Elementary students meet college professors through interactive videoconference at UTPA
Posted: 02/19/1999
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EDINBURG - With the pull of a computer switch, quickly followed by a faint sound of a bell, more than 25 students from Jackson Elementary School in McAllen were introduced to the latest video technology Thursday Feb. 18 as they met two professors for the first time through an interactive videoconference at The University of Texas-Pan American's International Trade and Technology Building.

Students gazed in awe at the wall-length video screen as they were introduced for the first time to two e-mail pals, a professor at Harvard University and another at the University of Kansas.

According to the children's teacher, Janis Lentz, the children have been working with Harvard professor Jonathan Dresner on a project about Japan and with Stephanie Darnell, assistant director of Monarch Butterfly Watch at the University of Kansas.

"We've been doing this research on how children communicate through e-mail," Lentz said. "I've been doing this for three years now, and it's just amazing how much children learn through e-mail and the Internet."

The children interacted with the professors asking questions about Japan's weather conditions and the migrating trail of the Monarch butterfly.

"This type of technology is important for the children to learn," said Lentz. "In about 10 years this type of technology is going to be very common, so children should start becoming familiarized with it."

Following the videoconference, the students toured UTPA's International Trade and Technology Building, the Engineering Building and the Netmobile.