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Video conferencing brings animals to classroom

Video conferencing brings animals to classroom

Mark MacAllister created the NC Zoo Society’s interactive website FieldTripEarth in 2003 as a way to bring the exciting world of animal research and field conservation into homes and classrooms around the world. Now he brings this educational program into classrooms via "live" Skype video conferencing sessions. More than 65 programs have been broadcast to schools in North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Kentucky, Florida and New York.

A variety of wildlife-themed programs are available. Some feature hard-to-transport live animals and allow educators to teach about adaptations and animal anatomy while demonstrating those features on the animals themselves. Screech owls, box turtles and ball pythons are some of the animals commonly highlighted. Other presentations focus on red wolf recovery, African elephant research, exhibit design, and the high-tech tools used in conservation research.

The program also facilitates contact between schools and other wildlife experts. For example, it has connected classrooms with field researchers working with dolphins, sea turtles, caribou, polar bears and red wolves.