Topic: Teachers College

March 27, 2008

Ball State's award-winning Electronic Field Trip (EFT) program will send more than 60,000 schoolchildren in grades K-5 "flying high" on a virtual trip to the Smithsonian Kite Festival, held annually on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Without ever leaving the comforts of their classroom, students from 49 states as well as Washington D.C., Australia, Canada and Switzerland will participate in the interactive 60-minute broadcast taking place at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (EDT) April 1.

The trip, "Field of Colors: Flying Objects on the National Mall," will teach kids about the power of wind and weather through science and math activities and demonstrations. Every child will have an opportunity to put what they've learned into practice by building, decorating and flying a kite. During the broadcast, students will be able to call in, using a toll-free number, or e-mail questions to the show's hosts and experts, making for a truly interactive experience.

"Ball State takes great pride in offering this hands-on experiential learning program to classrooms around the globe," said Roy Weaver, dean of Teachers College. "Technology has become an essential part of a teacher's curriculum, and we believe that our EFT program is an excellent innovative teaching tool for educators."

In addition to the broadcast, the EFT experience also offers additional content students can participate in before the virtual trip, including:

  • short video packages, called webisodes, that can be viewed online at the EFT Web site or through the iTunes music store
  • a series of age-appropriate classroom activities, developed by teachers who have been immersed in the EFT content
  • a Web site filled with interactive games and activities

Sponsors of the trip include Ball State, Best Buy Children's Foundation and Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

"For many young viewers of the broadcast, this may be the first step toward a life-long love of aviation and spaceflight," said John Dailey, director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

On site to help with the EFT as student hosts will be Julian Martin-Poteet and Nigel Robinson, fifth-graders from Friends Community School and St. Ambrose School in Washington, D.C., and Gabby Fluhler, a fourth-grader, and Emily Brinkman, a fifth-grader, from Burris Laboratory School in Muncie, Ind.

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

The remaining field trip for 2007-08 will take place from Everglades National Park on April 22, and will focus on invasive species, pollination and conservation.