Build your own computer club(for the pupils)
We've been running a Build you own computer club for the pupils this term, just thought I'd share my experience in case anyone might want to give it a try in their school.
The aim for us this time round was to build 3 additional workstations for the school using £1k of our budget which gave the pupils roughly £333 per group which had to include a Vista Business license(monitor, kb, mouse excluded).
We gave them a guide detailing what sort of spec we were looking at along with a few rules such as the hdd having to be sata, the case having to be MicroATX etc then let them loose on the ebuyer website for a session or two. Once they had spec'd up their pc we went through and picked out any good finds. We had actually already chosen the parts before hand but getting the pupils to choose components was still a good exercise. One pupil in particular managed to find a better CPU that still fitted into our budget. We also briefly went over why certain parts weren't appropriate along with why it’s better to spend more on certain parts than others. The only component they really chose was the case - we want them to be able to spot their PC in a classroom rather than them all being the same or clones of our other workstations. All 3 workstations had the same internal components, it made building much easier and it'll make things easier for me in the future when deploying them.
Between the 2nd and 3rd session I went ahead and ordered the parts(thanks Joe @ CPLTD) and we then started to build the PC's during the 3rd session, the 3rd session onwards went along the lines of:
3: Installing Motherboard, attaching front LED's, Switches and USB/Audio connectors
4: Installing Processor, Memory
5: Installing HDD, DVD Rom, Starting a Vista install
6(this evening): Setting up the drivers, possibly installing a lan game or 2
7 onwards: using the newly built PCs - games etc
Along the way I taught them the functions of the various parts and explained best practices(anti static etc) for building PC's. So far they have really enjoyed taking part in the club and some intend to build their own(which may be next term's club). This was all done with pupils from years 6 and 7, Our year 8's were unfortunately unable to take part due to exams etc. Pupils from both years coped very well - we ended up with 3 pupils per PC taking part.
One thing that didn’t help was me being the only member of staff with experience of computer building – at times all 3 groups needed attention, the head of IT was also there but he’s not the most technical, hopefully he’ll have learnt enough to be able to help out more when we next run the club.
Overall the club has been a great success, we’ll almost defiantly be running it again if budgets allow.