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Scaling 4K Telemicroscopy

Chattanooga has been working with Nokia over the last eight months to establish a network of 4K content streams, starting with the Alligator Bayou and Secret Reef habitats, as well as the Jellies: Living Art exhibit, at the Tennessee Aquarium. These streams were primarily developed as a pilot for “investigating the efficacy of real-time streaming ultra high definition for marketing purposes.” Which is to say, it turns out things - any things, and especially living things - look really good in 4K. So good that you might go visit a place just from seeing it.

But what might this ability to move, if not mountains, then their weight in water - to any school in the city mean? How much more deeply might a classroom engage in studying biological diversity, in aquatic ecology, in evolution when presented not with illustrations and theory, but a window into the world underneath an ocean or atop the bayou?

Educational technology can lag behind the cutting edge, but it doesn’t have to - not in the Gig City. Imagine how that experience, the depth of inquiry and engagement, might change if it could happen not on occasion, but routinely, over a period of weeks, a semester or the school year. If our students are able to say not just, “This is what I read,” but, “This is what I have observed.” What might come of conversations between expert biologist and these students, not exposed once on a field trip, but teeming with questions from their months of exploration.

PEF, with the support of the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund, partnered the Enterprise Center, HCDE, EPB and Nokia to stream 4K video from the Tennessee Aquarium into classrooms at CSAS, East Lake Elementary and Red Bank Elementary. Classroom teachers - namely Masey Stubblefield (RBES) and Kristin Burrus (CSAS) - developed open-sourced curriculum, guiding students through formulating research questions, collecting and analyzing data and drawing conclusions.

The 4K microscope has been such a huge success at the STEM School, we’re excited to see the technology applied and grow at the elementary and middle school levels. Following a pilot period this summer, teachers are diving in with their classes this fall, and we’re excited to share updates, lessons and footage as the project grows.

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