Community Members Help Distribute Computers to Families in Need

DeAngela and her mom were already enrolled in Kramden Institute’s computer classes when she received a message from a local Early Head Start employee. After learning news that Kramden was giving away free computers to students, she jumped into action.

“If you’ve ever met me in person, you know that I’m a giver at heart,” said DeAngela. (PTA Treasurer, Substitute Teacher, Member of the Elite Dollz of Faith: Divine Connections…we’d say she’s right!)

DeAngela picks up computers at Kramden to drop off with local families.

“I see what happens to families who lack resources. A lot of local families are lacking in resources that children need to be successful and have a well-balanced academic experience. Not to mention, access to family and friends through technology can make a big difference at this time.”

-DeAngela T.

Over the past several days, DeAngela and her mom shared the opportunitely widely across their networks. Together, they were able to identify nine families in need. In order to help the families who were without transportation, DeAngela came by and loaded up the equipment into her personal vehicle. DeAngela says that she her mother have been busy this week distributing the computers across the Triangle. They even received the help of stylists at her local salon who chipped in to provide gas money. It truly takes a village, and we are so grateful for all those who have come together to support our community during this time of need.

Computer Class Participants Receive Laptops at Oldham Towers

Class Participant Linda holds up her new laptop.

Before now, Phillip had to use his cellphone to send emails and access social services information online. Linda’s employer recently invited her to work from home, but she needed a computer to be able to do so. Today, Phillip, Linda, and nine other Durham Residents took home a laptop computer thanks to funding from Charter Communication’s Spectrum Digital Education grant.

Eleven students completed their fourth and final computer class at Oldham Towers this morning. They left with new computer knowledge and a tool to help them achieve their personal and professional goals. “Even though I knew the basics, this class still taught me a lot of things I hadn’t known before. I would definitely recommend it to anyone I know.” Linda said.

After completing eight hours of basic computer training, each student received a free laptop computer with one year of technical support. This class was the first of six Charter-sponsored courses to be offered in the Triangle this year.


Kramden Laptops Distributed in Zambia

Last fall, Kramden worked with the East Chapel Hill Rotary Club and sister club Rotary Club of Lusaka to distribute laptops in Zambia.

Over the years, the Rotary Club of Lusaka has helped the Chipapa Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia by providing textbooks and solar lamps to aid the students’ studies. After learning from the Headmaster that the school had recently been supplied with electricity but were now in need of computers, the club reached out to their sister club in Chapel Hill to see if they could be of assistance.

With Kramden’s help, the East Chapel Hill Rotary Club was able to bring 35 refurbished laptops to Zambia in October. One laptop was donated to BirdWatch Zambia, a local environmentally-focused entity promoting environmental awareness in schools in Zambia, and the remaining 34 laptops were provided to students at the Chipapa Secondary School.

Kramden recently received an email from Lusaka, praising the “huge success of the project”.

“The teachers and students of Chipapa Secondary school are most grateful for the laptops. I sure you will agree that it is impossible to teach computer and IT studies, which is now in the National Curriculum, without having computers to use!”

PP Hebert – Rotary  Club of Lusaka

Kramden has partnered with the East Chapel Hill Rotary club in previous years to distribute computer equipment outside of the US — once in Nicaragua, and twice in Costa Rica.


Geek of the Year – Lou Voerman

Lou Voerman is Geek of the Year! Logging over 700 volunteer hours since first joining us in 2017, Lou brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the refurbishing warehouse, and classroom. Thank you, Lou, for your continued support and dedication to Kramden’s mission!

Favorite Geek Books: Dune by Frank Herbert

Favorite TV Show: A tie between “The Big Bang Theory” and “Doctor Who”

Favorite Geek Movie:  The original Star Wars (Episode IV)

Favorite Geek Website: Adafruit, Github

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden?  I have been building personal computers for myself and my family since they first came out. I use to build one or two a year due to cost and the limited number of computers a family can use. At Kramden I can literally build hundreds in a year and see them used.

Best Kramden Moment?  It is difficult to pick out one moment. There have been so many, usually related to teaching something new to someone interested in technology. 

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do?  I spend a lot of time with my family (wife, two children and two grandsons) and our two golden retrievers. We walk, bike, kayak and attend many high school and middle school sporting events. I am also an amateur radio operator and a computer hobbyist. Lately I have been experimenting with small microprocessors (Arduino, Raspberry Pi etc.) and their application to amateur radio and general home use. My house is filled microprocessor controlled devices which I have built and programmed.

National Drone Safety Awareness Week – Drone Flight Camp Highlight

Since 2016, Kramden Institute has been offering Drone Flight Camp as part of our summer camp series. In this camp, students learn about the flight characteristics unique to drones, industry terminology, FAA guidelines for recreational use, emerging drone-related careers, and much more! During camp students get to practice flying a variety of small drones with different capabilities, perform simulated missions, and even program flight plans. As part of National Drone Safety Awareness Week, we thought we’d share some photos and feedback from some of our happy campers!

