Last November, we shared with you the story of the San Carlos Charter Learning Center (SCCLC) and showed how Vidyo’s platform for education provided 22 California middle schoolers the opportunity to participate in a virtual field trip and spend an afternoon at a museum in Denver, 1,289 miles from their Bay Area classroom.
Monday, the San Carlos Charter Learning Center held another Vidyo-powered virtual field trip! This time the school took them to a laboratory at Arizona State University’s School of Life and Sciences (ASU-SOLS).
As some of you may recall, ASU has been using Vidyo’s technology to connect biology students to experts and leading research scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute’s facilities on Barro Colorado Island, in the middle of the Panama Canal. This program allows students to explore the jungles of Panama from their classrooms miles away in Tempe, Arizona. (If you’ve missed the video, you can always check it out here.)
The ASU-SOLS-Smithsonian virtual classroom project was so successful that the faculty at ASU decided to participate in a new Vidyo-powered field trip. Professor Quentin D. Wheeler, Director of the International Institute for Species Exploration and Senior Sustainability Scientist at ASU and Chuck Kazilek, Assistant Dean of Technology, Media and Communications, worked closely with Ben Sibrack, science and language teacher at SCCLC, to develop a suitable and pertinent class lesson which coincided with content closely aligned to material being studied in the fifth and sixth grade class and ASU’s “Ask a Biologist” program.
The lesson connected many fields of study including Biology, Entomology and Taxonomy. Leveraging Vidyo’s technology, the students could naturally interact and ask questions to Quentin and Chuck over the course of the class. They were also able to take a peek into ASU’s laboratory, and witness for themselves some of the hundreds of species of bugs being studied. Using a MacBook and a simple, off-the-shelf, USB camera, the ASU team was able to show the San Carlos students some of the lab’s most interesting insect specimens, both dead and alive!
The classroom at the San Carlos Charter Learning Center was simply equipped with a regular MacBook plugged into an HD monitor and an off-the-shelf webcam. An iPad 2 was also connected to the videoconference so that the students could pass it around and personally see content shared from ASU. The students were even able to use the iPad 2’s back camera as a means to show Quentin and Chuck their own collection of insects, including a live Madagascar hissing cockroach. Both endpoints were connected over a standard Internet Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections.
The SCCLC staff and students weren’t the only ones impressed by this Vidyo-powered virtual field trip! US Congresswoman Jackie Speier also stopped by and was able to witness for herself the benefits of virtual learning.
In a conversation with Vidyo, Professor Wheeler explained that he has been working on developing tools designed to manipulate and examine insect specimens remotely: Anyone from anywhere in the world, will soon be able to control the tools and cameras at the lab in Arizona. Chuck was thrilled by the potential of combining these remote controlled tools with Vidyo’s platform. “This is the closest thing to teleportation!”, he said with a smile.
ASU Emeritus Professor Shapard Wolf, also involved in the virtual field trip planning, explained how the Vidyo/ASU collaboration was born, “We first used Vidyo…to bring the research being done in the Panamanian rain forest into the classrooms in the ASU campus in the Tempe desert, allowing the students here to interact with the researchers on site. Since then, I’ve seen Vidyo used in many situations, from researchers collaborating across three continents, to second graders in a Texas classroom talking with one of our expert entomologists and wondering at his specimens of beetles as held them to the camera.”
Seeing the excited expressions on the school children’s faces and knowing that they’ve seen something that previously would have required an enormous amount of logistical effort was a very rewarding experience for us at Vidyo!
Vidyo’s education products are eligible for discounts through E-Rate, a federally funded program that provides assistance for schools and libraries to purchase telecommunications and Internet access. To learn more about how to equip your school with Vidyo’s technology, stop by our site.
- Article about the San Carlos Charter Learning Center’s last Vidyo Virtual Field Trip: “Federal E-Rate Program Helping K-12 Classrooms Travel the Globe
- Aricle about the ASU-SOLS-Smithsonian virtual classroom project: “Vidyo’s Education in Biological Diversity“
- More about Vidyo’s platform for Education: Click here.