From: David Scott
Submit: Post Field Note
Date: 11 Oct 1996
Remote Name: tsa-36.ucsc.edu
Marisa, girl, about 8
Diego, boy, about 10
I spent some time at a computer with Marisa. I asked her if she wanted to play a game and she enthusiastically replied yes. I let her pick out a educational reading game which needed to be installed on the computer before it could be played (like most of the games at the center). I was thinking about what I needed to do to the get game working for only a moment before Marisa seized the initiative and began installing the game herself. I was very impressed with the knowledge of computers Marisa already possessed at such a young age. I asked her about this and she explained that her family owns a computer. She had no need for my help, and I feel that she was really just looking for my permission to do what she thought would be best. She move her cursor over the correct next button to push, then ask me Is it okay to push this? Marisa quickly had things running and started playing the game. Considering the pace at which she raced through the reading exercises, and her boredom after about ten minutes, this game was too simple for Marisa. However I feel she did enjoy the multimedia aspects of the game because she would laugh and smile occasionally at the sound and animations.
After Marisa left with her mother, Diego settled into her place in front of the computer. He had been spending some time hovering behind each of the computers waiting for an opportunity to use one himself. I showed him the cabinet where the games are stored and let him pick out Where in the World is Carmen San Diego, which he said he had played before in school. Diego also knew exactly how to get the game started, but he was content to have me push the buttons for him to get it running while he flipped through the instruction manual. He seemed enthusiastic while playing the game, not only because he knew how to play it already, but also because this was a CD-enhanced version of the game with many more graphics, sounds, and animations. I watched him as he raced from continent to continent, only having a vague idea of what he was doing myself. Diegos mother arrived and sat by him to join me in watching him play. She told Diego that she did not understand the point of the game, that it looked boring, and suggested that he try a math game instead. Diego kept insisting that he was having a good time with this game. He continued playing for a while until it was time for the students to leave.
Marisa attributed her computer knowledge to the fact that her family owns a computer. Well my family has owned several VCRs in the last ten years, but I am still the only one who is able to set the timer to record something. So either someone has taken the time to teach Marisa some basic skills, she figured things out for herself by trial and error (which is dangerous to do on a computer), or she is comprehensive enough to decipher the instruction manuals.
I still have little idea what it is I am supposed to be doing twice a week at the center. Its fun to play with the kids, but whats the point? Ive learned about an area where Diego can use some motivation and improvement -- math. Now what?