No Series: Mouse Squad

Mouse Squad

Lesson Objective: To teach collaboration and professionalism while fixing computers
Grades 3-8 / Computer Science


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. Working together breaks down barriers between age groups and genders Marry high interest levels with productive learning and service Learn to diagnose, problem solve, and work independently and in groups?


  • Private message to Joshua Lembeck
This is an awesome program! Especially for the kids who really struggle sitting through a traditional class and may otherwise be wondering the halls or getting in trouble. In addition, it really empowers them to take on a leadership role.
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  • Private message to Carol Van de Water
Great idea- Hands on learning about the computer components and how to fix them! Often loose connections, muted sound, and other minor repairs can be fixed by even the littlest learners. I love that you teach the kids how to repair the computers and they use this knowledge to impact learning in the classroom by keeping things running smoothly. Congratulations to you and your Mouse Squad!
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  • Private message to magda hernandez cordova
I like this school it is really interesting
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  • Private message to Anne Napoliello
What a fabulous idea. Having a computer repair background, this is something that really excites me. So many students have an innate inquisitiveness regarding technology because they have been surrounded by it since birth. That familiarity leads to ability; and so, this skill-set is a perfect fit for middle schoolers. I have found so many adults that have either a fear or disinterest in technology, but the kids are a different story. Kudos!
Recommended (1)
  • Private message to aziz farid
really enjoyed the video thinking about trying something like this at my school
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External Resource Materials


  • Amazing Classrooms: Mouse Squad with Annette Holthaus

    Amazing Classrooms

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC We are in Pacifica California along the

    Amazing Classrooms: Mouse Squad with Annette Holthaus

    Amazing Classrooms

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC We are in Pacifica California along the ocean, very small community not high tech at all. Our school is I guess number one in technology in the district because nobody has really taken the stance of getting it going. My name is Annette Holthaus and I do PE and computer lab at Vallemar school and Mouse Squad after school.

    Mouse Squad

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC I have the laptops over in the corner, they work which we figured out, but we also have to see if we connect them with the intranet if they work with the Internet. Mouse Squad is a computer training and service program. I teach the kids how to work on computers, how to fix them…

    Annette Holthaus
    Mouse Squad Teacher

    …I teach them how to go to the classrooms and speak to the teachers in a professional way. And they service the school. The assembly line over here, B wing down there, RSP over there, laptops over there, get moving.

    Annette Holthaus VO So that's what's happening out there that's what they like that's what they thrive on their digital native. That is what their life is.

    Veronica Pollack OC The mouse works.

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC They come in, we sit down I kind of give them the news of the week and then I assign them jobs. And that's what they love there's plenty of jobs in here, that I need to work on the computer lab. But they'd much rather go out to the teachers out there and do their jobs. And I have different teams and each team has a team captain and they go with their team so that the teacher gets to know them. And so it's not just a different person every time. So their team will be in charge of like the kindergarten and first grade another team might be in charge of a third and fourth grade. So and they have their check list of what they need to do.

    Kelly Edelhart VO Come on in. Thank you.

    Male With Checkered Shirt OC Internet.

    Male With Brown Jacket OC Internet working I just checked.

    Male With Checkered Shirt OC Okay. Mouse.

    Annette Holthaus VO It took a while to get that trust because they the teachers at first did not want the kids to be touching their computers and opening them up. And so we had to prove ourselves that we could do that and your computer will still be working and it will work better.

    Kelly Edelhart VO/OC They free me up basically to do…

    Kelly Edelhart
    Teacher And Parent

    …in terms of planning and getting my work done and not having to worry about the computer aspect of it all that I'm not very talented at. It's so nice to see the focus that maybe kids don’t necessarily have in a classroom setting. That they do have in a setting like Mouse Squad because the interest is so high. And I'm also a parent of a fifth grader and a kindergartener. Knowing my son I know he's capable of these types of things but having the guidance to do it is phenomenal.

    Male With Glasses VO/OC The power is working pretty good.

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC It used to be oh we have to go to computer lab we have to practice typing. I said oh no no no no no that's not what we're doing in here, we're gonna be a hands on and working with technology. Just screw it back in I'm not sure.

    Ethan Edelhart VO/OC My name is Ethan I'm ten I'm part of Mouse Squad…

    Ethan Edelhart
    5th Grader

    …and I've just had a lot of fun doing it for the, these two years now. I've always been into technology my whole life. I've been a gamer, a computer user, I've just done a lot of stuff involving technology. I think that we're doing a good service for the teachers fixing their computers because they don’t wanna spend their time working on their computer. They want to spend their time like correcting tests, well they don’t wanna spend their time correcting tests but they like spend their time doing that stuff and it's like good that they have somebody to help them now with Mouse Squad.

