Topic: Teachers College

May 2, 2007

Ball State University's Electronic Field Trip (EFT) will make its final stop of the 2006-07 academic year in Alaska May 8, affording millions of the country's schoolchildren the opportunity to learn about the history and traditions of Alaskan Native communities.

"Listening to Our Ancestors" is an interactive 60-minute live broadcast from a historic Tlingit village on the shores of Auke Bay in Juneau, Alaska. This virtual trip is geared toward helping students understand the vital history and vibrant cultures of native people living along the Northwest Pacific Coast.

Genevieve Simermeyer, school programs manager for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, will host the event, along with students from Ben W. Murch Elementary School in Washington, D.C., and Harborview Elementary School in the Alaskan capital of Juneau.

Children tuning in to the show will view live demonstrations and participate through art projects and language exercises. They will have an opportunity to phone in questions during the telecast thanks to Iridium Satellite LLC, which is providing satellite phones and air time for the EFT.

"The eyes of everyone participating in this virtual trip will be opened to a way of life that is different than what most of us have experienced, which is what makes this trip such a valuable teaching tool," said Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora. "Through the use of interactive technology, Ball State's EFT program gives millions of students a unique learning opportunity without ever leaving the classroom. That's what I call redefining education."

Prior to the EFT, the student hosts will have the chance to go whale-watching, gather spruce roots, weave baskets, catch and smoke fish and participate in the Tlingit tradition of storytelling in preparation for the broadcast.

Partners of the EFT include Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Sealaska Heritage Institute, Iridium Satellite LLC and UPS Foundation, which will ship all of the production equipment to and from Alaska, at no cost.

Many local PBS stations will air the broadcast live, but classrooms nationwide can access the broadcast, as well as archived shows, on Ball State's EFT Web site and on Apple's Learning Interchange Web site