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Steven W. Moore, Ph.D.
Division of Science and Environmental Policy, California State University, Monterey Bay
"Engaging Students in Video Technology Deployment and Experimental Design to Study Animals in the Wild" Category: Conservation of Animal Resources, Education: 2005
Television and the Internet have dramatically increased public awareness of the wonderful diversity and interdependence of life on this planet and have played an obvious and important role in educating millions about the importance of environmental conservation. However, these same technologies may be undermining the long-term commitment of society to conservation as children are spending more time in front of the television or computer rather than developing a close relationship with nature through physical experience. During this study, Dr. Moore plans to bring middle- and high-school students up to date on the latest in wireless video and Internet technology while getting them outdoors and giving them a fun, safe way to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level with wildlife near their homes and schools. Students will design and conduct experiments in which they will use technology by positioning solar powered web cameras, infrared lights, long-range wireless Internet access equipment, and web-linked motion sensors outside in natural settings to answer their own questions about wildlife. This experience may strengthen their involvement and commitment to environmental preservation.
This Lindbergh/Fried Grant in Conservation and Education has been sponsored by Albert Fried, Jr.
Lessons from Elkhorn Slough
A group of 5th graders from Highlands Elementary School in Seaside Calif., went to Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve in April 2009. These students of nature were from the first school to deploy brand new, solar-powered, wireless, network camera stations designed and built by Dr. Moore with funding from the Lindbergh Foundation.
The kids shouldered heavy batteries, solar panels, cameras, and cables and tromped out toward the woods. After examining several sites, one group of children elected to place their camera near a small freshwater spring to see what would stop by to take a drink.
Back at school, children and teachers use the Internet to view live or recorded images from the cameras. From those first images, students learned that crows are the most frequent visitors to the spring. They drink, bathe, and socialize there several times each hour. Other visitors included a Spotted Towhee, a Red-Shouldered Hawk and a Barn Owl. The highlight for the children, however, was the pair of deer that showed up 10 days later.
Each camera station is battery powered for 24-hour operation by a solar panel, which recharges the batteries during daylight hours. A small, embedded computer and a wireless router relays the video images to a remote base station and permits remote monitoring of the battery status, solar charging, and other “vital signs.”
In the coming months, Dr. Moore plans to upgrade the Internet connection, and establish a 3.5-mile, broadband, wireless connection between the Slough and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. This would allow real-time viewing of streaming video. In addition, Dr. Moore is working on waterproofing one or two cameras to allow underwater viewing. The waterproofed cameras could be used in one of the springs or in the brackish waters of the Slough where Leopard Sharks are known to congregate.