2019 Drone Flight Camp Participants
Programming a drone using Scratch.
Students pose as a giant drone.
Cheering on a programmed drone as it flies to the target.

What did the students like most about Drone Flight Camp? Here are a few responses from past campers:


“I liked learning the controls of flying a drone, how to fly it, the different challenges, the team building, and the competitive elements the most about the camp.”

“The thing that I liked most about this camp was doing FPV (first person view) drones.  These were on the simulator and on the bigger drones.”

“All the drone flying was awesome and the simulators were cool, plus the teachers were awesome.”

“I liked programming the drones using scratch.  I also liked the drone simulator.”

“I liked the obstacle courses that we made.”

Kramden offers a wide range of technology classes and camps throughout the year. Visit https://kramden.org/education/ to learn more!

Geek of the Week – Mitchel Geiss

Mitchell Geiss is Geek of the Week! This Super Geek first volunteered with Kramden in February 2015. Since that time, Mitchell has completed countless refurbishing projects, assisted with basic computer classes, and even recently joined our Production Manager for a few equipment pickups. Thank you, Mitchell, for your support and dedication to Kramden’s mission!

Favorite Geek Books: The 5th Wave, Alita: Battle Angel

Favorite TV Show: Arrowverse

Favorite Geek Movie:  Marvel Cinematic Universe

Favorite Website: YouTube

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden?  Being able to help make computers available to students and families who are in need.  Also, I continue to learn new skills that I can apply to my schoolwork and everyday life.

Best Kramden Moment?  When I was asked by Marshall to be his assistant teacher last summer (2018). That was a great experience for me. It was my first time assisting a small group of adults who needed help learning basic computer skills. For some, it was a first time.

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do?  When I am not volunteering at Kramden, I am taking continuing educational courses. I continue to take computer-repair courses to get more hands-on training. Also I am taking a language course at UNCG. When I am not studying I enjoy playing golf on the weekends when the weather is nice.

SIM-RTP Continues Longtime Partnership with Kramden

The Society for Information Management (SIM) is a professional network that brings together IT leaders to share, network, and give back to their communities. SIM’s RTP Chapter first collaborated with Kramden Institute in April 2008 at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and has been supporting Kramden’s mission to bridge the digital divide ever since.

SIM-RTP volunteer awards a computer to a family at Kramden in 2013

“One of our key philanthropic missions focuses on education and support of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) related activities for local K-12 communities. Kramden offers a perfect fit into this mission by providing education and access to technology for underserved populations throughout the triangle area as well as across North Carolina.”

– John Rinehart, SIM-RTP Board Member – Philanthropic Chair
John demonstrates how to set up a computer with a Kramden Tech Scholar in 2018

This past Saturday, SIM-RTP sponsored another Mini Geek-A-Thon at Kramden. During the event, volunteers gathered to participate in various refurbishing projects and award computers to local deserving students.

SIM-RTP serves several local groups, along with Kramden, that focus on mentoring and supporting K-12 students who are developing their technology skills. As SIM-RTP Board Member John Rinehart explained, “Quite honestly, the members of SIM learn as much from these young people as they do from us.”

To learn more about how your group can help support Kramden’s mission, visit https://kramden.org/group-sponsorships/ .


Area Adults Participate in Lenovo Funded Computer Basics Course


Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and an understanding of computer basics is invaluable. Over 75% of recently surveyed individuals reported that after completing Kramden’s Computer Basics classes, they felt confident using a computer.

Lead Instructor, Lile Stephens, demonstrates text editing in a word document.

This month, another group of local adults gathered in Kramden’s Lenovo Learning Lab to take advantage of 8 hours of free basic digital literacy training. Whether students were new to the computer or just wanting to brush up on fundamentals, participants learned valuable information they could utilize every day at home or in the workplace.

Students practiced holding and moving a mouse, learned how to save and share documents, and for those who didn’t have an existing email address, even set up an email account.

Students practice using a mouse.

Each class participant will receive a free refurbished laptop computer with one year of technical support to complement their training thanks to funding from the Lenovo Foundation.

Chapel Hill Electronics Collection

Donate your unwanted electronics. Reusable equipment will be refurbished by Kramden Institute and distributed to families in need.

https://www.townofchapelhill.org/Home/Components/News/News/14741/22

Electronics Exploration Camp Recap

Our first attempt at taking our Electronics Exploration camp offsite was a success! Last month, Kramden partnered with the City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation to offer an exciting week of camp for middle schoolers at the Chavis Center. Throughout the week campers learned about Ohm’s Law and general electrical engineering principles and were given the opportunity to build and modify multiple circuits. Students opened up some toy instruments to modify sounds and even permanently soldered together a project. At the end of the week, campers took home all of the parts for their circuit kits and all of their schematics.

Campers circuit bend a music toy to cause sounds and behavior not intended by the manufacturer.
Campers test their “dark detector” nightlight circuits.  
A student borrows two additional kits to create a super-circuit.

Kramden offers a wide range of classes and camps for individuals interested in gaining valuable hands-on technology experience. Visit https://kramden.org/education/ to learn more!