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Kindergartners get 'Teachermate' handhelds

Chicago's public elementary schools are the first to get the learning devices under a new program.

Innovations for Learning

Brazilian schoolchildren aren't the only ones not waiting around for the much-delayed One Laptop Per Child computer--many kids are turning to alternatives right in the USA.

Non-profit Innovations for Learning today launched the "Teachermate" in Chicago public schools, a $50 handheld device that it calls "the world's most affordable solution for providing one computer to every student in a classroom." It's obviously not the most powerful handheld, but it should be plenty for the kids in kindergarten through second grade for whom it is intended, with a 2.5-inch color LCD, built-in microphone and speaker, 200MHz ARM processor, 512MB of memory, and a 4-hour battery. "Software for the handhelds includes a complete K-2 reading and math program that aligns with the Chicago Public Schools' reading and math initiatives," according to its press release.

Today's launch focuses on all 500 of Chicago's public elementary schools, which will receive the devices over the next two years under a program funded by JP Morgan Chase and the Chicago Community Trust. Other cities to get the computers include New York, Detroit, New Orleans, San Antonio, Phoenix, and Denver.

And remember, if you want to get an even earlier head start, there's always the "Baby Laptop."