Computers: Tools in the Hands of Kids

Schools will open with a new emphasis on practical skills

When Angie Nolting learned to use a computer at the Ortonville, Minn., high school last year, she went far beyond basic programming. Mastering an electronic work-sheet program called VisiCalc, the 16-year-old junior built a financial model that showed which livestock operations on her parents' 40-acre farm were no longer profitable, and why. By surveying farms in the area to compare feed costs, weight gain per animal and other variables, Angie discovered that the family's flock of 50 sheep was overfed. Guided by her data, the Noltings cut back on feed outlays. Although the threat of foreclosure forced the family to sell...

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