Electronic Field Trips program celebrates Earth Day with a virtual visit to the Everglades

Topic: Teachers College

April 21, 2008

Ball State's award-winning Electronic Field Trips (EFT) program will celebrate Earth Day and National Park Week with a virtual trip to Everglades National Park in Fla. From the comfort of their classrooms, schoolchildren from around the country will have the opportunity to visit the expansive wetlands while learning about invasive species, habitat restoration and conservation.

The interactive 60-minute broadcast will take place April 22 at 10 a.m. and again at 1 p.m. (EDT). During each, students will explore several different areas of the park, including the Gumbo Limbo and Anhinga Trails, while participating in three "Your Turn!" activities:

  • "Unwanted Guest": identifying native and non-native species
  • "Going…Going…Gone": the effects invasive species have on native species
  • "We're Sponging off the Everglades": a lesson on water use and conservation 

Students also 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. The broadcast will include a special message from First Lady Laura Bush.

"This is an extraordinary opportunity for Ball State to showcase its commitment to the environment as well as its devotion to offer hands-on experiential learning through the use of digital technology," said Roy Weaver, dean of Teachers College.

Sponsors of the trip include Ball State, Macy's, the National Park Foundation and the National Park Service.

Staff members from Everglades National Park and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center will host the event along with three middle school students from the National Park Foundation's "First Bloom" project, as well as the grand prize winner of the National Park Foundation Junior Ranger Essay Contest.

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, www.bsu.edu/eft, and on Apple's Learning Interchange Web site, http://edcommunity.apple.com/ali/.

In conjunction with the EFT broadcast and Earth Week, Macy's will be launching its "Turn Over a New Leaf" campaign beginning April 20. The first 100 children who visit Macy's on April 22 will receive a National Park Foundation eco-friendly "Kid Power" activity and coloring book developed by students from Burris Elementary School on the Ball State campus.

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