Anguilla Library Computer Club

Bob Green, Island Harbour, 497-4079

Vince Cate, Old Ta, 497-3255

Primary School Computer Project: Fall 1997

[Click for larger view of Road Primary classroom]

The computer club has been asked by Mr. Elvet Hughes, the Chief Education Officer, to assist in deploying some donated computers to the primary schools on the island. We have searched the Internet and found several programs that will be useful for young students and which will run on these ancient computers. So far, we have set up 7 of the computers and verified that they work, and made seven copies of the diskettes. When we have distributed one computer to each school, we will set up another batch and see if they work.

What Kind of Computers Are These?

These are old IBM compatible computers donated by Mohawk College in Ontario, Canada. Each computer that we have distributed so far has a color monitor, a keyboard, and a cabinet containing two floppy disk drives. These drives take old-fashioned 5.25" diskettes, not the newer 3.5" diskettes. There is no mouse and no hard drive. All the systems we have set up so far have 640K memory.

[Click for view of PC at Road Primary School]

Because there is no mouse, no CD rom, no sound card, no high-resolution color graphics, not even a hard drive, the programs for these computers must fit completely on a 360KB diskette and use CGA graphics. Nothing released in the last 4 years is likely to work. If you want to donate some educational software for these computers, look in the bottom of your drawer and the back of your closet for your original version of Reader Rabbit or Flight Simulator.

The Keyboard

Many programs refer to the RETURN key, which you probably will not see on your keyboard. This is now called the ENTER key and usually has an arrow pointed down and to the left. There may be two ENTER keys, one on the right of the main alphabetic keyboard, which corresponds to the "carriage return" on your old typewriter, and a second on the numeric keypad at the far right. The first one is usually what the programs want, although the second will usually work as well.

Find the ESC key. You will need this for getting out of screens and programs.

The the 4 arrow keys: UP arrow, DOWN arrow, LEFT arrow, RIGHT arrow. These are used for moving around the screen and on menus.

The Diskette Drives

You have two diskette drives, one on top of the other. The top one is called the "A" drive and the bottom is "B". "A" will contain the software to start your computer. You should never have to remove that diskette. The "B" drive will contain the diskette for the current game you are running. You will enter and remove diskettes from the "B" drive.

The drive has a handle that must be turned up to remove a diskette and turned down after inserting a diskette to clamp it in place.

Care of Diskettes

Diskettes are very fragile. When not in the computer they should be put back in the ziploc bag to keep dust out, and put in a safe place. Do not put anything on top of them. Do not leave them in the hot sun. Do not put any magnets neer them. And they wear out eventually too! When that happens, come to the Computer Club meeting on Monday afternoon between 3:30 PM and 5:00 PM to get a replacement. The club meets in the back of the Arts and Crafts Building, next door to the library.

Here is what a diskette looks like:

How to insert a diskette: Diskettes are square and it is very easy to insert them upside down, wrong side, etc. Only one way works: hold it in your hand with the label on top, the oblong read-exposed area pointing toward the computer, and the little circle to the left. Now turn the knob on the diskette drive up, insert the diskette, and turn the knob down again. That's it.

Let's try it. Ensure that the "Boot diskette" is in the top drive "A". Now insert the "School Mom" diskette in the lower drive "B".

Turning the Computer On

You should have a SURGE SUPPRESSOR with the computer cabinet and the monitor plugged into it. You can leave the computer and the monitor turned on if you like and just turn off the SURGE SUPPRESSOR at the end of the day.

Your color screen may or may not have a switch to turn it on. If you see one, pull it or push it or turn it. You may have to turn on power at the Surge Suppressor first, because the monitor should be plugged into that.

The power switch for the computer is usually on the right side. Flip it up. The computer should start to humm, the monitor should start printing some stuff about checking memory, then the red light on drive "A" should go on as the computer boots up. Finally, it will switch to drive "B" (you should see the light come on) and start the School Mom program.

How to Switch Programs

You don't have to know any computer commands to switch programs. Here is the simplest way: turn the computer off (you can leave the monitor on), remove the program diskette from drive "B" and put it back in the ziploc bag, insert the next program diskette carefully into drive "B" and lock in place, turn the computer back on!

What If There Is Only One Disk Drive?

The first batch of computers all had dual floppy disk drives.

However, we have more back at the warehouse with only one floppy drive!

Don't worry. When the computer starts up, it will tell you when to remove the Boot Disk and replace it with the Application Program Disk.

If you want to switch programs, get out of the current program, usually by typing ESC several times. You should see a B:> prompt on the screen. Now insert the new program and type GO. The red light should come on and the new program should start.

Turning it Off

Flip the computer power switch down, then turn the monitor switch off.

Program 1: School Mom

Probably the best program to leave in the machine: has the most functions for the most age levels.

You are presented with "menus" of choices. The bottom choice is usually EXIT MENU. The top choice is always the easiest level (i.e., in spelling tests for example). You select your choice by pressing the Cursor Up or Cursor Down key until the line you want changes color. Then press Enter.

To get out of an exercise, press ESC.

Note: if the arrow keys don't seem to work, check whether you have pressed NUMLOCK by mistake. Press it again to turn it off and re-enable your arrow keys.

Things that may be broken: the first art drawing lesson, the spelling word lists after the first two menu items (I think we may have to create word lists for this too work.)

