11th ANNUAL WATER FESTIVAL AT GADSDEN STATE
More than 1,300 fourth grade students from Etowah County schools will be attending the eleventh annual Etowah County Water Festival on Gadsden State Community College’s Wallace Drive Campus December 16.
The goal of the festival is to teach students about the value of water and the importance of preserving and protecting it.
The Water Festival is co-sponsored by Gadsden State, the City of Gadsden, Gadsden Water Works and Sewer Board, Keep Etowah Beautiful, Inc., Etowah County Soil and Water Conservation District and other community members. Students from Etowah, Gadsden City, Hokes Bluff and Southside high schools will instruct the students, aided by Dr. Hugh Hammer, Gadsden State aquaculture instructor, local professionals, and Gadsden State students. More than 150 volunteers will be involved in this event.
The students will attend three “hands-on” sessions aimed at making them more familiar with water and its challenges. During the first session students will make bracelets with each bead representing one phase of the water cycle. Sarah Butterworth, Middle Coosa Watershed project coordinator, said that the second session on the edible aquifer tends to be a student favorite and most delicious of the three since they eat their project at the end of the experiment. In this session, students will make a cross section of soil and ground water where the ground water is made of Sprite and the layers of soil made of ice cream, sprinkles and gummy fish. The students then stick a straw into the soil all the way to the ground water and let the straw serve as a well while the student’s mouth serves as a pump. The third session is a class on filtration and deals with pollution using materials such as vinegar, oil, soil, and confetti. The students begin with clean water, add the materials to show how pollution occurs then try to filter out the impurities. The festival concludes with a visit from the “Fishin’ Magician” and his “Eco-Magic Show” at Wallace Hall Auditorium.
“The volunteer high school instructors for the festival were fourth graders who attended eight years ago, and they have served as instructors for the past three years,” said Hammer. In addition, many of Hammer’s students currently studying aquaculture participated in this program when they were in the fourth grade, and will also be teaching at this year’s event.
Over 15,000 students have attended the Water Festival since its inception. The Water Festival is a part of Water Quality Awareness Week in Gadsden. For more information, contact Dr. Hugh Hammer at 256-549-8345 or email@example.com.
NDLW ESSAY CONTEST WINNERS ANNOUNCED
Christopher Simmons of Gadsden has been named the winner of the National Distance Learning Week Student Essay Contest sponsored by the Gadsden State Community College Office of eLearning.
Simmons winning essay was entitled “The Future of Learning Looks Virtual” and may be viewed below . Ben Brown of Munford placed second. For more information about eLearning contact Sara Brenizer at 256-439-6833 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Future of Learning Looks Virtual by Christopher Simmons
Envision a learning environment that uses emerging technologies in virtual reality, making the necessity of a physical environment obsolete. Students are present in the classroom as holographic avatars, and teachers are interactive super computers programmed with all current knowledge. Students conduct virtual experiments, perform personal and collaborative virtual tasks associated with scenarios in their chosen fields, and have as much access to teachers and material as needed to develop proficiencies in any given subject.
Imagine the cost advantages that such a virtual learning environment would provide. The cost of education would be reduced significantly due to the drop in overhead associated with constructing and maintaining physical learning environments, making the best education available to all. Students would no longer incur the costs associated with traveling to and from campus. All texts and reference materials would be a virtual fingertip away, providing students easy access to any tools they need to excel.
The social climate of the classroom would be forever enhanced, blurring lines between groups and minorities, creating a learning environment where emphasis is placed on mental development without the distraction of the physical. Students of varying ethnic and social backgrounds could work together on virtual projects. The student-teacher ratio would drop to a convenient 1:1, since an electronic teacher does not need to eat, sleep, or spend time with family.
Positive effects on the biological environment would be evident in this type of future, making the consumption of physical resources an unnecessary factor. Virtual students could perform digital dissections without the use of actual cadavers or animals, or conduct chemical experiments without the risk of exposure to dangerous substances. Students could get “hands-on” experience in electrical technology, complete with mock electrical shocks if a mistake is made, without any real risk of physical harm.
The future where this type of learning environment exists may not be as far away as it may seem. The United States Army is in the process of having this very type of virtual learning environment developed to train soldiers for combat. This “fully immersive” training technology is set to make its debut in January of 2012.
A virtual learning environment would make education more accessible, more efficient, and more effective. It would create an environment more conducive to learning, producing individuals better educated and geared to perform well in their chosen professions. The future of learning looks virtual and bright.