Technology + Online + Industry + Partnerships

Students Win Green for Going Green

Teams of high schoolers earn scholarships and prizes for theirunderstanding and application of conservationism.

In BriefTHE CANON ENVIROTHON is an annual competitionsponsored by Canon that is designed to instill in high schoolers anunderstanding of environmental science andresponsible land use. The Envirothon tests students on whatthey've learned about soils, aquatic ecology,forestry, and wildlife—and evaluates theirideas for resolving a current environmentalissue.

To qualify to attend, teams of five high school students, each led by a volunteer adviser, meet from late autumn until spring to learn about ecology and to practice problem solving. The training includes field trips to natural-resource sites and lectures by natural-resource professionals.

The top teams in each state or Canadian province are selected on the basis of written tests and oral presentations about ecology, land use, and other environmental matters.

This year's winning teams, comprising about 260 students from a field of roughly 500,000, convened at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, to compete for a total of $1 million in scholarships and prizes offered in conjunction with the event.

To expose students to diverse ecosystems and topography, the Envirothon is hosted by a different state or province every year. Information about the host sites is made available each spring, so the teams train by increasing their knowledge of site-specific soil composition and structure, aquatic and terrestrial fauna, and plant-species composition and structure. At the competition, a day of on-site training is provided by local natural-resource professionals.

Conducted over five consecutive days every summer, the Envirothon is composed of five testing/training stations and an oral presentation component that addresses an environmental issue. Each team's performance is evaluated by experts in the field—foresters, soil scientists, wildlife specialists, and other natural resource professionals. The students deliver their oral presentations to a panel of judges. The theme of the 2007 competition was "Alternative/Renewable Energy," an issue that has attracted worldwide attention. The competing teams focused on the efficient use of energy generated from traditional sources and the development of renewable energy resources.

The winner of this year's event was a team from Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village, CT. For their victory, team members were awarded $250,000 in scholarships, along with Canon photographic equipment for their adviser and sponsoring agency/organization to use for science education.

Northern York High School (PA) placed second, winning $20,000; The Charter School of Wilmington (DE) finished third, taking home $15,000. The fourth-place team, Parkway North High School (MO), received $10,000, and the fifth-place finishers, High Tech High School (NJ), $7,500. All of the winners also received Canon equipment.

SOCIAL NETWORKINGFOR EDUCATION

KIDS SAY THEY are spendingalmost as much time using socialnetworking technologies as theyspend watching television.

This trend and others are reported in a study by the National School Boards Association and Grunwald Associates, titled "Creating and Connecting: Research and Guidelines on Online Social—and Educational— Networking."

The report is based on online surveys of roughly 1,300 9- to 17-year-olds and more than 1,000 parents, and telephone interviews with more than 250 school district leaders. Its findings indicate that nearly all students with internet access engage in social networking, but not just for fun; 60 percent say they use the tools to discuss classes, learning outside school, and planning for college. Students also report using chatting, text messaging, blogging, and online communities for educational activities, including remote collaboration on school projects.

Many schools forbid access to social networking activities during the school day, but almost half of the districts polled say their schools participate virtually in online pen pal or other international programs as well as collaborative projects with other schools. Further, more than a third say their schools and/or students maintain blogs, either officially or in the context of instruction.

The full report is available for download here.

:: Industry News

VERNIER OFFERS FREE DATACOLLECTIONWORKSHOPS. FromSeptember to December, Vernier Software& Technology is running free, hands-on classesfor science and math teachers in 40cities nationwide. Participants willlearn how to use LabQuest, Vernier'snew handheld graphing interface,and how to integrate data-collectiontechnology into chemistry, biology,physics, math, physical science, andearth science lessons. Registrationinformation and other details are availablehere.

FREE EPORTFOLIO TOOL ASSISTS BOSTON PREP STUDENTS. A pilot college preparatory school in Massachusetts called the Boston Community Leadership Academy recently began using a free ePortfolio tool from Digication to help its senior class present capstone projects in community studies. The projects were part of a final assessment for graduation, requiring students to conduct research in their communities, collect data, and defend their portfolios. Some of the projects are available to the public here.

:: Partnerships

ATOMIC LEARNING SPONSORSSTATEWIDE FLORIDA INITIATIVE.Atomic Learning, a provider of onlinesoftware training, has partnered withthe Florida Digital Educator Program, a statewideinitiative administered by the FloridaCenter for Instructional Technology.

The FDEP offers face-to-face training and webinars to help Florida teachers, administrators, media specialists, technology coordinators, and other school staff integrate technology into curriculum. Recognizing a shared mission, Atomic Learning has agreed to support the effort.

DYKNOW TO BE BUNDLED WITH HP EDUCATION SYSTEM. DyKnow has announced a partnership with Hewlett-Packard to distribute DyKnow's Vision and Monitor on HP hardware. The software will be bundled as part of HP's education packages, which include HP tablet PCs.

DyKnow Vision is a tool used for collaboration and access to classroom content. It enables collaborative notetaking and student response. DyKnow Monitor is a utility that offers instructors a thumbnail view of what students have on their screens at any given time, allowing them to block applications, monitor wireless access, and blank out screens.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2007 issue of THE Journal.

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