By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, students in Philadelphia have teachers, textbooks… and now tablets.

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A local start-up is behind a push to lower the cost for schools to add touchscreen devices to the classroom.

Independence Charter School in center city Philadelphia is one of five schools getting new Android tablets from Knick Knack Learning.

“Two hundred kids, fifth and sixth graders, will get a chance to have these in their hands,” says Knick Knack CEO Brigitte Daniel.  “That’s where we see the achievement gap broadening, and that’s where we also see the scores in math going down, particularly in minority and low-income neighborhoods.”

Dr. Christine Massey, the director of research and education at the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania, helped design the tablet’s math and science apps.

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“This project is really about getting it to an affordable medium that can be really widespread in schools, so every child can have their hands on it,” she tells KYW Newsradio.

Of course the biggest test will come with the kids.

Sixth grader Torri demonstrated the app that teaches the ins and outs of the ruler.

“I think it’s helpful because most kids don’t like doing things on a book,” she said.  “It’s easier for kids our age to do things on the Internet and technology, because that’s what we’re used to nowadays.”

The pilot program will run through this summer at Independence Charter School, Richard Allen Preparatory Charter Academy, Pan American Academy Charter School, Global Leadership Academy, and Penrose Elementary School.

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