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Focusing in on education

A camera crew shot a beach scene, complete with ocean and waves, in a volleyball court near Magnolia apartments on Monday. They will use green screen technology to add water to the shot in post production. The crew, including Richard Gilbert of the USF engineering department, was working on the newest edition of a video series designed to supplement high school math and science curriculums.

“The idea is to connect the everyday with the high-tech,” said Gilbert. “We want students to be interested in school and see the relevance of science and math.”

The program producing these modules is called the High School Technology Initiative and is funded by the National Science Foundation. USF, Hillsborough Community College and area high schools contribute participants. The work is done largely by students, who write the script and the code for the interactive CD-ROM’s and develop PowerPoint presentations to be included in the module.

Each module aims to assist teachers by providing a broad overview of a subject, from what team member Eric Roe called “a 10,000-foot level,” through videos tuned for high school students.

For instance, the second movie in the soon-to-be three-part series teaches about the atom from the perspective of two students en route to a dance. They stop at a red light and, with a bit of humor, end up explaining the function of an LED. Later, one student mentions an injury and the viewer is given an explanation of X-rays. HSTI uses several other devices with which modern students interact daily to provide their lessons: pagers, cell phones and smoke detectors are common.

According to the HSTI Web site, this basic rundown of the subject matter given by the videos gives the teacher an opening to begin a lesson. The modules also contain handouts, lesson plans and quizzes to help continue the learning process. They are interactive so students who enjoy engaging in learning from a computer will stay interested.

The newest module, “Waves and Fields,” is expected to be done in May but won’t be in classrooms until fall. The scene shot on campus, which features a pair of binoculars lying in the sand, will act as a segue for a lesson on optics.

“Problem Solving” and “The Atom” are currently available. For more information, visit .