Friday, January 11, 2013

Learning from the distance: American scientist Jean Pennycook was teaching German students from the other side of the world


Do you think penguins might encourage students, who live more than 15000 km far from them, to think about the animal life and their relation to the impact of global warming? I didn’t. But since these morning hours I am convinced that it is possible.
Students of grade 8 were sitting in my classroom and had a Skype meeting with Jean Pennycook, penguin explorer and researcher of its population and animal behavior. She is living with her fellow scientist, Mr David Ainley, in the Antarctic at Cape Royd in the Ross Sea region for several months each year during the Antarctic spring. They live in a tent far from civilization but next to the Adelie penguins. And they are living next to their notebook which offers the “door” to the world next to a satellite mobile phone. 


The students grade 8 were knocking at this door this morning and got a fantastic view into a researcher’s life in that icy natural environment and how penguins live over there. 13 hours of time difference had been bridged to make this meeting possible. At 10 am German time the European students got a 45 minutes’ view into the Antarctic night where it is not dark at the moment. Jean showed them the exploring tent with all the material they need for their work. She went outside this tent with the camera and presented the sleeping tents, the toilet which looked so completely different to ours at home and the rough and raw environment. The kids got a lot of impressions about how a scientist works and lives in the nature.


 How many species of penguins live in the Antarctic region? How many species live on earth in general? Why do they have pink legs? What do they eat? A lot of questions and answers, information about this cute animal which lives there free from any environmental influence.
Concerning to their chemistry lessons’ topic “climate change” they got information about the impact of global warming to these birds and the area in general.


videovideo: students' meeting with Jean Pennycook, part 1


Video: students' meeting with Jean Pennycook, part 2 video




Finally they asked about the situation of “Balou”, the young Adelie chick in nest #6. The students had had the possibility to name a chick of an Adelie penguin family some weeks ago. (http://www.penguinscience.com/education/royds_nestcheck.php).  Since that time they were constantly interested in the situation of Balou and its parents in the colony. “Everything is well with him”, Jean answered.

Thank you very much, Jean Pennycook, for this wonderful meeting and all the support.



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3 comments:

  1. What a unique and extraordinary experience for you!

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  2. It's wonderful to see your students in Germany speaking with Jean Pennycook in Antarctica. The amazing thing about Skype is that Jean can teach so many students from around the world, right from her tent in the middle of Ross Island. My first graders were delighted to speak with Jean last week. We especially enjoyed the view outside the tent. Skype makes the world seem so much smaller. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Wao...amazing what a great and different experience to learn and study.Liked it liked it.I am following this link too http://preply.com/en/german-by-skype

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