Obama and Brown Win! (Sort Of)

In a mock election yesterday, Morse Pond School 5th and 6th graders handed decisive victories to incumbents President Barack H. Obama and US Senator Scott P. Brown.

President Obama received 60.2 percent or 228 of the 379 votes cast, while Republican challenger W. Mitt Romney received 151 votes, or 39.2 percent.

Nearly the same number of students, 60.7 percent, voted to send Republican Sen. Brown back to Washington for another term, against 39.3 percent of students who voted for Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.

“My first interpretation was that people don’t like change,” said Principal Andrea B. Schwamb. She announced the results of the mock election over the school intercom system yesterday afternoon to applause from the students.

While some students echo their parents’ political views, Ms. Schwamb said others vote based on issues that are important to them. One girl said she voted against Mr. Romney because of his stand against gay marriage, Ms. Schwamb said.

Other students voted against Mr. Obama, because of First Lady Michelle Obama’s healthy food initiatives for school lunches. “Some of them were blaming Michelle because they can’t buy ice cream,” Ms. Schwamb said.

Some of them were blaming Michelle [Obama] because they can’t buy ice cream.

                                       Andrea Schwamb

The students told Ms. Schwamb they wished their votes counted in the actual election.

The same mock election was held at Mashpee Middle School last week which yielded similar results. Mr. Obama received 66.5 percent of the 266 votes cast, while Mr. Romney received 33.5 percent of the vote. About 63 percent of the middle school voters cast their ballots for Mr. Brown over 37 percent for Ms. Warren.

The mock vote was organized by a Buzzards Bay-based educational software company Aecern, which handed out smartphones in the computer laboratory that the students used to vote.

The Android devices were loaded with an application that asked the voter for exit poll information, including gender and grade level.

Kelly A. Welch, an education coordinator at Aecern, said the more involved students are with elections at a young age the more responsible citizens they will be when they grow up.

The students told Ms. Schwamb they wished their votes counted in the actual election.

Aecern usually develops science, math and engineering driven software, but decided to develop an election lesson to promote civic responsibility, Ms. Welch said.

The experience for students and teachers was a positive one, Ms. Schwamb said, which she would like to repeat in the future.
Luk Hendrik Laveryvanparijs of Blacksmith Shop Road, Falmouth, founded Aecern with his wife, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist Andone C. Lavery, in April. They started the company to create a way for students to learn through their own discoveries using mobile technologies. The idea to create a mock election with smartphones came up just a few weeks ago and was implemented very quickly, he said.

The students were so excited about engaging with the election that Aecern may investigate doing similar lessons in schools, he said.

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