Program 2: Googol Math Games

Kids love this game, which is actually 3 arcade games of old, but you can't win them without knowing your MATHS. The menus work the same as in School Mom (use the arrow keys to go up and down, then Enter). ESC gets you out of a game back to the Menu.

If someone ends the game by mistake, you can just type GO and enter to restart it.

There is an X command in the games which the student can use if they are stuck. Typing X should give you an explanation of the maths problem you are facing. Try it.

Program 3: Typing Made Easy

This is a program for those who want to learn to type on the keyboard without looking. To get out of it you press F8 to get back to the main menu, then press "0" (zero) to exit the program. There are many levels of lessons, starting with lesson 1.

Program 4: South America

This is a text geography game about South America, suitable for those who can read well. Class 3 and up according to Teacher Felicia who reviewed it for us.

It first asks if you want to restart a saved game. Usually you will type N and press Enter. However, you can save your status when your time is up and continue from where you left off the next time.

It then goes through a few instructional screens. Press Enter at the end of each screen.

You will then be dropped off the coast of South America. You TALK to the computer, telling it what you want to do in sentences of two words, a VERB and a NOUN. For example, the first thing you should probbaly do is TAKE RAFT.

At each point the program tells you which directions you may choose from: S, W, E, N (for South, West, East, North). Type S to go South.

If you see anything like MATCHES, then TAKE MATCHES. You may need them later to light something.

If you see a building like a TRADING POST, then ENTER. You may find something you can buy.

Good luck.

Program 5: Kidrite

This is a very simple word processor for children. They can write stories in it, save them, continue on them another day. If you had a printer, you could print them as well. This is not a game. Press ESC to get back to the menu, then press the Down arrow until you reach Stop. Then Press Enter.

Program 6: Multiply

Demonstrates then teaches Multiply. The instructions are a little hard to follow if you don't know the terminology of muliplication (multiplicand, etc.) but just experiment with it. Will walk you through a long multiply problem digit by digit. This program starts with demonstrations, the step by step problems with help, then practice, then tests.

There are different levels, some appropriate for class 2 and others for class 3 and up (thanks Teacher Felicia).

Program 7: Divide

Similar to Multiply, but for Long Division. Actually shows you each step in Divide and walks you through it.

Program 8: Word Challenge

Only for most advanced students now - very advanced vocabulary. This program is really intended for high school students and the vocabulary is quite a challenge. However, we have the registered version which allows you to customize the word lists. We are looking for a volunteer to create a simpler word list with definitions and sample sentences suitable for the school children of Anguilla. The current version of Word Challenge is available on the Net, but the word files are too big to fit on 360KB diskettes.

When Your Computer Breaks

Bring the computer, the keyboard, the power cord, the monitor and your ziploc bag of diskettes to the Computer Club meeting between 3:30 PM and 5:00 PM any Monday. The club meets in the back of the Arts and Crafts Building, next door to the library. We will try to solve problem or replace the broken part or give you a replacement computer (until they are all broken!). Don't worry about these computers too much. They are old and they will break sooner or later.

Computers Installed So Far

[Click for larger view of Island Harbour Primary School]

Sept 17, Island Harbour. Phone 497-4181. Head Teacher Neta and computer helper Teacher Felicia.

Sept 24th.Morris Vanterpool Primary School. East End Village. Phone: 497-4419. Head teacher Mrs. Maralyn Richardson and Teacher Gloria. First computer died on deliver, so went back to The Valley for a replacement. Lesson: bring a spare during installation!

Sept 24th. Valley Primary School. 497-2887. Ms. Veda Harrigan.

Sept 30. Stoney Ground Primary School. Phone 497-2888. Mrs Josephine Hodge.

Oct 3. Road Primary School. 497-6348 Mrs Pansy Richardson. Resource person is Mr. Bren Romney, ph 6229. This school has a web page at!

Oct 21. West End Primary School. 497-6721. Ms. Pauline Hughes.

Technical Details

We have set up disk drive "A" as the boot disk. These disks must originally be made on a DOS or Win3.1 system, not on a Win95 or WinNT system. The command is
        format a: /s /f:360
Then you have to create an autoexec.bat file that switches to the "B" drive and executes GO.BAT
Once you have a good BOOT DISK, you can copy it many times on Win95 or DOS using the DISKCOPY command:
     diskcopy a: a:

Now you make application diskettes to go into drive "B". They should have a subdirectory for the application that is on them and a single file in the root directory (go.bat). These can be created on Win95.

    md googol
    cd googol
    copy c:\clubmenu\googol\*.*
    cd \
    edit go.bat
You are now in the DOS editor creating the GO.BAT file. Enter commandsto switch into the application directory and start up the application program. The directory name and program name will be different for each application, so try it by hand first on the hard drive before you start making the diskettes. After the program runs, the last line in the GO.BAT file should be CD \ to return to the root directory (so the user could type GO to restart the application). Here is a sample bat file for Googol math games:
    cd googol
    cd \
Before you duplicate this disk with DISKCOPY, test it. Insert the new application disk in drive "B", the lower one. Insert a known good BOOT DISK in drive "A". Turn the power off and on. See if the application runs. Exit the application. Type GO. Does it run again? Your disk is perfect!

Tips For the Installer

Test the computer first in the club room. Try each diskette if you have time.

Don't forget to check the ziploc bag and disk drives for all of the programs.

Take a spare computer with you in case the first one jogs loose on the way to the school.

Take a power bar with you. The school is unlikely to have one.