Nassar, Zaragoza incorporate apps, technology into pen pal program

Science teacher Antonio Nassar and Spanish teacher Javier Zaragoza have teamed up to use technology to connect students from around the world in an innovative pen pal program. The project aims to change the traditional pen pal model using technology, but takes it a step further to focus on common interest.

Instead of using the old method of writing hand-written letters to pen pals, Nassar and Zaragoza will try to use texting, emailing and video chat to connect students that are interested in similar subjects.

“Pen pals haven’t quite worked, but if there is something in common between individuals, like two scientists or two mathematicians, then it will work, because then there will be interest and competition,” Zaragoza said.

The project will also attempt to break down the language barrier that has harmed previous pen pal interaction between students by using translator apps.

The project had its first meeting Jan. 12, where they discussed possible formats for the website they plan to make.

They hope to create a website similar to Reddit.com to facilitate students getting together and sharing ideas around the globe.

Although the group has not formally contacted any other schools yet, individual students have contacted friends that live in other countries.

“I feel like a lot of kids have someone they know that goes to school in another country, so if they just get their friend to get involved, and their friend does the same, eventually it will spread to a huge group of students,” Jason Gabee ’15 said.

While the project is mainly focusing on students right now, they plan to branch out and get professionals involved.

Zaragoza said the project may eventually be run and generated by individuals around the world who have similar interests rather than by the school. The group meets Mondays during Activities period.

 

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