Patients of Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California can visit the California redwoods, get up close and personal with elephant seals, and track the 1,000-mile migration of monarch butterflies – without leaving the hospital grounds. These educational experiences – and others like them – are possible thanks to a unique learning program sponsored by the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) uses interactive videoconferencing to introduce kids to many of the state’s natural wonders. The tours take place through a smartboard in the hospital’s schoolroom. The children can speak directly with park rangers who introduce the animals and landscapes that appear on the screen.
“This is a spectacular opportunity for our students,” said Margaret Kugler, coordinator of the hospital’s school program. “Children who are undergoing medical treatment often are unable to travel to these distant places. Thanks to PORTS, our patients are able to see and appreciate some of the state’s most notable landmarks and natural resources.”