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Thursday, June 03, 2010, 12:55 pm PT (03:55 pm ET)

Apple rewards elementary school students' excitement for iPad

Thirteen fifth-grade students in Florida were given free iPads by Apple, and could appear in a forthcoming advertising campaign after they were photographed excitedly eyeing the company's new hardware.

The students at Watergrass Elementary in Wesley Chapel were photographed last month staring at Apple's new iPad. The school's instructional technology specialist sent the photos to a local Apple sales representative who sells the company's devices to educational institutions.

"My heart melted," Apple's Andrea Barr told the St. Petersburg Times. One of the pictures showed the children genuinely excited by the sight of the iPad, almost like something you'd see in an advertisement.

Now, John Couch, Apple's vice president of education, is interesting in potentially using the photos for that purpose.

Barr forwarded the photos to her bosses, who decided to reward the 13 children seen in the photos with iPads. Apple is mailing the hardware to their homes in the coming weeks. And in the near future, they could be a part of Apple's campaign to promote the device.

The children were informed this week that they will receive iPads, news that excited them and made the students the envy of their peers. The fifth graders were also given a demo of the hardware by Barr. One 10-year-old said he'll use his iPad for research and playing games.

iPad kids

Photo credit: Keri Wiginton, St. Petersburg Times.


Apple could potentially use the photos to help market the iPad to schools, as a potential in-class learning tool and textbook replacement. Earlier this year, before the iPad was announced, textbook publisher McGraw-Hill said it had plans to release titles for the device.

In addition, Scrollmotion is reportedly working with major textbook companies to develop digital versions of their titles to use on devices like the iPad. Potential features with the 9.7-inch touchscreen include search, video, highlightable text, lecture recording and note taking.

Apple first began marketing the iPad toward a broad audience in early March, when it aired the first television spot during the Academy Awards. That was followed by a new commercial that debuted in May, answering the question, "What is iPad?" with answers describing it as "thin" and "beautiful."