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Floris Students Take Virtual Trip

Sixth Graders Participate in Jason Project at EDS

On a day when the temperature surpassed the 70-degree mark, 120 Floris Elementary School students were wearing gloves — indoors.

Floris Elementary sixth graders visited their corporate mentor EDS (Electronic Data Systems) in Herndon last Thursday, Jan. 31 for the continuation of the Jason XIII Project, in which the students participated, via satellite, in the Frozen Worlds Expedition in Alaska, said William R. "Bill" Ritz, public relations manager with EDS.

In its 13th year, the Jason Project, named for the mythological figure Jason, as in Jason and the Argonauts — began after Dr. Robert "Bob" Ballard found the wreckage of the Titanic in the late 1980s.

Ballard developed a real time "field trip" that is interactive for students, said Ritz. "The goal is to turn students on to careers in science and technology. Ballard asked EDS to provide the technology — that's our bread and butter. We are the principal technology partner for the Jason Expedition," he said.

"It was really cool — how they took apart the harbor seal skull," said sixth grader Priya Balasubramanian, 11, of Herndon. "They also found out how old the trees are by counting the rings," she said.

"It was just neat how they found out about the history of Alaska by taking small things and sending them to the lab for DNA data," said sixth grader Hannah Cho, 11, of Herndon.

"It was really neat how the beetle cleaned the skulls — they eat the meat off the skulls," said sixth grader Baden Caspari, 12, of Herndon.

"I liked the part with the video camera with the seal — you could see what the seals did without the people," said sixth grader Chris Kurland, 12, of Herndon.

<mh>Matches Curriculum

<bt>"Floris has done the Jason Project 13 times," said sixth grade mathematics and science teacher Alice Allnutt of Sterling. The curriculum is a 250-page document focusing on science and geography with attention to math and cultural histories. "It excites kids about science. It fits great into the curriculum," said the 17-year Floris veteran.

"I want to study anatomy — the human body, or space," said Balasubramanian.

"I like doing chemistry experiments and I want to study anatomy," said Cho.

"For a career, I like underwater things — like seals and exotic fish. I might like a fish for a pet," said Caspari, interested in marine biology.

"I want to study sharks and be a paleontologist," said Kurland.

Following the video expedition with Ballard in Alaska, the Floris students reconvened in an open space at EDS where 25 art works by the students were hanging on the wall. An art contest was built into the curriculum with a Frozen Worlds theme sponsored by EDS. EDS selected three pieces of the art as the award winners.

<mh>Winners

<bt>Ironically, none of the three winners claimed an interest in a career in the sciences.

"I want to be an actress and a singer," said sixth grader Lexi Zadak, 11, of Herndon.

"I want to be an artist," said sixth grader Amanda Carter, 11, of Herndon.

"I want to be the first female president," said sixth grader Juhee Jain, 11, of Herndon.

"They did an incredible job visualizing the frozen world after studying it in their science unit," said seven-year Floris art teacher Joan Hussey of Reston.

By being at EDS last Thursday, the Floris students were able to participate in the live broadcast from Alaska led by Ballard. The gloves gave them a sense of being in Alaska. At the end of the program the students left the gloves at EDS and they were donated to the Embry Rucker Shelter in Reston in the name of the Floris Elementary sixth grade students.