VIVOTEK Helps Promote Students' Love of Learning at Peterson Middle School
Peterson Middle School, located in VIVOTEK USA's hometown of Sunnyvale California in the heart of Silicon Valley, is located in the Santa Clara Unified School District with an enrollment of around 900 students. What is unique about the school is the 1.8 acre Science Nature Area to teach students at the school and district about the natural world, science, and the environment. Beginning over 20 years ago, Computer and Science Teacher Bryan Osborne supervised an effort beginning with a flat field and constructed hills, dug ponds, cultivated plants, and designed eight biological communities to demonstrate a broad range of biological and ecological principles operating in the world: grassland, pond, swamp, redwood forest, riparian community, deciduous forest, portions of a chaparral community, and a bog.1 With the advent of IP Surveillance technology and a grant from the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, Mr. Osborne is now installing cameras to make it easier for students and educators and observe and study the inhabitants of this preserve.

The first VIVOTEK camera installed at the facility was a PZ7111 located on a small island on the freshwater marsh and can pan, tilt, and zoom to observe all areas of the habitat. Egrets often land in the marsh to hunt for crawfish, ducks may swim in the pond, and squirrels and gophers are also known to make their home in the area.
Recently, at the end of 2009, a 15-foot observation tower, an Eagle Scout project, was finished in the southwestern section of the research facility. Called the Hawk Tower, the elevated platform overlooks a commanding view of the baseball back stop to the south of the Nature Area. Five species of native birds of prey perch on the 30 foot fence to watch for California Ground Squirrels and Fox Tree Squirrels that reside on the Peterson campus. To facilitate the ability to allow other schools within district to share this unique opportunity, a VIVOTEK 18X Speed Dome has been installed on a 21' tall pipe on top of the Hawk Tower. Any student within the district can control the camera and zoom in for easy identification of visiting hawks. At times, the students may even witness the hawks eating their prey on the backstop or the ground below.
As a next step, Mr. Osborne installed a PZ7111 10X PTZ camera placed underwater in the Peterson Pond. After being sealed in a custom-built waterproof dome, this camera was lowered into the pond and kept underwater as long as needed. Ten classrooms at a time will be able view the happenings occurring at any depth in the pond and will be able to observe the spawning rituals of the bluegill bass which inhabit the pond, as well as other denizens such as crawfish and turtles.

The Nature Area is used by not only Peterson Middle School, but any school is welcome for field trip and events. Approximately thirty 8th graders and thirty 7th graders are working as Nature Area Guides for the elementary school field trips. The experienced guides spent Fall 2009 introducing the new guides to the various field trips. The guides are particularly expert at the 4th/5th grade field trip that visits the 3 stations: Pond Study, FBI (fungi, bacteria, and invertebrates), and "Who Dirtied the Bay?" Their help has enabled many more classes to visit the Nature Area because only 2-3 parent chaperones are necessary.
In the future, Mr. Osborne has many more ideas for uses of VIVOTEK Network Cameras. A SD7313 35X Speed Dome is planned for closer observation of the birds of prey and to study their hunting and migratory habits. An IZ7151, with its 18X Zoom lens, will be used for observing hummingbird nests when chicks hatch in the springtime.
VIVOTEK USA would like to thank Mr. Bryan Osborne for his gracious time in giving a tour of the Nature Area and his enthusiasm and contribution towards education.
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