PTK Open House & 96/97 Wrap-up

From: (Tim McCollum)
Subject: PTK Open House & 96/97 Wrap-up
Date: Sun, 25 May 1997 19:41:34 -0500

Hi Fellow PTK'ers,

        Two more weeks and it's summer vacation......yea!  

        Hope your 96/97 PTK involvement has been an enjoyable, rewarding
and positive experience for both you and your students.  I'm looking very
forward to the continuation of LFM in the fall and focusing on the tropical
rain forest in the spring. As classroom teachers collaborating with the PTK
initiative we certainly aim to model the goal of being lifelong learners.

        On Monday evening, May 12th, we held a Passport to Knowledge Open
House.  During the event, students and parents drove our Lego Dacta rover -
M.A.R.I.O ( Manually Activated Rover for Investigation and
Observation.....named by the kids! ), shared their own contributions to the
LFM and LFAII web sites, and were treated to a wonderful slide presentation
on Antarctica by a husband/wife team of retired professors from our local
university.  The couple had been to the Palmer Station area two years ago
and their program related very well to our LFAII experience. 
        Now that the PTK initiatives for this school year are winding down,
I'd like to offer some words of insight ( and humor ). In attempting to
gather some narrative feedback from my students ( 190 - 7th & 8th graders
), I asked three questions. Perhaps some of their responses could be of use
in planning your next PTK involvement.

1. Both LFM and LFAII involved following the work of real scientists.  What
new insights and understandings have you gained about their actual work,
their tools, and how they communicate their discoveries to others?

* I learned that scientists work hard, not only with their hands but with
their minds.
* Scientists don't just sit in the lab all day.
* When they plan to put a spacecraft on another planet, they must think of
* These projects made me realize that scientists are more than the Far Side
"white lab coats            and beakers" stereotype.
* They have to learn to work together as a team.
* I learned that sometimes it is hard to get information to other people.
* It has opened a whole new door of science that I might like to pursue.
* I learned how they use their tools and knowledge to overcome their problems.
* I have a greater respect for those who give up portions of their lives to
live in desolate places to do research.
* I thought it was neat how they shared their work with us.
* They have to organize a lot of data so it can be accurately used for
* I learned that they don't always get the recognition they deserve.
* Oil isn't as easy to clean up as I thought.
* A scientists's work is never done.

2. What lessons, activities, and/or topics did you find most interesting
and enjoyable?

* The study of penguins because I think animals of remote places are interesting
* Listening to our PTK Open House speakers
* The live broadcasts because they were really happening as we were watching
* We got to ask questions about what we wanted to know and got answers
* By participating we got to find out what was really happening instead of
being left out
* Driving the rover, shrimp & krill labs, the oil spill lab, the PET
project, the CFC lab
* The chat sessions because we got to ask questions to REAL scientists (
and they got me out of math )
* All the interaction helped give a better idea of what we were learning
* Journal writing for the web site
* By getting to experience some of the same things as real-life scientists
so you can see if you want to go into that kind of profession
* The blubber glove, it was fun, cold and wet!
* The web site because you could go at a pace you liked and you learned
more that way
* Red Rover, being able to drive something hundreds of miles away
* The challenge questions, they made us think
* The MOLA project and converting our paper models into 3-D on the computers

3. What suggestions can you make about student participation in future PTK

* More "hands-on" activities
* More chat sessions
* More MOLA type projects to show how things work
* Stopping the video tape at times for discussion
* More time to browse the web sites

        Hope these few bits of insight offer some food for thought in
planning for your future PTK involvement. Happy summer.....on to Mars!



Tim McCollum                                     217-345-2193 (school)
Charleston Jr. High School                       217-345-8121 (fax)
920 Smith Dr.                          
Charleston, IL  61920