May 16, 2012

Pala Native American Learning Center Participates in HPWREN LIVE Activity Focused on Tidepool Vegetation and Animal Life

National Park Service Ranger Rick Jenkins and HPWREN LIVE staff Kimberly Mann Bruch shared southern California coastal vegetation and animal life with Pala Native American Learning Center students in mid-May - using LIVE technology to take the students on a virtual trip to the Point Loma tidepools. The students were able to "touch and feel" several species of seastars, urchins, and clams while talking with Ranger Rick about specific characteristics of these interesting sea creatures.

Prior to taking a virtual trip to the tidepools, which are located more than an hour away from the reservation, Kimberly Bruch discussed the most common vegetation and sea life found in the area and provided the students with insight on volunteering for the National Park Service as well as science careers available in the park sites. She also talked with the students about using Internet-connected computers and smartphones to interact with people around the globe to learn more about the world and its ecosystems.

Ranger Rick of the Cabrillo National Monument, which manages the Point Loma intertidal area, communicated with the students in real-time and answered an array of questions posed by the students. Rick was equipped with a laptop running Skype, a headset/microphone, and a tripod-attached camera while the student group was small enough to huddle around a MacBook Pro with built-in speakers and microphone.

The students were particularly interested in comparing the preserved sea creatures that they were holding in their hands with the living sea life found in the tidepools. When queried, they agreed that the knobby star was their "favorite critter" due to its ability to grow back an arm if lost to a predator.

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