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC What I love is the first day of Mouse Squad we open up a computer and they have to put it back together again. There's boys and girls, there's fourth to eighth grade and that whole age and gender difference disappears. They just are all talking, trying to figure out things, what about this, what about that? All of those little cliques and all those other little things just kind of go away.

    Megan Snyder
    7th Grader

    Megan Snyder OC/VO I'm Megan Snyder I'm 13 and I'm in Mouse Squad. It's a great opportunity for me to learn like a whole bunch of stuff about computers. A lot of my mom's friends are tech people and my mom's really tech also. It's good for me to kind of learn all this in the future. It's also a way to help teachers a lot with their tech problems as long as learning something. You go take this up to computer lab and put not working on it. I'd say whoever says that girls don’t do tech they're wrong. They haven't seen what we can do.

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC Probably take this thing out.

    Max Lee OC Well I don’t see a video card in this one like the other one. I'm Max Lee eighth grade and I'm 14. A lot of teachers…

    Max Lee
    8th Grader

    …like the work, the principal likes our work, it's amazing how little kids can help change the school.

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC They're using their brains in something that they're excited about. And they don’t give up. These kids will try and try and try until they have exhausted all of the possibilities in their minds and then they'll come over and say Mrs. Holthaus we've tried this we've tried that. I'll come over and say well let's think about that, I will go with them step by step and say well what about this, what about this? Try this and then if it works they're so happy.

    Ryan Miller VO Ethernet cable.

    Female With Blue Jacket VO Can I get I don’t know.

    Ryan Miller VO/OC Yep it works. Checked monitor. My name is Ryan Miller and I'm in fifth grade…

    Ryan Miller
    5th Grader

    …and I'm almost 11 years old. Yeah we're really fixing them and I think it's great to have them here. We're saving the school money we're saving the teacher's time.

    Female With Pink Jacket VO Oh it's pink.

    Ryan Miller VO It's good that you can make new friends this way you might even have some people in your class or other people from other classes so yeah I think it's a good experience.

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC Okay how are you doing with hooking up and how are you guys doing?

    Male With Gray Shirt VO Actually we're doing pretty good.

    Female With Pink Jacket VO We're doing good.

    Annette Holthaus OC I'm so glad that printer worked.

    Male With Gray Shirt VO Yeah.

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC I notice some of the kids have come out of their shell. Some of them came in they were very very quiet, some still are kind of quiet but they've met friends from different levels. Before that the fourth graders wouldn’t really talk to the fifth graders or the fifth graders wouldn’t really talk to the sixth graders. In Mouse Squad they all know each other so they have no problem going up to somebody that's in eighth grade and the eighth graders are kind of mentors for the younger ones.

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC There's only one IT guy for the whole district of seven or eight schools. He's in charge of all those computers he really loves Mouse Squad because now he does not have to come running over here ever five minutes. He knows that Mouse Squad will go over and fix the printer problem or they'll help with the monitor not working or all those kinds of problems and that helps him immensely.

    Male With Blue Jacket VO Yeah we're doing these three and those three.

    Angela Koblitz VO/OC When I arrived here these computers were running so slowly that students we're able to look up…

    Angela Koblitz
    Librarian Specialist

    …books that they were searching for in the library in time to check them out before they had to return to class. And the Mouse Squad heard about it, came in, they physically cleaned up the computer then they would check for how fast the computer is running and make whatever adjustments were needed. And now they're the computers are running perfectly.

    Max Lee OC Okay everything's good.

    Male With Blue Jacket VO Here you go.

    Angela Koblitz OC Thank you thank you very much.

    Male With Blue Jacket VO Have a good day.

    Angela Koblitz VO/OC You too see you again. I love this because any time I have a problem all I have to do is contact any of these students listed on this business card at extension 155 or I can email the Mouse Squad and they come on Thursdays when they meet and help me out.

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC They're really learning they're wanting to learn they're like little sponges and it just gets me excited about teaching. Boys and girls make sure everything is cleaned up and plugged in. There's lots of stuff, so before you leave. We take our kids on field trips because it is so close to Silicon Valley and we take them there and they see what adults are doing that maybe they could be doing and they're like, "Oh wow this is really exciting." We're able to have access to different places like Google and EA and all those kinds of places, we're going to Dreamworks.

    Annette Holthaus VO It takes the littlest thing for them to get excited and for having them go to Dreamworks they are beyond excited.

    Ed Granlund OC/VO Welcome to…

    Ed Granlund

    …Dreamworks, how many people have been here before?

    Ethan Edelhart VO I've seen your movies.

    Ed Granlund VO How many people have seen the movies? There you go, that's what we wanna see.

    Nicole Hirsch OC What's the average time it takes for a movie to come out?

    Ed Granlund VO/OC For a movie? The entire start to finish from the time somebody green light's a film to the time you see it in the theaters is roughly four years.

