Mike Doherty | Naturalist
How are kids from California and British Columbia getting up close and personal with sea stars and periwinkles from the New Hampshire coast? By engaging in streaming educational programs presented by Seacoast Science Center that allow our naturalists to interact directly with students anywhere in the world!
The Center is a very popular field trip destination: in a typical year, we welcome 25,000 students, from kindergarten to college, to New Hampshire’s rocky shore. Our seaside location in Odiorne Point State Park creates an ideal indoor/outdoor classroom where we teach about wildlife, ecology, and the natural environment.
Not all students can make the trip to Rye, however. Many schools today are limited by budgets, time, or distance and their classes are unable to experience an in-person visit to the coast. Fortunately, the Center has been a pioneer in what’s known as “distance education.”
Looking for an innovative way to reach more children, the Center opened the Gregg Interactive Learning Studio in 2007. This fully-equipped broadcasting studio allows our naturalists to connect with students in classrooms around the country and around the world. We not only present programs on everything from whales to weather, but we also host live-streaming experiences and movies for our visitors. Distance education is an economical way for schools to experience a “visit” to our location in New Hampshire without incurring the cost of an in-person trip.
Recently, we expanded our distance ed capabilities by partnering with Field Trip Zoom, a new company that facilitates live and interactive educational experiences for educators, students and homeschoolers. This company has thousands of subscribers who register for online programs from museums, science centers, zoos, performing arts centers, universities, and other institutions.
Presenting lessons with FieldTrip Zoom has taken our broadcasting technology to a new level. We invested in a specially equipped “padcaster” that allows us to present information from anywhere inside or outside the building, as well as stream in digital content such as photos and videos. Our naturalists can also take live questions from students who are watching (via a chat feature) and see where students are logging in from.
In our first three sessions with FieldTrip Zoom, our naturalists shared lessons with 38 classrooms–that’s up to 350 students! These classrooms signed on from all over North America: students and teachers from Florida, California, Arkansas, Texas, Illinois, South Dakota, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania and even British Columbia all joined us on a tour through Odiorne Point State Park and the Seacoast Science Center. Though talking to a camera takes a bit of getting used to, our staff got great reviews and looks forward to scheduling more sessions. Future topics may include marine science careers and environmental ecology.
If you would like to learn more about all the field trip options offered by Seacoast Science Center, please visit our For Educators webpage.