Last week, the New York Times published an item about putting wireless Internet on a school bus. Using a $200 router and $60/month for Internet service, a school district in Arizona has equipped a bus, and is allowing students to use the Internet connection on the way to and from school. It’s working wonderfully, not only giving the students a chance to use the dead time, but also making the bus ride more serene:

Morning routines have been like this since the fall, when school officials mounted a mobile Internet router to bus No. 92’s sheet-metal frame, enabling students to surf the Web. The students call it the Internet Bus, and what began as a high-tech experiment has had an old-fashioned — and unexpected — result. Wi-Fi access has transformed what was often a boisterous bus ride into a rolling study hall, and behavioral problems have virtually disappeared.

“It’s made a big difference,” said J. J. Johnson, the bus’s driver. “Boys aren’t hitting each other, girls are busy, and there’s not so much jumping around.”

What a great idea! I’d like to see this expanded. The cost is very small — even if the router should need to be replaced each year, equipping one bus for a school year (September thru June) costs $800. If that benefits 40 students, it’s only $20 per student. What else could we do that would give any sort of benefit for that little outlay?

And what a benefit! Sure, many — perhaps most — of the kids will be playing games, watching YouTube, or using Facebook, but there are some, as the article points out, doing school work during bus time. And by quieting things down, it’s reducing stress on the driver and making for a safer ride. Everyone wins here.

I’ll be sending this to my local school district. And I hope they’ll have been flooded with them by now.