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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          NEWS SERVICES
210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279


For immediate use

May 5, 2004 -- No. 247

Chapel Hill students chosen to speak
in live worldwide videoconference

Thursday (May 6), 9-11 a.m. and noon-2 p.m.

R.D. and Euzelle P. Smith Middle School wing:
Carolina Center for Educational Excellence,
UNC School of Education
9201 Seawell School Road, off Homestead Road, Chapel Hill

Students from two Chapel Hill schools will participate in the first advanced videoconference for elementary, middle and high schools, shared live at more than 150 schools worldwide via Internet2. Translators will work at each site, in Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Iran, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Turkey and the United States.

The Chapel Hill students, from Phillips and Smith middle schools, will participate at the Carolina Center for Educational Excellence, a wing of Smith operated by the University of North Carolina School of Education. The event, Megaconference Jr., was open to any school. But only 25 schools were chosen to make presentations, including Phillips and Smith. A Megaconference committee chose the 25 from among 90 that applied.

The event is part of a project called Megaconference, based at Ohio State University and including information technology professionals worldwide who specialize in advanced video and Internet technologies. Among them are technologists with companies that manufacture advanced videoconferencing equipment and with universities that have Internet2, including Carolina. Internet2 is a second-generation, non-commercial Internet for research and education.

Thursday will mark Megaconferenceís sixth event and the first for school students instead of adults. To participate, a school must have sponsorship by a university with Internet2, including Carolina. The UNC School of Education is sponsoring the local schools.

At the local center, students in three rooms will watch 50-inch, high-definition monitors. When a participant speaks, he or she will be displayed on an inset. Students will be identified by name placards on their desks, self introductions and school banners behind them.

Media representatives are invited to cover the conference. Local presentations are expected to be at 10:05 a.m. and 1:20 p.m.:

"Commonality, Connection and Conversation Across the Continents," 10:05-10:20 a.m., 10 eighth-graders from Smith, on ways of life, ways to have fun and serious challenges in the world today. Sponsoring teachers at Smith are Robin McMahon (French) and Carol Horne (philosophy; technology specialist). Smith students and a teacher will translate the presentation into French, German, Hindi-Urdu, Russian and Spanish if desired by other groups participating.

"Cover the World with Love," 1:20-1:30 p.m., a choral performance by 25 students from Phillips, with a Spanish lullaby, an African-American spiritual and a popular song about world harmony. Sponsors: Phillips technology specialist Susan Prillaman, choral director Roberta Poe.

New UNC School of Education Dean Tom James, who came to Carolina last November, will observe the event from 10-11 a.m. Next week James will be on UNCís Tar Heel Bus Tour, on which faculty and administrators new to North Carolina learn about the state. That trip and other visits James plans to public schools in coming months will help guide the UNC education schoolís efforts to serve schools across North Carolina.

The School of Educationís center, a wing of Smith, houses efforts to educate pre-service teachers across the region and support and develop teachers across the state. It also is home to distance education programs through which UNC faculty members work with teachers, administrators and school service personnel. Opened last month, the center also includes advanced technology for communication between the UNC school and its public school colleagues.

Directions, parking: From Raleigh, take I-40 to N.C. 86, exit 266. Turn left toward Chapel Hill. Continue on N.C. 86, which becomes Airport Road, for 1.7 miles. Turn right onto Homestead Road at the sixth traffic light. Go straight for one mile. At the first traffic light, turn left onto Seawell School Road. Go straight for a half mile. Turn right at the first entrance to Smith, before the school building, at the sign for R.D. and Euzelle P. Smith Middle School. Enter the parking lot on the north side of school (near the basketball goals), where broadcasters with heavy equipment should unload.

Free parking will be available on a first-come, first-served basis in the lot on the north side of the school. Free parking also will be available in the lot south of the school.

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Contacts: Kim Hoke, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, 967-8211,; Linda Baucom, UNC School of Education, (919) 962-8687;

Contact on site: Lori Young, (919) 843-5458.