November 22, 2008
Technology Transfer Workshop for National Park Service staff and
educators led by HPWREN and SDSU Field Stations Program staff
By Susan Teel, National Park Service, Director,
California Mediterranean Research Learning Center
HPWREN and SDSU Field Stations Program led a two-day Technology Transfer
Workshop and Live Interactive Virtual Exploration (LIVE)
backpack system training for National Park Service staff and educators.
Participants learned the basics of how to plan and install a wireless
system which supports LIVE distance education programs and environmental
sensors. The goal of the workshop and training session was to cultivate
expertise with wireless systems and LIVE distance education programs in the
National Park Service. Workshop participants gained an understanding of
wireless data systems sufficient to plan and implement a system at their
parks. NPS staff practiced their skills will now form regional teams to
assist each other in planning and installing systems which meet the needs
of their parks.
Copies of workshop materials are available at
Parks and schools from across the country sent representatives
including: Biscayne National Park (FL), Cabrillo National Monument (CA),
Channel Islands National Park (CA), Cochise and Santa Cruz County Schools
(AZ), Coronado National Memorial (AZ), Dade County Schools (FL), Death
Valley National Park (CA), Fossil Butte National Monument (WY), Grand
Canyon National Park (AZ), National Park Service Intermountain Regional
Support Office (CO), Joshua Tree National Park (CA), Pinnacles National
Monument (CA), South Broward Schools (FL), University of Arizona (AZ),
Yellowstone National Park (MT), Yosemite National Park (CA), and Vista
Unified School District (CA).
Hans-Werner Braun provided an overview of HPWREN and general
network systems, Susan Teel reviewed the history of the Cabrillo
National Monument wireless system and LIVE backpack project, Pablo
Bryant reviewed San Diego State University Field Stations Program
activities, provided more details about environmental sensors, and
shared examples from Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve. Mike Maki,
National Park Service, discussed Department of Interior (DOI) rules
associated with wireless networking and video conferences.
Four concurrent sessions were conducted, where participants rotated
through four stations, while receiving hands on experience and becoming familiar
with wireless radios, access points, cameras, and environmental sensors.
Hans-Werner (top left), Jim (top right), Pablo (bottom left), and Mike
(bottom right) introduced groups of 5-6 trainees to the
equipment at the stations and led them through the basics of how to build,
configure, operate, and explore opportunities with the equipment.
The first day of the workshop culminated at the Cabrillo National
Monument lighthouse, where attendees assisted the instruction team
in building a complete system at a remote location which included
a point-to-point wireless link for Internet access, a local access
point, environmental sensors, a camera, and a LIVE backpack.
The second day of the workshop began with an informal review and question
and answer session led by Hans-Werner, Jim, and Mike. National Park
Service staff discussed ideas for their park and peppered the instructors
Kimberly Mann Bruch led the Sea to Shining Sea LIVE backpack
session with assistance from Jim Hale, Mike Maki, Cruz Jimenez, and
Ulysses Huerta who assisted groups with setting up and testing the
LIVE backpacks. Nine teams assembled and tested the backpacks, and
used Skype to communicate with science teacher Roger Wynn
from Mountain Empire Schools. In short time, the teams took the
backpacks to the rocky intertidal area and initiated LIVE programs.
Jim Hale provided troubleshooting assistance at the tidepools.
Roger Wynn, Mountain Empire School science teacher (top left), graciously
fielded many Skype calls from excited workshop participants conducting LIVE
programs from the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument. Sandra Kaye from
Joshua Tree National Park (top right) experiments with the LIVE backpack.
The NPS camera station at Zone 1 near the tidepools is shown in the
bottom row photos.
(Bottom two photos by Garry Forger, University of Arizona)
The workshop was topped off Friday afternoon with a field trip to San Diego
State University's Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve (SMER). This 4,600
acre research reserve served as an example for NPS staff to visualize a
multitude of environmental sensors in a remote setting similar to parks.
NPS Rangers and Educators toured SMER with Pablo Bryant, who discussed the
SMER network, how it is connected to HPWREN and details related to the
various sensor stations.
Tour of the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve, led by Pablo
Bryant. Arvid Aase, Fossil Butte National Monument, looks through a
spotting scope to locate sensor stations and wireless nodes at SMER
(top right). The picture on the left shows participants at the Santa
(both photos by Garry Forger, University of Arizona)
Due to Department of Interior (DOI) restrictions on video conferencing and
streaming video, we are hopeful that workshop participants will form
collaborative partnerships with universities, educational organizations,
and schools similarly to the NPS-HPWREN collaborative model which enables
wireless connectivity and LIVE programming.
An off-shore communications test was a success and we were able
to connect to Bud Hale at a distance of approximately two miles
off-shore. While this distance is not sufficient for the location
Richard Curry hopes to conduct underwater LIVE programs, it may be
modified to suit the needs of Biscayne National Park.
Hans-Werner brought a 12 megapixel camera with an underwater
housing which we used to take pictures of the tidepools (left
photo) and the kelp
forest (right photo).
The workshop was a success, and several parks are already moving forward to
plan systems to support LIVE programs, environmental sensors, and remotely