Tuesday, Apr 3, 2012
Did you know that Ellis Island regularly has video conference connections with schools around the country? We are one of three parks in the Northeast region that has the equipment and staff to participate in this type of programming. Up to 10 times a week, Ellis Island interpreters can connect with students who will never leaving their classrooms. During FY 2011 we reached more than 3,585 students during 139 programs. The goal is for students to experience historic sites that they cannot easily travel to, while learning more about the topic from the park service staff. At Ellis Island, students learn about the immigration process during the main time period of Ellis Island's operation (1892-1924). Our rangers enhance the programs through the use of video clips, photographs and other primary sources.
On March 21, the Ellis Island Distance Learning Studio conducted its first international video conference -- connecting with a classroom in Hayle (part of Cornwall), United Kingdom. The students’ goal for the day was to travel the world within their school day. Ellis Island was one of their many stops on this great adventure. Assisted by Google Earth, the program began on their local community, zoomed out for travel across the Atlantic Ocean, with a view of the East Coast, a brief stop in the nation’s capital then heading to New York Harbor. While in the harbor, the students saw the Statue of Liberty and an aerial view of Ellis Island.
These students, not studying immigration exclusively, participated in a different program than what is normally presented. Many of the students had heard of national parks, but not of Ellis Island. Their program included an overview of the historical and cultural impact Ellis Island had on America. The students also asked questions they had regaring anything American. Ranger Melissa Magnuson-Cannady’s favorite question was “Is surfing was a common activity in New York?” The students signed off and moved further across the US, their final stop of the day was Hawaii.
“We’ve established a great year-to-year following, but are excited each month to see new schools join our Distance Learning Family,"said Education Specialist Katherine Craine. "March was very special this year as we’ve partnered with Scholastic to broadcast a virtual tour, which is now available online at www.scholastic.com/immigration .”