Thursday, December 15, 2016

Game On! EdTechTeam Adventures

Eminence, Kentucky is a small, rural school district about halfway between Lexington and Louisville.  It’s small, about 2500 people live there altogether.  It’s also where I teach 5th grade.  

So when I was given the opportunity to travel almost 3000 miles North to Yellowknife for a EdTechTeam Summit (in the Northwest Territories of Canada), I jumped at it.  I figured it would be a great learning experience.

After squaring away my ticket, I learned that EdTechTeam was going to use this Summit to launch a new initiative, EdTechTeam Adventures.  Game on, I thought. We’re going Aurora Borealis Hunting!  

The summit itself was awesome; it’s always amazing to see and learn the unique ways that different educators around the world are using the G-Suite for Education tools in their classroom. After day one of the event, we rented a bus, bundled up (it was about -3ºC), and headed out away from the city of Yellowknife to start the Adventure. I learned that while most people who live above the Arctic Circle see the Aurora all the time during the Fall and Winter months, very few of them know how to photograph it.  

This is why EdTechTeam brought along Martin Male, one of the IT Directors for Yellowknife Education District No.1, and also an avid and well known Aurora photographer ( He was quite an asset!  

Martin spent time with all 25 of the attendees on the Adventure, going over with them some basic principles of photography, especially how to use them to brightly capture the Northern Lights. After spending about an hour or so tirelessly working with the group of educators, Martin asked me if I brought my Theta 360 camera. I had.  

He then showed me how I could photograph the Aurora… in 360!  Check out the image below that I was able to upload to Google Maps:

The Summit concluded the next day, and I headed back to my classroom soon after. I couldn’t wait to show my students some of the photographs that I was able to take on the adventure!  

They were about as blown away as I was. Seeing the Northern Lights was something that I will never forget.  

“What causes the Aurora to appear, Mr. Piercey?”

Charged particles from the Sun hitting the atmosphere.

“Why can’t we see it in Kentucky?”

We learned it occasionally drifts this far South

“Is it really that green?”

The camera makes it appear that green, it actually is a whole assortment of color.

“Did it move?”
It dances!
And my personal favorite:

“Do astronauts in outer space ever see the Aurora?”

This last one led to an in-class Youtube search and we discovered 1. Yes, they do and 2. It’s amazing:

I never thought that a little trip up North could have such a transformative nature on my students, but it had.  My EdTechTeam adventure had turned into a shared classroom experience.  I’m really looking forward to the next one!

The next Adventure is in Iceland Jan. 13th-16th coupled with the Iceland Summit. Global educators encouraged to join!

Donnie Piercey
Google Certified Innovator
5th Grade Teacher
Tech Integrator
Eminence, KY Schools

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