Technology Brings Nature Into Classroom

   Fairmount Elementary School students are using technology to get back to nature.
   Students in Mr. Sean Dicer’s fourth grade class log on to UStream, a video streaming website, to watch Phoebe, a hummingbird living in a tree in California. The video is projected onto a Promethean Smartboard, making the tiny bird larger than life. The students eagerly embrace learning about the species, better connecting the facts that they read and hear about it with the real bird they are watching.

   The students created projects depicting Phoebe’s habitat, detailing her manner of caring for the birds and mapping where in America the birds can be found. Eventually, the baby birds fledge, or leave the nest, and the students will wait for Phoebe to return and mate again. Witnessing the events have helped the students retain information about the birds, which is now the "school pet."

   The video camera viewing Phoebe’s nest is located in an Orange County, California backyard. She is a Channel Island Allen hummingbird and has been broadcasted on Ustream since 2007. In addition to the video streaming, online viewers can log in and join a chat room to discuss Phoebe and her babies. Videos of prime events are filed for viewers who may have missed important moments.
   “The students are really living through it with Phoebe, and it makes what they are reading and learning about come to life,” Mr. Dicer said.
Originally published February 2011