From mechanical pencils to megabytes

Colton Starley

When a student reaches in their backpack, they should feel confident in the materials they have to get them to the next level in their education. As time has passed, so has the evolution of school supplies. Students and teachers progressed from pencils to laptops and from whiteboards to SMART Boards. All these changes could seem natural to evolve into, but what separates students from past generations can be centered around one word: technology.

Freshman Adisyn Richards said she rarely used technology at school during her elementary school years, but now consistently uses her laptop for college work.

Richards said pencils, markers, crayons, glue sticks and safety scissors were part of her school supply list as a child.

Other supplies such as erasers, pencils boxes and colored folders were added to the mix. Going through the grade levels, newer supplies were being added to the backpack. As time went on, Richards saw calculators and headphones becoming a thing for her studies.

“Cellphones got introduced to my school and became a thing around seventh grade,” Richards said. “[The school] started buying iPads. We were allowed to bring our iPod touches and cellphones and that slowly transformed to what we know now.”

However, as the scholarly side of the studies were getting more serious, so did the materials. Richards said pencils went from wooden to mechanical, pencil boxes turned into binders and colorful markers were turning into fine point pens and Sharpies.

Some students had a big technological boom in their schooling between the tail end of their elementary years and high school. Since the early 2010s, many schools have embraced the idea of technology mingling with academics.

Junior Cameron Boyer remembers when the use of technology started to come into focus for him.

“[It started in] middle school because we started using phones a lot and they used SMART Boards that they could use on the wall,” Boyer said. “That was definitely a big change in technology in school.”

The introduction of SMART Boards and the use of digital projectors allowed educators to be more interactive and engaged with their student’s studies. Junior Rhianne Foueert can relate to the transition of school technology.

“I remember about third or second grade that we had those projectors that we would write on and they were in black and white,” Foueert said. “To just see the advancement of technology has been pretty interesting, especially in elementary schools.”

Boyer said that the implementation of technology is going in a positive direction. Many students already wield a smartphone and bring laptops to class, so many professors have utilized websites such as Kahoot!, a website used to create customizable quizzes.

“I think it’s going pretty well,” Boyer said. “I don’t really think it’s like taking over or hindering education for anybody. It’s assisting people and helping them learn in different ways. I don’t think it is a big deal.”

Junior Sabrina Juarez said that even though technology has made life easier, some kids are left out of the loop. Factors such as family income force some students to find alternative solutions to keep up with the usage of technology.

“Yes, now there’s more technology in the schools and classrooms than when I was in elementary school, which wasn’t that long ago,” Juarez said. “The thing is that not all students have access to it. So when a kid goes home, they don’t have access to the internet [because] they don’t have laptops or computers.”

Juarez said students who don’t own electronic devices must go to the library, which can be time-consuming but necessary for their academic success. She said that kids are expected by the academic institutions that they attend to have some sort of technological device to keep up with the changing times.

As much as technology has made schooling easier, masters student Joann Jeplawy said there are some factors that can lead to technology becoming a downfall. Jeplawy said having answers at your fingertips can lead to students becoming passive in their studies. She said even though students should learn how to use basic technical skills to get ahead in life, they should not solely rely on them.

“It is good to do things with your own brain and kind of learn how to think through things when you don’t necessarily have access to answers right next to you,” Jeplawy said. “I think that has taken a toll on everyone’s critical thinking skills and the motivation to problem solve sometimes.”

Ultimately, it is up to the individual student to know which ways to use technology when it comes to school. While school supplies have progressed from pencil boxes to laptop handbags, many students come to school to learn and to be knowledgeable in a subject that they spend time and money on.