Eureka Springs EAST Lab Selected By JFMF to Partner with Japanese School

   

Eureka Springs EAST Lab Selected By JFMF to Partner with Japanese School
8/12/2013 4:31:56 PM

The Eureka Springs High School, specifically its EAST Lab, has been selected to participate in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Master Teacher Program (MTP), an action research program exploring the ways in which electronic communications, particularly Internet-based activities, can enhance and expand the impact of teacher exchanges.

 

The Eureka Springs High School, specifically its EAST Lab, has been selected to participate in the Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Master Teacher Program (MTP), an action research program exploring the ways in which electronic communications, particularly Internet-based activities, can enhance and expand the impact of teacher exchanges.

Past Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund participants from the United States and Japan were invited to organize school teams to participate in an inquiry-based education process that combines exchange visits with the use of information technology to carry out ongoing environmental education activities. Ten American and ten Japanese schools were selected. The Eureka Springs High School Team is made up of High School Principal David Childers, Technology Coordinator Donnie Lee (Distance Learning Coordinator of the Ozarks Unlimited Resources Educational Services Cooperative) and EAST Lab Facilitator Mila Lynne Floro-Powell (who participated in the JFMF Teacher Program last October 2006). Eureka Springs' Japanese partner school is Wakayama Prefectural Kainan High School.

The Master Teacher Program incorporates a short-term exchange visit of Japanese teachers to the United States and a visit of American teachers to their partner schools in Japan. Teachers in each group are organized as national teams representing different parts of the country. The two groups undergo joint orientations to help build a sense of being part of a bi-national team. The Master Teacher Program's objectives are: 1) expand and enhance the scope of global exploration and communication among primary and secondary school students in Japan and U.S.; 2) encourage increased interaction with and understanding of the natural environment among students in the United States and Japan; 3) increase opportunities to utilize technology in education so as to encourage on-line information exchanges between Japanese and American schools; 4) increase understanding of different educational methods through Japanese and U.S. teachers meeting and working together in each others' schools; and, 5) develop a sustainable relationship between partner schools in Japan and U.S.

"Our EAST Lab students will work collaboratively with students from Wakayama Prefectural Kainan High School on 2 environmental projects, for an entire school year (2007-2008). We will have monthly video conferencing meetings so our American and Japanese students will interact, share and learn from each other. For my students in our small Arkansas town, this global experience will be such a wonderful opportunity and exciting adventure. We look forward to our Japanese teachers' visit to Eureka Springs in March. I am pleased to note that even though our Japanese guests will be here during Spring Break when school is closed, a good number of my EAST students have volunteered to come to school and meet with them. I am thrilled to be able to live in Japan for 3 weeks during the summer near our Japanese partner school and possibly co-teach a class. I am also required to undergo 4 months of online language classes to be comparatively fluent in Japanese for the summer trip, "Mrs. Floro-Powell explained. Born in the Philippines, Mrs. Floro-Powell further added, "I was amused to note that our partner school is in Kainan, which is also a Filipino word which means "food". Since Kainan is a Japanese seaport, I eagerly look forward to fresh seafood during my stay."

The MTP provides stipends to cover a $1,000 research allowance for the EAST Lab to purchase needed equipment and supplies for the 2 environmental projects they have to complete with their Japanese partner school, the Japanese teachers' trip to the United States, and Mrs. Floro-Powell's travel, housing and living expenses during her 3-week residence in Japan.

The Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund, based in Tokyo, oversees all aspects of the Master Teacher Program. The Program is sponsored by the Government of Japan and was launched in 1997 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. government Fulbright Program, which has enabled more than 6,000 Japanese citizens to study in the U.S. on Fulbright fellowships for graduate education and research. The Japan-US Educational Commission (JUESC) is the organization responsible for the design and administration of the JFMF program. It continues a valued traditional of dialogue and exchange between the United States and Japan.

The EAST Lab is an elective high school class that encourages students to use high-end technologies to solve community problems. Mrs. Floro-Powell took over the EAST Program at the Eureka Springs High School in 2001. In the last 6 years, her EAST students have served the Eureka Springs and neighboring communities with mapping and video projects like county-wide emergency evacuation landing zones, 911 identification, fire hydrants, historic cemetery, Historic District, Harmon Park and a high school butterfly garden. In addition, the EAST Lab coordinated community efforts to establish the Carroll County Community Technology Center that offers free computer classes to county residents. In 2004, the EAST Lab won the first EAST Initiative's Founder's Award, given to the EAST Lab that exemplified excellence in Community Service, Collaboration, and the Integration of Technology. In 2005, the EAST Lab became the only Arkansas team that won a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams grant that involves the design and creation of an innovative blood pressure monitoring wristband device for youth at risk for high blood pressure.

Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund (JFMF) Teacher Program participant and EAST Lab facilitator Mila Lynne Floro-Powell shares experiences and information about Japan with members of the Eureka Professional Women's group. Floro-Powell was one of 200 American teachers who spent 3 weeks in Japan as part of the JFMF Teacher Program's effort to promote greater intercultural understanding between the United States and Japan. Moving on to the next level in international cooperation, the Eureka Springs High School EAST Lab will participate in the JFMF Master Teacher Program and collaboratively work on 2 environmental projects with students from a Japanese high school, Wakayama Prefectural Kainan High School, during the 2007-2008 school year.

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