East Dorset, VT. May 22, 2002- Tool Factory, Inc. is pleased to announce its partnership with Howard County Public Schools in Maryland.  This educational partnership became official on March 21, when a ceremonial signing took place at the Wilde Lake Middle School. Attending the ceremony were coordinating teacher Bob Keddell, Tool Factory company president Heather Chirtea, school administrators, and esteemed members of the professional community.

The Wilde Lake Middle School is located in downtown Columbia in a neighborhood of great multicultural and socio-economic diversity.  The school’s student body reflects such diversity, and teacher Bob Keddell has a vision of helping his students to become leaders in their community by involving them in innovative projects that integrate science curriculum and technology.  His vision has attracted and involved university academics, professionals in the science field, The Toshiba Foundation of America, and Tool Factory, Inc.  With the support of these partners, Keddell hopes to help his students explore their individual heritages and strengthen their self-esteem as they conduct exciting research projects and build websites. 

Tool Factory, Inc. has provided Wilde Lake Middle School with an unlimited site license of the cutting-edge software MultiMedia Lab V, and is committed to training students and offering technical support and advice as students with a wide range of computer skills learn to build websites.  A team of five students has already been trained, and these students will take on leadership roles as they in turn train over 80 other classmates on MultiMedia Lab V.  The goal is to produce websites where the international community can view them, and share in the success of the Wilde Lake Middle School students.   

In addition to building a general website for the school, Bob Keddell and his team of students and staff are excited to begin an impressive project called Aqua Havens for Education, in which students will build natural aquatic ecosystems with the support of three scientific partners: Artificial Reefs, Inc., the National Aquarium in Baltimore, and scientists at Princeton University.  Students will choose what kind of ecosystem to create based on their personal interests and heritage.  Tool Factory Database software will be used to collect and organize data as students observe fish behavior in their aquariums.  Hypotheses, observations, and conclusions will be posted on the website created with MultiMedia Lab V.  This website will allow student to share scientific findings with their partners and the larger community, and will help to establish the Wilde Lake Middle School as a reference site for other schools who may want to follow their lead.  The project is already underway, and Wilde Lake Middle School has recently received incubators with eggs from a threatened Lake Victoria species of fish, as well as another shipment of rare African fish.

Another momentous ceremony took place May 14, when a check from Toshiba American Foundation was presented to Keddell and his students.  Wilde Lake Middle School applied for and won a coveted $9,000+ Toshiba Foundation Grant for the Aqua Haven for Education project.  Students will be using Toshiba digital cameras to take pictures of the fish in their aquariums and collect data for their research.   These photographs will be integrated into the website along with other research data on animal behavior and water quality in the aquariums.  Heather Chirtea attended the presentation of the Toshiba Foundation grant check.  Tool Factory already works closely with Toshiba as a digital camera reseller into education, and has held many successful training labs using Toshiba digital cameras.  Keddell, who has worked tirelessly to bring modern technology into Wilde Lake Middle School, welcomes these partnerships and is pleased to see that his students will soon have the resources they need to get underway with innovative projects like Aqua Havens for Education. 

Finally, Keddell plans to work with students in an after school program to build a website for another project called Shared Summits.  Wilde Lake Middle School is also partnered with  Chris Warner, a mountaineering guide and owner of the Earth Treks’ Climbing Centers, who will be climbing K2 this summer. In 1999, on an expedition to Tibet, Chris started to send dispatches to school students. In the Spring of 2001, over 20,000 school kids followed his Everest expedition on line.   The Shared Summits Program aims to introduce school-aged children to the importance of making our dreams come true, and uses lesson plans, factual contests in the earth sciences and world cultures, and digital technology to allow student to become virtual participants in mountaineering expeditions.  Through such pursuits, the program leaders believe students will “gain a true appreciation for the value of teamwork, trust, perseverance, and goal achievement.”   Students in the Shared Summits program will be using MultiMedia Lab V to build a website and an online trivia contest based on the upcoming K2 expedition. 

For press inquiries, please contact Kendra Ericson at Tool Factory, Inc. 3336 Sunderland Hill Road, Sunderland, Vermont 05250, USA.

Contact Bob Keddell at Wilde Lake Middle School at