using the ActivExpressions allows the teacher to get immediate feedback on how the class understands a topic and can help increase student participation.