Taking an Electronic Field Trip

Turn your TV and computer into a Passport to Knowledge and fly your students up into the Stratosphere

Passport to Knowledge is an ongoing series of electronic field trips to scientific frontiers. It's designed as an innovative learning experience that integrates live interactive telecasts, pre-taped video backgrounders, responsive computer communications and hands-on in-class activities to allow you and your students to "travel along" on an experience that would otherwise be almost impossible. Before now no student has ever flown aboard the Kuiper Airborne Observatory. Live From the Stratosphere will have two high school students and an educator from Atlanta, Georgia, flying at the very edge of space and studying stars and planets as the eyes and ears of hundreds of thousands of students and teachers all across America! And in the first-ever 2-way video broadcast from an aircraft in flight, youngsters on the ground will be able to interact with the astronomers and aircrew aboard the plane.

We're also planning video and phone connections so that youngsters confined to hospital beds can "travel" aboard the Kuiper. We're including live video uplink sites in rural areas, and in states without major planetariums and science centers. Live From the Stratosphere will not only provide insights into the wide range of science involved in contemporary astronomical research, but also demonstrate how the accidents of time and place are increasingly less restrictive on what you and your classes can achieve.

Project Components:

"The Three T's"

Live From the Stratosphere uses the complementary contributions of the three T's--Television, Telecommunications and you, the Teacher-- to enable students to become active participants in some of the most challenging and exciting scientific research currently underway.


The live and taped video programs are key components, but they will contribute most to your students' learning experience if activities and lessons precede and follow them, as many teachers chose to do as part of Live from Antarctica (LFA). This field trip is no everyday science lesson, and there's no denying infrared astronomy involves unusual tools, techniques and terminology. Your students will get more if they come better prepared for the experience. To assist you with this, the program to be fed September 19, 1995 (also available on tape) is designed specifically as teacher orientation. You may choose to share some segments with your students, but in this tape you'll see Hawaii's award-winning KidScience distance learning educator Patty Miller demonstrating some of the hands-on activities to be found in this Guide, and hear teachers and students talk about how they used computers to gain unique experiences from LFA.

The October 5th program is consciously designed as The Pre-Flight Briefing. Students get to meet the aircrew, astronomers and teacher and students who'll be aboard for the live flights, and walk around the KAO while it's still on the ground at NASA Ames Research Center, its home base in Mountain View, California.


No project could ever provide sufficient video uplink sites to connect all students who might wish to interact with researchers at the remote field site, whether Antarctica or in the stratosphere. But on-line networks allow us to extend the interactivity symbolized by the live, 2-way video and audio into every school and class across the nation. Our on-line components allow students to send e-mail to experts who've been seen on camera and others, and to receive responses to their specific, individual questions. Field Journals, or research diaries, provide personal behind-the-scenes insights into the people, places and processes seen on camera. And even more than in LFA, LFS will support collaboration between teachers and students, and feature the results of at least one such on-line collaboration during the live telecasts. (see Going On-line, pp. 62-63 for more details)

This Guide provides basic information--and we hope some encouragement and motivation--to go on-line if you've not done so before. Once on-line, you'll find many more specific suggestions about how to use the extensive World Wide Web and gopher materials to be found there.

The Teacher

This Guide and the accompanying "mini-kit" of additional publications and discovery tools are designed for you, the Teacher. They provide practical, hands-on activities for the middle school grades, often with suggestions about adapting them to lower or higher grades. You'll find icons indicating which activities can connect across the curriculum, synergistically linking science with math, social studies, language arts, and other disciplines. We've also provided a Matrix or grid showing how the various activities, grouped by program, embody the suggestions of the AAAS's Project 2061 (Benchmarks for Science Literacy) and the California Science Framework.

One teacher from Maryland reported that LFA provided her with just the right kind of material to meet her state's new Student Assessment requirements, which she found missing in more traditional texts and lesson plans. Again, we are very interested in how the Guide works for you, and welcome your feedback by mail or e-mail.

Format of the Teacher's Guide

Each activity in LFS is designed to:

Expand: review and reinforce concepts, and reteach by tapping visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic and other learning styles. Several activities lend themselves to a form of embedded assessment: for example, rewriting "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" requires an understanding of the new science discussed in the programs, an appreciation of literary form--and a sense of humor.

NASA's Interest in Greater Public Uses of the Internet

Support for Passport to Knowledge: Live From the Stratosphere comes, in part, from the Information Infrastructure Technology and Applications Program of NASA's Office of High Performance Computing and Communications. This integrated multimedia project coincided with NASA's commitment to demonstrate and promote the increased use of the nation's vast but hitherto under-utilized volumes of Earth and Space Science Data. We hope you and your students will mine the wealth of information and marvel at the instructive and often beautiful images that await you, just an on-line connection away.

What Teachers Said About

"Live from Antarctica"

I have watched my students become totally involved in the activities inspired by our on-line project and their excitement is evident in the quality of their art and writing. Doing in-depth research and using new tools of technology has given my students new ways of seeing while meeting their diverse learning styles... I believe that my students have learned more ... than they would have done using more traditional methods...

Shirley Roen, elementary teacher, Renton, WA

Cooperative groups do in-depth research in areas of interest and share their findings with classmates, other classes in the school and other teams on the network. The project has allowed for peer tutoring, learning with and about others from all parts of the world and real life learning (the best kind!)

David Grott, 6th grade teacher, NY

Several students have brought me articles they ran across pertaining to Antarctica. It became a place for them. Since this is our first year using the Internet, LFA was a wonderful way for me to involve students with on-line activities.

Connie Jones, Enka High School, NC

I think the new look at career opportunities that will be opened up for young people nationwide is all by itself worth every penny spent on the undertaking. There is something particularly galvanizing about "real talk" from "real people"...

Claire Skilton, Mendocino, CA

Today our sixth grade cadre, 120 strong, gathered in the early morning to watch what we called "Almost Live from Antarctica" (editor's note: this class watched on tape, not live)... found the opening shots breathtaking and will readily admit I had to wipe away a tear at realizing how truly alive this continent has become to us in the last several weeks. Students thoroughly enjoyed the program...

Jo Lynn Roberts, 6th grade teacher, WA

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