A couple of weeks ago the One Laptop Per Child Project announced that it was going to give people the chance to purchase (for $399) two of their laptops – one for themselves and one for a child in a developing nation. This was big news because previously these laptops were only going to be available by developing nations in order to make sure children without access to technology gained that access.

These laptops are actually pretty cool. They are hi-tech in an entirely different way than teens with whom you work might be used to. For example, technology behind the computers makes it possible to quickly and easily setup a network between anyone using one of the computers (a mesh network) so that several people, working on entirely different computers, can work on music, documents, etc. together.

The computers are fairly indestructible with a keyboard that can be spilled on and a hard case with a handle for carrying. It’s not necessarily the computer that a teen would want to have as a daily tool for homework and social networking, but it might be just right for using with younger children to teach them computer basics.

Many teens like having a cause for which they can work. Would the teens in your community be interested in setting up a fundraiser to buy at least a pair of these computers? The teens might then hold a raffle in order to give-away the computer that comes to their community. Or, they might make the laptop a computer to use for programs they implement with younger children.

There’s only a couple of weeks until the laptops are made available to the public. (And they will only be available for two weeks.) But, if your teens can move fast to start their fundraising efforts, this might be a perfect project for them to sink their compassionate and empathetic teeth into.

You and your teens can see a video of the laptop produced by David Pogue of The New York Times.