Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the chance to live in Wyoming—especially in a town that’s only fifty miles from Yellowstone National Park’s East Gate. Our own backyard is home to vast mountain ranges, bubbling hot springs, raging rivers, and hundreds of plant and animal species. Growing up in Cody, I was lucky enough to have many hands-on learning experiences—inside and outside of the classroom—about the ways of the West. Whether it was a class fieldtrip to the Center of the West or a bus ride to Yellowstone, educators constantly worked to further build their students’ connection to the American West.
But when it’s too far to drive for a class fieldtrip to the Center, or Yellowstone National Park isn’t a quick car ride away, that’s where the Center’s program, Skype in the Classroom, comes in. With this program, educators at the Center bring the museum to students all around the world!
There are four Skype lessons to choose from: Do You See Me Like I See Me?: Cultural Perspectives in Western American Art, Amazing Animal Adaptations, The Stories and Culture of Plains Indians and Buffalo, and Trappers, Traders, and Trailblazers. Each lesson has a unique way of helping students of all ages make their own special connection to the American West. Additionally, educators at the Center have already reached over 30,000 students in the United States.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit in on an Amazing Animal Adaptation Skype session with the Center’s Education Web Content Creator/Outreach Educator, George Miller. I watched as he Skyped a girl and her mother in Illinois. At the beginning of the lesson, the girl was relatively hesitant to speak, but by the end of the lesson she was eager to ask plenty of questions about the various animal species of Yellowstone. I followed as George took her on a tour around the Draper Natural History Museum with an iPad. She even requested that he zoom in on the wolves, so she could snap a few pictures of her own.
The educators at the Center have already connected with students in Europe, Australia, Asia, and many other places! This program gives thousands of students the chance to learn about a beautiful place many of us are lucky enough to call home. To learn more about Skype in the Classroom, check out the website https://education.microsoft.com/skypeintheclassroom