Project GeoNet nets $30,000 grant for school


From left to right, Carol Tempel, coordinator of science math and technology, CCSD; Barbara Dilligard, deputy superintendent for personnel and Robert B. Chaet, vice president and general manager, southern area, Eastman Kodak Company, share a moment of joy in receiving a $30,000 technology grant from Eastman Kodak Comapny. Charleston County School District, which is one of more than 30 schools worlwide to receive a grant in the first year of the program, will use imaging and computer technology in the classroom.

Can Do, MUSC’s 10-years-and-running science partnership with Charleston County School District that began in 1986 photographing Halley’s Comet, has won the district a $30,000 technology grant from Eastman Kodak Company to use imaging and computer technology in the classroom.

The project, called Project GeoNet—the Next Step, will provide students around the globe with access to the photographs and information Can Do has compiled from nine major space and earth sciences ventures. For more than a decade, Can Do has involved teachers, students, educators and community volunteers in working directly with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), leading scientists and other national organizations to actively involve teachers and students in real-world, hands-on science investigations.

MUSC Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine’s Jim Nicholson, imaging supervisor, and Tom O’Brien, instrument supervisor, will serve as mentors, providing technical support and training as they have since the beginning of Can Do.

“The teachers know exactly what they need in the classroom. Tom and I just try to help them meet those goals and realize their dreams as well,” Nicholson said. “This project would not be possible without enthusiastic support in the department and in the MUSC family at large. Fortunately, people in science are well aware of the importance of raising the level of technical skills in the local schools.” For example, Can do teachers wrote the winning grant, Nicholson said, but were greatly helped by the advice and review provided by Joann Sullivan and Margaret Schachte in the MUSC Office of Research Development. He said that as Project GeoNet gets under way, other MUSC faculty and staff will be asked to lend their skills and knowledge to help it succeed.

“With the commitment South Carolina and the Charleston County School District has made to upgrade technology in the public schools, sharing Can Do images statewide and beyond can become a reality,” Nicholson said. “Since every school will have Internet access and basic computer multimedia equipment, Project GeoNet can make its valuable image collection available to every school in South Carolina. In fact, any school anywhere with access to the Internet will be able to use the images in its classrooms.”

Nicholson explained that Project GeoNet will digitize the large collection of images and make them available by:

q Internet Homepage A Can Do Internet homepage displaying the images will be constructed along with appropriate supporting educational material using the new Kodak FlashPix image file format. FlashPix is considered ideal as its multiple resolutions would provide an appropriate image size to any school regardless of the type or power of the computer available.

q Photo CD A permanent classroom set of images will be created using a Kodak Photo CD format, which provides the same type of selectivity as the FlashPix files.

q Hard Copy For special applications where hard copy is a better classroom tool than a screen image, thermal dye sublimation prints, using Kodak ExtraLife Media with its high resistance to fingerprints, spills and light bleaching, would be made available on a cost-recovery basis.

Project GeoNet will conduct intensive training for 10 teachers, selected from the cadre of veteran Can Do teachers, who will digitize the images, create the web site, and master the CDs. To support and train them, the project will call on its business-education partnerships with MUSC and the College of Charleston, along with support from the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium. Nicholson and O’Brien will supervise the imaging work in MUSC’s Image Analysis Lab.

This core of teachers will in turn teach a graduate course in advanced imaging technology and using the imaging curriculum, thus extending GeoNet to an ever-widening field of teachers. Plans also include the placement of useful course materials on the net site to aid all teachers in developing imaging competency.

Charleston County School District is one of 30 schools worldwide to receive a grant in the first year of the Kodak Education Technology Grant Program. Winning schools were chosen from more than 1,200 applications for the most innovative use of Kodak imaging technology to boost the effectiveness of teaching and learning processes.

“The caliber of applicants was very high, but Charleston County proposed an especially promising approach to using technology in the classroom and beyond,” said Dr. Anne Miller, director of Kodak’s Education Solutions and Services. “In the short term, this project will benefit the local community; in the long term, it may set an example for educators worldwide.”

The winning products range from virtual reality activities that relate to the Missouri River, to students from three U.S. schools working with another in Poland to determine acid rain’s impact on selected forest systems, to a school in the United Kingdom sharing various curriculum over its massive network hub.

The Kodak program awarded $400,000 to 30 primary and secondary schools—14 in the U.S. and 16 abroad. By providing money to be used to buy a range of Kodak imaging products and support software, the pilot program’s goal is to stimulate innovative uses of imaging technology to boost the effectiveness of teaching and learning processes.

In a decade-long adventure, Can Do has participated in and recorded many fabulous events using a variety of Kodak products, many of which were films donated by Kodak through the National Geographic Society:

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