Thursday, Apr 27, 2006
First Lady Laura Bush joined Director Fran Mainella, Northeast Regional Director Mary Bomar and Boston National Historical Park superintendent Terry Savage in the Charlestown Navy Yard on April 25th for an historic event marking the largest-ever simultaneous "visit" to a national park.
In celebration of National Park Week, children from around the world took part in Ball State University's electronic field trip to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, complete with in-class experiments and an opportunity to interact with an online panel of park service experts from Carlsbad Caverns. Mrs. Bush participated live from the Charlestown Navy Yard with 23 fourth grade students from the Warren-Prescott School, National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, National Park Foundation President and CEO Vin Cipolla, and Ball State University President Jo Ann Gora.
The field trip, entitled "Exploring Nature's Plumbing System," developed in partnership with the National Park Foundation, is an interactive 90-minute broadcast from Carlsbad Caverns featuring park experts, online activities and in-class experiments.
The program, developed by teachers and National Park Service educators, was broadcast live from five locations in Carlsbad Caverns and from Boston National Historical Park. Working alongside experts on the show, students learned about cave formation by forming their own miniature caves from clay and sugar cubes; explored how pollution affects Carlsbad by replicating a parking lot above the caves with sand, rocks and liquid; and asked questions of experts through a live satellite feed, e-mail and telephone calls.
"This remarkable event celebrates what this year's National Park Week is all about--connecting children to America's National Parks," said Director Mainella. "With critical support from the National Park Foundation, we can continue to use cutting edge technology to connect more children and their families to America's national parks."
The National Park Foundation's partnership with Ball State University is just one example of innovative public private partnerships that help bring innovative technology into the parks and to students throughout the nation. The partnership has taken children to the Grand Canyon and, in 2007, will highlight the birth of our nation at Independence National Historical Park, the unique ecosystems and distinct human culture at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and the Japanese internment camps at Manzanar National Historic Site.