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Media Advisory

Not for publication

Oct. 19, 2004 -- No. 506

New center to boost learning opportunities
for students, educators in N.C. and beyond

Wednesday, Oct. 20
Media tour, 3:45 p.m.; speakers, 4:15 p.m.
Carolina Center for Educational Excellence
R.D. and Euzelle Smith Middle School
9201 Seawell School Road, Chapel Hill

Note: Please do not arrive until 3:35 p.m., when most buses will have left.

The School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will celebrate the opening of the Carolina Center for Educational Excellence, a $1.2 million, 7,300 square-foot addition to R.D. and Euzelle P. Smith Middle School and partnership between the UNC school and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

At the center, school children will be able to participate, via advanced communications technologies, in worldwide learning experiences. Professional development, support and retention programs for preschool-grade12 teachers and administrators can be conducted as well as beamed throughout the state and beyond. Teachers in training at the UNC school can enter real school settings virtually. UNC education faculty members can share, easily and widely, research results on promising new teaching techniques; they can collaborate with and respond to the needs of school teachers and administrators.

Media are invited to tour the building at 3:45 p.m. and cover remarks at 4:15 p.m. Speakers will be State Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee, UNC Chancellor James Moeser, School of Education Dean Tom James and Superintendent of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Neil Pedersen. The Smiths, longtime local educators, expect to attend and tour the addition to their namesake school.

Moeser’s visit will be part of his ongoing "Carolina Connects" initiative to visit each region of the state, highlighting the many ways in which UNC serves North Carolinians and their communities.

Advanced capabilities in the center’s three classrooms include giant plasma screen monitors and high-speed access to the World Wide Web. Videoconferencing will be demonstrated. The center also includes a fully equipped mathematics and science teaching laboratory funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

In the lab, synthetic DNA will be visible within squares of cobalt blue gel mounted on light boxes. Assistant professor of science education Dr. William Veal, head of the lab, and his UNC students – who are training to become secondary school science teachers -- will describe how teachers can use equipment and technology in the lab to help K-12 students understand DNA and DNA fingerprinting.

Air-track technology, among recent advances in public transportation, will be demonstrated, with small gliders skimming over a tabletop track, refusing to leave that path even when pushed. Views of samples under microscopes will be projected onto large screens. Tabletop topographic maps of the Chapel Hill area will be flanked by computers displaying corresponding Web-based maps and satellite images, demonstrating new approaches to science teaching and learning.

From Chapel Hill, go north on Airport Road, turn left onto Estes Drive Extension. At the first stoplight, turn right onto Seawell School Road. Go 1.5 miles, past the first entrance to Smith on the left, and take the next driveway to Smith, on the left.

From Raleigh, take I-40 west to exit 266, N.C. 86; turn left at top of ramp. Go 1.7 miles, as N.C. 86 becomes Airport Road. Turn right at stoplight onto Homestead Road. Go straight one mile. At the first stoplight, turn left onto Seawell School Road. Go one mile, past the drive to Chapel Hill High School on the right. Turn right into the next drive, for Smith Middle School.

Media parking: Go straight on the Smith driveway; do not take turn-offs to the left. At the end, the drive bears left in a U-turn at the school entrance. Continue past the entrance, then turn right into the next driveway and park in front of the center.

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School of Education contacts: Linda Baucom, 962-8687, lbaucom@unc.edu; on site, Neil Shipman, 962-4106, shipmann@email.unc.edu

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools contact: Robin Nucilli, 967-8211, ext. 214

News Services contacts: L.J. Toler, 962-8589; on site, Lisa Katz, cell 638-0474