Electronic Field Trip offers schoolchildren a front line education into the Frontier Army

Topic: Teachers College

February 5, 2009

Through its leading-edge use of emerging media, Ball State will educate more than 18,000 schoolchildren about the lives and experiences of Buffalo Soldiers, the first African-American men to serve in the Army during peacetime in the 19th century.

Students in grades 6-9 will have the opportunity to participate in this month's Electronic Field Trip (EFT), "Buffalo Soldiers: African-Americans in the Frontier Army," a live 60-minute interactive broadcast at 10 a.m. (EDT) and 1 p.m. (EDT) Feb. 10 from Fort Davis National Historic Site in Texas.

"To be able to take students from around the country and virtually place them in Fort Davis National Historic Site in west Texas to be immersed in the history of these remarkable soldiers is truly a unique learning opportunity for them," said Roy Weaver, dean of Ball State's Teachers College. "This innovative approach to learning is just one more way Ball State is using emerging media to redefine education."

Students from Fort Davis (Texas) Junior High School and Weis Middle School and Bay Area Charter Middle School in Galveston, Texas, will be on hand as presenters and participants of the show. These students, along with experts, will examine the path these African-American men took from being the subject of enslavement and racial prejudice to having a reputation of dedication and bravery while serving in the Army after the Civil War.

In addition to the broadcast, the EFT experience also offers emerging media tools students can participate in before and after the virtual trip, which include webisodes that can be viewed online at the EFT Web site or through the iTunes music store, a Web site filled with interactive games, and standards-based curriculum and classroom activities for teachers.

The broadcast, which is sponsored by Ball State University, the National Park Service at Fort Davis National Historic Site, the African American Experience Fund of the National Park Foundation and the Apple Learning Interchange, will be distributed to classrooms in 37 states across the country. Students can e-mail or call in questions during the broadcast.

Educators can sign up to receive the free broadcast, which offers standards-based curriculum in language arts, music, history and technology, by visiting Ball State's EFT Web site at www.bsu.edu/eft.

Many local PBS stations will air the broadcast live, but classrooms can also access the broadcast as well as archived shows the EFT Web site, and on Apple's Learning Interchange Web site, http://edcommunity.apple.com/ali/.

To learn more about Ball State's Emerging Media Initiative, visit www.bsu.edu/emergingmedia.

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