LIVING SCHOOLBOOK PROJECT EXPLORES THE WILDLIFE AROUND ONONDAGA LAKE
One hand-drawn duck paddles toward another in an Onondaga Lake marsh. The lovebirds meet and swim off into a computer-screen horizon. The viewer then clicks on "main page" and finds an educational web page that reads: "Onondaga Lake. Imagine the possibilities...."
The animated ducks are just one of the creations developed by a Living SchoolBook (LSB) team, when it took on the Onondaga Lake Wildlife-Habitat Awareness Project (http://lsb.syr.edu/projects/onondagalake). The project includes a web site, a CD-ROM, and an informational touch-screen kiosk featuring authentic sound bites, photographs, and video. Its goal is to educate viewerswhether they're enthusiastic children, interested Syracusans, or teachersabout the topic as they move from one web page to the next. The Onondaga Lake initiative also has a real community purpose, says LSB project director Barbara Shelly. "After people see this CD, they want to know how to get to the lake," she says.
As a dynamic, collaborative, electronic learning community, LSB incorporates teamwork into projects that use the latest technological developments. Now in its fifth year, LSB uses digitized audio and video, research and inquiry, videoconferencing, and graphic design to create collaborative projects with K-12 teachers and students. Most importantly, the program links K-12 schools with SU resources, and connects people with information through technology.
The Onondaga Lake project began when the Onondaga County Health Department Division of Environmental Health approached LSB about creating an interactive CD-ROM that would provide positive information about Onondaga Lake, which is known as one of the country's most polluted. The purpose was to correct people's misperceptions about the lake. LSB teamed SU and SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry students with seventh- and eighth-graders from Syracuse's Grant Middle School, and county parks department and environmental health division employees. "I found it rewarding to participate in something that dealt both with new media and Onondaga Lake," says team member Karen O'Keefe G'98, who completed a master's degree in science education last December.
The Onondaga Lake project is one of several successful projects launched by LSB. The Cyberzoo web site (http://lsb.syr.edu/projects/cyberzoo) links animals to ecological communities such as grasslands and rain forests, and connects seventh-grade life science students to LSB technology. The Postcards of Central New York Project (http://lsb.syr.edu/projects/postcards) digitizes and organizes hundreds of historical postcards from the Onondaga County Public Library collection and puts them online for educational use.
To continue its efforts, LSB plans to build a robust consortium with other organizations, which will enable it to gain additional funding. "With a large consortium, we can expand into different cities and link these organizations with their own areas," Shelly says.
ASME CHAPTER CARRIES ON PROUD TRADITION WITH AWARD-WINNING ACTIVITIES
A Link Hall trophy case teems with plaques awarded to one of Syracuse University's most successful professional societiesthe SU student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The awards recognize its achievements in engineering design, research, and Internet home-page design competitions. But the honor that brings the most pride to ASME is the one its members are on a mission to protect.
For the past six years, the SU group, which has about 50 active members, has won the ASME Allied-Signal award for best chapter in the 43-school Northeastern region. This spring, members are working hard to add a seventh straight award to the trophy case, and have their sights set on the first-ever national title competition. "It's great to be part of something that's so highly recognized," says society chair Michelle Hurler, a senior mechanical engineering major.
Hurler, an active ASME member since her freshman year, is thrilled to be part of a group with a reputation for community service and professional development. Last fall, for example, ASME members helped the Salvation Army with its food drive at the Carrier Dome and assisted Habitat for Humanity with a fund-raiser.
To learn about developments in mechanical engineering, the chapter hosts lectures, and members go on field trips, and attend conferences. At chapter meetings, members plan service projects and activities with other campus organizations, and discuss ways to strengthen the group's identity on campus and within the profession. "The level of involvement by these students and the sense of pride they get from it is really tremendous," says Professor Eric Spina, who heads the Engineering and Computer Science Division that includes the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Manufacturing Engineering. "We tell prospective students that the number-one reason to study engineering at SU is the outstanding students and their strong involvement in activities like this."
One way the department promotes involvement is by offering to pay for students' first-year membership in an engineering society of their choice. "This puts our students in contact with students at other schools, exposes them to other campuses and faculty, and introduces them to working engineers," says ASME advisor Frederick Carranti.
Such activities are important for the students. "They serve as a catalyst for the understanding and advancement of engineers," Spina says. "For me, the most beneficial part is not the award, but watching them do what they do to get it."
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