Students Discuss the Constitution with President Washington
On Thursday, February 20, 2012, General George Washington addressed approximately 850 grade school children in “New Spain,” more commonly known today as Texas. Washington, portrayed by interpreter Dean Malissa, spoke to the students from his 1777-1778 winter encampment at Valley Forge National Historic Park in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania via high definition interactive video conferencing.
The virtual field trip video conference program entitled “George to George: Presidential Leadership – Celebrate Presidents Day” also connected students to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum in College Station, Texas with the Valley Forge National Historical Park. The discussions centered on the traits of Presidential leadership as illustrated by primary source documents from the first and forty-first Presidential administrations (i.e., recordings of telephone conversations and personal correspondence between President Bush, Margaret Thatcher, and Helmut Kohl).
This event is related to a larger Presidential Primary Sources Project (PPSP) sponsored by the Internet2 K20 Initiative, U.S. Presidential Libraries and Museums, National Park Service, and other primary source stakeholders. The goal of the annual project is to engage classrooms throughout the national and international education community with an overarching theme, utilizing primary source documents for student research and presentation. This year’s program focuses on the role of Presidential administrations in encouraging the spread of global democracy.
Students from all over the country participated in the project this year, ranging from Cambridge Jr./Sr. High School in rural Idaho (connected to Internet2 via Idaho Education Network, ENA, and IRON), to Del Valle High School located near Austin, Texas (connected to Internet2 via the Texas Education Telecommunications Network (TETN). These virtual field trips allow students to interact with experts and experience places they otherwise may not have an opportunity to visit in person.
State and regional research and education networks and Internet2 contributed the necessary technical expertise and infrastructure to help enable students to connect seamlessly with each other and content experts from the participating National Park sites and Presidential Libraries.