Northwest Elementary School

NEC’s $25K Tech Makeover Contest winners updated their school’s technology with new projectors, displays, and monitors.

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Northwest Elementary School
Quick Facts
  • Facility: Northwest Elementary School
  • Vertical: Education
  • Location: Chatsworth, GA
  • Challenges:Outdated projectors couldn’t properly display classroom lessons
  • Solution: 2,800-lumen NEC VE281X projectors; 32” NEC E324 displays; 19” NEC AS192WM displays; and NEC E464 edge-lit commercial grade monitor
  • Result: Students can see their projects more clearly with new technology

NEC Display Gives Northwest Elementary School $25K Tech Makeover

Kids naturally gravitate to technology in the classroom, so it makes sense for teachers to freely use digital projectors—unless no one can see the lessons they display.

Such was the case at Northwest Elementary School in Chatsworth, GA, where outdated projectors made it difficult for students to see what was on the screens.

But that all changed when Northwest took home the top prize in NEC’s $25,000 Tech Makeover and chose 29 new projectors, as well as digital signage, to bring itself up to date with the prize winnings.

When the school receives its prize this fall, it’s going to make a big difference in Northwest’s classrooms.

“Our teachers are very technology savvy and rely on the projectors a lot,” said Principal Paula Martin.

Teachers use the projectors for everything from vocabulary lessons to social studies video clips, as well as software-based group lessons. Students themselves will use the projectors when giving a presentation to their classmates. The older kids also produce a lively morning announcement video each day that’s shared in every classroom.

The Challenge

At eight years old, however, Northwest’s dated projectors no longer shone brightly or clearly enough for kids to easily see what was on the screen. On top of that, windows line at least one wall in most of the classrooms and wash out the projection.

“It’s extremely difficult to see the images with older projectors,” Martin said.

Occasionally the old projectors wouldn’t boot up at all or conked out midway through a class, which frustrated teachers who needed them for the day’s lesson.

Northwest considered replacing a few projectors at a time, but administrators soon realized that, with 29 classrooms to outfit, they wouldn’t be able to keep up with the need. After the school budgets for essentials each year, there’s typically little money left over for technology, Martin said.

“Technology was my focus, and it was extremely frustrating doing the budget this year,” she said. “After you do all these ‘have-to’s,’ what do you throw out so the kids can have another computer? When you talk about trying to find 29 projectors, we were stunned with how we were going to do that.”

This challenge led them to NEC’s $25,000 Tech Makeover.

Northwest’s curriculum coach told Martin about the opportunity that could change everything: NEC Display Solutions was sponsoring a contest that would award one school $25,000 worth of digital screen and projector technologies.

“She asked if we could do this,” Martin said, “and I was like, ‘Oh, yeah!’”

The school rallied to produce a video entitled, “Oh it Froze,” based on the song “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen. In the clip, students and teachers sing about how their outdated computers repeatedly freeze during class.

“We wanted to do something to improve teacher morale,” Martin said. “With budget shortages and efforts to support the Common Core, the contest pulled teachers together. Not just teachers, but the whole community.”

NEC determined the winner based on which school’s video got the most votes. To ensure their success, Northwest’s district office emailed contacts throughout the state, and Martin handed out voting instructions as parents picked up their kids after school. Even a local congressman helped drum up support.

Out of nine finalists, Northwest won the top prize with 3,137 votes.

The Solution

As a result, Northwest is taking home 29 2,800-lumen NEC VE281X high-brightness mobile projectors, which are designed for educational environments, conference rooms and other small spaces where there’s a lot of ambient light.

Since Northwest’s teachers are very technology-savvy, they plan to use the projectors daily in the classrooms for multimedia lessons in each subject area, as well as software-based educational programs. The projectors also will provide an efficient way for teachers to give students directions for projects that they’ll then complete in small groups.

The school also ordered 23 32-inch NEC E324 LED edge-lit commercial-grade displays that will go into some classrooms. These screens will be used to play the morning announcement video that students produce each day.

Because the school won’t have to spend so much money on projectors and new bulbs, it’s going to buy eight new computers this year. To complement the computers, it’s also getting eight 19-inch NEC AS192WM desktop monitors with built-in speakers as part of the NEC prize.

The monitors will be much more streamlined than the bulky  ones the students currently use—which Martin refers to as “monsters.” This will allow students more space to work on the desks in the computer lab. The monitors will also display a much clearer, crisper picture that’s more in line with the quality students expect from the technology they use.

As a final addition to their prize, one NEC E464 edge-lit commercial grade monitor will go into the parent waiting area to share news and information. Martin hopes that a screen showing video announcements will be more compelling than either the static sign by the road or paper notices plastered to the school’s walls.

“I don’t know how many times I can say we’re excited,” Martin said. “It leaves you speechless.”

The prizes recently arrived, and Martin said the school is developing a plan to begin installing them.

“It’s going to be nice for kids to come into the classrooms this year and be able to see things really vividly,” she said. “I can’t wait to see them using it all.” And neither can the team at NEC Display—check back in the fall for an update on how the students are enjoying their new technology.