With the right amount of funding and some cooperation from internet service providers, a group of 5th, 6th and 7th graders at a new charter school in Peoria may soon be able to steer an underwater submersible through the Black Sea. It’s a blended learning initiative that a charter school board wants to drive to make sure students get the right hybrid of factual learning and hands-on experience.
Roberta Parks, president of the Peoria, Illinois Chamber of Commerce has worked with several other business leaders in that city to launch a new charter school for 5-7th grade. The Peoria Charter School Initiative was successful in launching Quest, a charter school built around science and math objectives, earlier this year.
There are still some issues with meeting a $500,000 challenge grant by Caterpillar. But they are close. Parks says they are about $60,000 away from capping that matching grant request.
They are also seeking help in connecting Internet 2 lines to the school, so that they can launch the Jason project with Bob Ballard, the man who discovered the Titanic.
Students will be able to interact with submersible robots cruising under the Black Sea. And by interact, I mean they will be able to steer them. I talked to one of the charter school’s board members, Mac Pogue, a retired IBM executive who has spearheaded a lot of the charter school’s growth efforts. He said the challenge is getting the funding for the cables, which are not cheap.
That access could mean the difference between low performing students in Illinois, who apparently begin to fall in performance when they reach the fifth grade, and students who feel their learning involves meaningful interaction with a global story.
Instead of learning math, or marine biology, through a textbook, they could be pairing facts with operating knowledge. They would literally be able to test out their facts and use those facts in a real life project-based environment. Giant plasma screens, interactive internet controls of the sub, and they could ask it to go wherever they wanted it to go.