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Field trips go electronic

Sixth-grade students watch horse trot treadmill as they experience live virtual fieldtrip with Purdue University's zipTrips program held Warren Elementary

Sixth-grade students watch a horse trot on a treadmill as they experience a live, virtual fieldtrip with Purdue University's zipTrips program held at Warren Elementary School in Highland, Ind. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times

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For more information about Purdue University’s zipTrips, visit www.agriculture.purdue.edu/ziptrips.

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Updated: November 11, 2011 4:56PM



Warren Elementary School students usually aren’t allowed to eat food during class sessions. But a recent “in-house field trip” found the Highland sixth-graders biting into apples, with the approval of their teachers and school principal.

The occasion was a zipTrips program called “We are all Animals” offered by students at Purdue University in West Lafayette.

Purdue host Jessica Martin and others communicated with the Warren students using a teleconferencing system. The sixth-graders prepared by studying the importance of scientific inquiry.

“Purdue provides lesson plans regarding the four body systems. These plans are very interactive, and help students use the scientific inquiry process,” said sixth-grade science teacher Amanda Schocke. “We also watched some short videos that Purdue provided, which introduced the students to the scientists at Purdue.”

Other schools participated in the program, but did not have the opportunity to communicate directly with the Purdue students.

Jamie Loizzo, video producer of the zipTrips, emailed the schools that had signed up for the broadcast and asked for a school with the technological capabilities to volunteer to interact with the Purdue students, according to Principal J.J. Boylan.

“I replied to her email within 30 seconds of reading it,” he said. “I knew that we had the technology, and being a science teacher previously, I didn’t want to pass up this great opportunity.”

Schocke agreed.

“I thought it looked like an excellent opportunity for my students,” Schocke said. “I used to be a biology teaching assistant at Purdue, so I was very excited.”

Similarities between animals and humans were the focus of the day’s lesson.

“Humans and some animals seem to have similarities on the outside, but many also have some on the inside,” Martin said. The similarities can help to diagnose and treat certain illnesses and injuries, she added.

Watching a horse on a treadmill gave the youngsters an insight into that animal’s anatomy.

“Horses are meant to run, and when they aren’t doing well in a show or in a race, the treadmill is a good diagnostic tool, as we watch their form,” Martin said. “It’s also a good research tool and teaching tool.”

She said horses’ bones are similar to human hand and wrist bones.

“Although they have much heavier weights and a very strong heart — 8- to 10-fold compared to us — horses and humans have a lot of things in common, more than you think.”

Student Joseph Salazar, 11, said the horse information was the most interesting part of the session.

“It’s amazing, I didn’t know how fast they could run. They said about 85 miles an hour,” the youngster said. “That’s faster than any human being.”

The first interaction task came when the students bit into an apple as those on the screen were showing the way animals and humans bite into their food. Herbivores and carnivores were discussed.

A tour of a heart lab was part of the program. Both the inside and the outside of a heart were shown.

“By studying anatomy, we understand how humans function and can compare similarities and species that you can see,” Martin said.



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