Making art with iPads, students learn digital skills - FOX 13 News

Making art with iPads, students learn digital skills

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Forget finger painting -- some Pinellas County students are using iPads to create mini-masterpieces. iPad labs are popping up in art classrooms across the county.

Consider it the easel of the digital age. This school year, iPads are the preferred canvas of pint-sized Picassos at Skycrest Elementary school.

"You don't need to open up colors, you just use your hand and you can draw anything," said Noor Awwad, a fifth-grader at Skycrest, which is one of 11 schools in Pinellas County infusing iPad labs into art classes.

"I can use paint, pencil, crayon, marker, chalk, stamps," says fifth-grader Christopher Olivares.

Art teacher Gina Sullivan helped pilot the program. When it comes to the cutting-edge curriculum, she says she can hardly keep up with her plugged-in pupils.

"They'll be working and a kid will be like, ‘oh, how'd you do that?' And they'll be like, ‘oh let me show you!' And I'm like, ‘wait, let me watch!' " she laughed.

The iPad labs utilize dozens of different art-related apps -- everything from pottery to photo design, as a way to reinforce traditional teaching techniques.

"If we just did a painting project on Van Gogh, then we'll open up an app and we can do a painting project," Sullivan said.

The iPad labs are paid for through a tax referendum voters approved in 2004 and 2008. It pumps nearly $30 million into schools annually.

"Having these kids be able to have the knowledge and experience, start in elementary, building up to middle, high school, then they're going to be ready for the jobs of the future," said Jonathan Ogle, with Pinellas County Schools.

Traditional art techniques are still on the table, too. But these students are clear about their favorite.

"At the end, I'm glad I made it without any other materials, just the iPad," Noor Awwad says.

The tax that funds this program and others like it goes up for a vote every four years. Pinellas county voters will see it on ballots next month.

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