Originally published in MOREnetworking Vol. 2 No. 8, Jan. 2007
What do you get when you put 10 fourth-graders in a room with three high school students, several teachers, the school superintendent, some video equipment and the U.S. Constitution? You get a once-in-a-lifetime history lesson shared with students from across the country.
On Sept. 15, 2006, 42 schools from around the country joined a videoconference sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Gigapop in Philadelphia for Internet2 (MAGPI) to read the Constitution. Missouri’s representative to the videoconference was the Odessa R-VII school district, which chose three high school students to read short parts of the constitution. The event, called “America Reads the Constitution,” used high-quality videoconferencing technology over Internet2 to connect the participating schools. MAGPI also provided a live stream. The event was part of National Constitution Day.
Sandra Sloan, Odessa R-VII Schools Superintendent, noted that often young people “only have a sense of patriotism or national unity from things like 9/11 or other national tragedies. Events like this help foster patriotism in the younger generation.”
Selected based on their scores on the previous year’s Constitution test, Odessa high school students Rachel Brown and Kendall Shackles, both seniors, and Jacob Pennington, a junior, read two parts of the Constitution as Odessa students gathered in the gymnasium to watch the event stream. After the reading, several schools stayed on the videoconference to engage in a question and answer session. Questions ranged from quiz-like questions about the Constitution to questions about specific locations participating in the event. Hutchinson Institute of Technology in Fairbanks, Alaska, was of particular interest to several different groups of students.
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