By VIRGINIA SORKIN
Where are the monarch butterflies, peregrine falcons, loons, sea turtles and bats? Are the tulips up and is the dogwood in bloom? Is the grass greening and the snow finally gone?
On April 25, the Library of Congress was the place to find spring and its migrating creatures. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 20 Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Honor Roll teachers went online to add their data to track spring's progress during the first "Science Online at the Library." The teachers' search for spring took place under the watchful eyes of a live baby great horned owl and a gyrfalcon.
The event, sponsored by the ASTC and the Library of Congress, was held in the Library's Digital Library Visitors' Center. During the day, teachers went online with "Journey North" and the "Science Learning Network," two Internet-based science programs reaching out to teachers and students.
Through "Journey North," the teachers added their hometown observations of the status of spring and its migrating animals. "Pilot teachers" Sharon Prick and James Epperly, from the Science Museum of Minnesota, guided the voyagers. ("Journey North" is located at http://www.learner.org/jnorth/.).
The teachers also experienced one of the nation's most advanced learning tools, the Science Learning Network (SLN). SLN is a partnership of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, the Exploratorium of San Francisco, the Miami Museum of Science; the Museum of Science in Boston, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul and Unisys Corp. The SLN includes an index of online science, math and technology resources, and creates links between information resources.
For example, a teacher researching astronomy for sixth graders could discover a hands-on lesson on how to make a telescope post, courtesy of the Franklin Institute's World Wide Web server. By clicking on a highlighted word, the teacher can also obtain information explaining how students can sign up for an opportunity to use the giant telescope on Mount Wilson in California. (The SLN is located at http://www.sln.org.)
The teachers who participated in "Science Online at the Library" are among 55 outstanding teachers from 25 states and 11 countries named to the ASTC Honor Roll of Teachers for 1996. Since 1984, as part of its celebration of National Science and Technology Week, ASTC has recognized teachers who go above and beyond the normal requirements of their school curriculum and who use the resources of their local science centers to stimulate their students' interest in science and technology.
Dennis Wint, president of ASTC, explained what made the ASTC Honor Roll-Library of Congress event important: "On-line programs developed by science centers as represented by "Journey North" and the "Science Learning Network" are revolutionizing science learning. This event demonstrates how these electronic tools can be used in partnership with dedicated professionals to enhance their teaching and to demonstrate science's potential to their students."
In addition to the online activities, the honorees met with members of Congress, toured the U.S. Botanic Garden, visited the National Zoo and attended a luncheon sponsored by USA Today.
The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) is a nonprofit organization of about 400 science museums in 36 countries that attract more than 100 million visitors a year. Science museums feature interactive exhibits, hands-on science experience for children and education programs for teachers. In addition, the centers serve as local resources for teachers, schools, families and community groups. A list of science centers is available by writing ASTC, 1025 Vermont Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20005.
Virginia Sorkin is in the National Digital Library Program.