    Male Voice VO Wow.

    Ed Granlund VO So the first stop we're gonna make is in our data center.

    Sean Kamath VO/OC Believe it or not most of the artists who work in…

    Sean Kamath

    …this building have not been in this room. So you guys are getting a special treat, each one of these machines is eight gigs of ram two processors with two cores in each processor. And about I wanna say about 100 gigs each for hard drive space.

    Veronica Pollack OC Do these ever break down?

    Sean Kamath VO/OC Yeah they do all the time; in fact something is breaking almost every week or every two weeks. Usually a disk drive sometimes memory.

    Sean Kamath VO/OC Crunch on in guys all the data that is rendered or used to make our movies actually resides on these hard drives between us. There's about five petabytes of storage total in the studio. Anyone know what a petabyte is?

    Ethan Edelhart OC A thousand terabytes?

    Sean Kamath VO That's right a thousand terabytes. So we have 5,000 terabytes of data here.

    Male Voice #2 VO Whoa.

    Ed Granlund VO/OC This room is our build room and our repair room. We call it the Computer Hospital. This is where they all come to get fixed. We use this room to unbox and we install the operating system, you guys are familiar with Windows.

    All VO Yes.

    Ed Granlund OC Right have you heard of Linux and Unix?

    Ethan Edelhart OC Yeah.

    Ed Granlund OC/VO Okay so we use Linux and Windows.

    Megan Snyder VO Which one do you use the most?

    Ed Granlund VO/OC Linux. We use Linux mostly because that's how our, our animation software runs on Linux.

    Ed Granlund VO Okay everybody take a set of glasses there.

    Ethan Edelhart OC It's gonna be awesome.

    Male Voice #3 VO It's like a movie theater.

    Ed Granlund VO It is a movie theater. So this is our screening room, so there's two things we're gonna show you today.

    Female Voice VO "Kung Fu Panda I In 3D" and then we're going to move onto…

    Ed Granlund VO At this point you will need your glasses for…

    Female Voice VO …yes.

    Ed Granlund VO …this is fully finished.

    Female Voice VO Now it's fully finished and then I thought since you guys were a special tour I would treat you guys with a "Kung Fu Panda II" preview. So.

    Ed Granlund VO For those of you who have cell phones and cameras this is this footage you actually can't record.

    Male Voice #4 VO That was really sick, it was awesome.

    Female Voice #2 VO And it's only in its scene.

    Andrew Pungprakearti VO Hi I'm Andrew I'm a…

    Andrew Pungprakearti

    …paint fix lead here in Dreamworks. Welcome to Dreamworks, this is where we review our shots. So all these shots we've touched and worked on.

    Male Voice #6 VO Mega mind.

    Andrew Pungprakearti OC/VO So this is like a demo I put together yesterday it's just like taking you through what I would do on a shot. This is for "How To Train Your Dragon" this was actually used in the film. The effects guys came to me and they were like, "Oh we have a problem, like we rendered this fire wrong." They wanted actually more fire coming out right here, over this side of the tongue, I manually hand painted fire, so this was one of the fixes I did. Technology is just a tool it's like a like a pencil, and what you really need to know is like you have to be able to do the foundation artwork. If you like to draw, just draw all the time, and that's what I did, so.

    Ed Granlund VO Let's give Andrew a big hand.

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC What I wanted to find out from you guys is what you thought about being here, being at Dreamworks?

    Veronica Pollack OC It was really awesome to just be able to come here…

    Veronica Pollack
    6th Grader

    …and like see all how they made the movies.

    Nicole Hirsch OC I was definitely into…

    Nicole Hirsch
    6th Grader

    …the art because I love to draw and yeah.

    Ethan Edelhart VO/OC I could not believe how much work goes into it.

    Megan Snyder OC It's a fun and open place where people are able to express themselves.

    Annette Holthaus VO/OC It kind of gives you ideas you might not go with it but it's another door to open up for you guys. Thank so you so so so much. Having the kids learning how to to do the computers how to fix them, how to work on them I think it's a great thing for their future. So that they could go into the workforce knowing that they had like actual work a working job. Nice manners I love exercising manners. Oh Mouse Squad is really nerdy that's what they were saying when we first started, now they're saying how do I sign up? They're seeing that they're getting responsibility and input from the teachers, that they're being praised for; they're going on these cool field trips. They'd doing all these great things, so what is nerdy about Mouse Squad? There isn’t anything.

    Female With Camera VO Everybody smile look this way look this way. Awesome.

    Annette Holthaus OC Geeks are the totally new cool.

School Details

Vallemar Elementary School
377 Reina Del Mar Avenue
Pacifica CA 94044
Population: 534

Data Provided By:



Annette Holthaus
Kindergarten 1 2 3 / Teacher


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