June 14, 2010

TeacherTECH LIVE workshop at the San Diego Supercomputer Center

By Susan Teel, Director, Southern California Research Learning Center, National Park Service

On a fine Saturday morning, May 15th at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, the High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN), San Diego State University (SDSU) Field Stations Program and three National Park Service (NPS) Research Learning Centers collaboratively led a TeacherTECH LIVE workshop. In preparation for the workshop, Jim Hale, HPWREN, installed and tested a new wireless access point at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument, while Pablo Bryant, SDSU, tested ten LIVE backpacks and provided technical advice to each of the National Park Service broadcast sites, which are part of the Sea to Shining Sea (StSS) Network of NPS parks participating in LIVE programs.

Hans-Werner Braun kicked off the workshop by providing an overview of HPWREN and the history of the Live Interactive Virtual Explorations (LIVE). The HPWREN team has worked tirelessly to refine many prototypes and improve the performance of the LIVE backpack system, reducing its size, cost, and complexity. The current version of the LIVE backpack system includes a suite of equipment, which is easily obtainable and relatively inexpensive. The National Park Service has collaborated with HPWREN to test and explore multiple uses for the LIVE backpacks in various parks around the country.

Living History LIVE from Cabrillo National Monument featuring the Lighthouse Keeper of 1887, as portrayed by Al Wolfing, National Park Service Volunteer.

Great Smoky Mountains - Susan Sachs is buffeted by wind in the majestic mountains.

Teachers in San Diego participated in three LIVE demonstration programs including a living history preview from Cabrillo National Monument led by Al Wolfing dressed in clothing appropriate for 1887 at 1855 the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, one of the first eight lighthouses on the West Coast, with park ranger Rick Jenkins behind the camera. Next, Susan Sachs hosted a scenic view of the Great Smoky Mountains from Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center. Then the Murie Science and Learning Center's Christie Anastasia and Kristen Friesen provided a glimpse of Alaska and Denali National Park. Each NPS site provided a 15-minute demonstration of LIVE program capabilities and descriptions of LIVE program content. During the LIVE demonstrations, National Park Service rangers at each location responded to inquiries from the attending teachers.

Denali National Park - Christie Anastasia introduces the Murie Science and Learning Center (left) and Kristen Friesen (right), in short sleeves, hardly notices the 42 degrees Fahrenheit air temperature as she hosts a LIVE demonstration from Denali National Park in Alaska.

Cabrillo National Monument - Living History hosted by Volunteer-In-Park (VIP) Al Wolfing.

During the "hands-on" session, Pablo Bryant assists Roger Wynn and other teachers as they initiate LIVE programs from the San Diego Supercomputer Center.

During the "hands-on" session of the workshop, attendees formed small groups and assembled the LIVE backpacks in less than 10 minutes. The scene was controlled chaos mixed with the excited chatter of success. Once the LIVE systems were operational, each team of teachers donned the backpacks, walked outside the auditorium, and initiated LIVE sessions from outside the auditorium to Pablo Bryant inside the workshop venue.

At the end of the workshop, teachers requested contact information for LIVE broadcast at each of the featured LIVE sites. This information was provided by email following the workshop, along with other HPWREN connected sites, which have capability to broadcast LIVE educational programs.

The TeacherTECH LIVE workshops are made possible by Ange Mason, San Diego Supercomputer Center, and her dedication to facilitating innovative learning.

Main HPWREN web site (includes information for acknowledgments/disclaimers and feedback/contact)