Monday, June 15, 2009

Google Earth institute off to good start

From left Chancellor Brian Rogers, Google senior technical writer Tina Ornduff, UA Geography Program Director Mike Sfraga

As he welcomed teachers from across the state, UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers said the UA Geography Program’s summer institute fits right in with one of the university’s top budget priorities–kindergarten through twelfth grade education. “We want to connect with students in K-12,” Chancellor Rogers said. The university does so in many ways, including the Alaska Summer Research Academy, the Rural Alaska Honors Institute, Upward Bound, music camps, and art camps. UA Geography is another prime example, as it reaches out to students and teachers in various locations around the state.

Chancellor Rogers and his wife Sherry Modrow hosted the seminar participants June 15 at a picnic on the lawn of their campus home. Surrounded by wild roses and irises, the setting was a pleasant place to kick off the first day of the seminar, with the casual atmosphere encouraging conversations between the Fairbanks, Wasilla, Nome, and Anchorage educators. They excitedly looked forward to using global positioning system units around the campus in the afternoon, and then taking what they collected back to their computers.

“By bringing professionals here it makes a way to connect to Alaska’s best and brightest,” Rogers said. He was particularly excited about the geospatial technology that is being taught in the workshop. “We need students to come to UAF with geospatial technology,” he said. “You can help students understand there are tools to solve questions and help them understand what is going on in our landscape.”

Rogers thanked the teachers for attending the institute. “This will reach a lot of students since many of you reach several schools,” he said. “I appreciate your critical role in educating young Alaskans.”

UA Geography Program Director Mike Sfraga praised the collaboration between his program, Google, and National Geographic. “This is a nice friendship and collaboration,” he said. The institute will help spread the geography program’s work to schools around the state, he said, which will enrich the K-12 curriculum.

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