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Grant Information

Web World Wonders - Florida's Star Schools Project

The United States Department of Education
The United Star Distance Learning Consortium
The Florida Department of Education
The Institute of Science and Public Affairs, Florida State University

The use of live video cameras on the Internet has been around for some time now. These cameras allow viewers to see a captured still image from a remote location at that exact point in time. The image is usually updated over a period of time ranging from seconds to minutes depending on the equipment. Many resort areas have live cameras to showcase the current weather. Some large cities are using these cameras to monitor traffic flow. Other uses such as the famous "Fish Cam" where the camera is pointed at a fish tank are considerably less informative. The Florida Department of Education is developing a project to combine the immediacy of being able to view remote locations with valid educational content for student use.

Florida's Star Schools Project, Web World Wonders, makes it possible for anyone from anywhere around the globe to explore many of the natural habitats of Florida via the Internet. Users can take a live look through the eye of a camera and view such natural wonders as tropical coral reefs, swamps, marshes, and estuaries. Teachers will find lesson plans and student activities correlated to the Sunshine State Standards intended to increase environmental awareness and communication skills, as well as opportunities for discussions with others exploring these sites. Experts are available online to answer questions and even to pose some of their own. The Florida Department of Education's Bureau of Educational Technology and the Geography Education and Technology Program at Florida State University provide support to the districts selected to manage these web sites and to develop the curriculum activities they contain.

Currently there are three operative sites, at Pigeon Key in Monroe County, Sawgrass Lake Park in Pinellas County, and Wakulla Springs State Park in Wakulla County. Four other camera locations are in the planning and implementation stage. These are at Six Mile Cypress Clough Preserve in Lee County, at NASA facilities in Brevard County, at Teneroc Park in Polk County, and at Key Largo School in Monroe County. Each site provides the opportunity for any user connected via the Internet to control the live video camera to explore the site. The cameras have 360-degree rotation, up/down movement and 12 X zoom, all under user control. By clicking on a point in the picture, the camera will move and provide a new image from that location. The system is designed to handle multiple simultaneous users.

The web sites contain lesson plans to guide students and teachers in keeping a log of their observations each time they visit the site, including information on current weather conditions. Information on environmental issues relevant to each site is available via links to a variety of research areas. Students are encouraged to pose questions online to local experts, as well as develop research reports on related topics.

This project is a part of the USDLC (United Star Distance Learning Consortium) Star Schools Grant, funded by the United States Department of Education. USDLC is composed of five state departments of education - Florida, Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina and Texas; one local education agency - Education Service Center Region 20 in San Antonio, Texas; one University - Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois; two state schools serving the hearing impaired -New Mexico School for the Deaf and Texas School for the Deaf; and a non-profit distance learning programming network, StarNet.