Friday, Jun 22, 2012
Four kindergarten classes from Addison Central School District in New York State visited the Statue of Liberty, on May 23, 2012. They didn’t take a bus, or a train, but rather traveled virtually through the use of videoconferencing equipment to learn about Lady Liberty. National Park Service Rangers Joanna Pessa and Melissa Magnuson-Cannady presented a distance learning program to the students from the studio on Ellis Island. The rangers highlighted the Statue’s location in New York harbor, its colossal size, and its internal structure. While holding pennies and sticky notes, the students viewed those same items strategically placed on the replica of the statue’s foot. Students were able to understand just how big she is through these familiar objects.
The idea for a distance learning program for kindergarteners came from a teacher at Tuscarora Elementary School in Addison, Doreen Jumper. After visiting the Statue in 2009 with her daughter, Jumper approached Katherine Craine, education specialist at Ellis Island, to set up the park’s first such program for very young students. Working together, park staff and Jumper created a kindergarten-level program which debuted in May 2010. Building on the success of the program, the park offered it again in 2011.
This year’s program included a special twist – Doreen Jumper came to Ellis Island in person, traveling nearly 300 miles, to join the rangers in front of the camera as they spoke to the students at Tuscarora and Valley Elementary schools. Needless to say, the students screeched with delight at seeing their teacher on the screen!
Distance learning programs at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Monument are typically presented to fourth-grade students. “Our distance learning program is the most popular education program we offer,” Craine said, “with more than 200 programs presented to approximately 6,800 students during the past two years. We continue to work to develop different types of distance learning programs, because we want distance learning to remain an engaging and viable option for those schools unable to physically visit the park.”
Programs are offered twice a day from August through April and once a day during May and June. Visit http://www.nps.gov/elis/forteachers/videoconference-program.htm for more information.