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Partnership Brings Unique Education to Pala Native American Learning Center

research in action, nsf, distance learning
National Park Service Ranger Rick Jenkins of Cabrillo National Monument communicated with students in real time and answered an array of their questions. (Image credit: Kimberly Mann Bruch, UC-San Diego)

This Research in Action article was provided to LiveScience in partnership with the National Science Foundation.

For several years, the National Science Foundation-funded High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network team has been working with the Pala Native American Reservation Learning Center staff to produce distance learning activities that link interesting science sites with Learning Center students.

Recently, the effort brought two sites to the students: the Cabrillo National Monument intertidal area along the southern California coastline and the California Wolf Center located in rural San Diego County. Both activities used Skype to connect the learning center students with the remote field scientists so that they could interact in real time with one another.

Coined Live Interactive Virtual Explorations, the distance learning events allow students to talk with scientists out in the field and participate in hands-on activities — without the students ever leaving the reservation.

Specifically, before the Cabrillo tide pools distance-learning activity, the students received several pieces of coastal vegetation and preserved seastars, clams and urchins. The students used the materials to better understand the ecosystem of the science site that they were about to explore via LIVE.

Likewise, prior to the California Wolf Center interaction, the students received a traveling trunk that encompassed several pelts that allowed them to better visualize the size difference of the wolf, coyote and fox.

Editor's Note: Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. See the Research in Action archive.