Illinois Teacher Transports Students to 1962 with CAP Distance Learning Scholarship

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By Therese Perlowski - Program Manager, Internet2 Community Anchor Program

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Laurel Adams

Laurel Adams, a 6-12th grade paraprofessional/facilitator at Palestine High School in Illinois, was determined to find ways to keep students engaged and inspired during the pandemic. Since in-person field trips were out of the question, Adams sought out a new way to take her students beyond the classroom: a virtual simulation experience through the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC).

As a recipient of the Internet2 Community Anchor Program Distance Learning Scholarship and through her school’s connection to her state’s research and education network, the Illinois Century Network, her classroom was able to participate in a Cuban Missile Crisis Simulation program from the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC.

The Cuban Missile Crisis simulation transported students back to the October of 1962 where they became intelligence analysts for the CIA, responsible for reviewing Cuban national reports indicating a Soviet offensive nuclear build-up on the island. By examining and analyzing various primary sources, they were tasked with recommending a course of action to President Kennedy.

Adams said that the one-on-one nature of the event kept her students deeply engaged and that they loved analyzing the documents that JFK used. Ultimately, based on their analysis, the class decided to send U2 flights over Cuba. Adams recounted what happened next:

While flying at 70,000 ft. our plane was riddled with bullet holes, but we were able to gather large drums of footage revealing Russian Military Equipment being stored at sites off-limits to the Cuban populace. To find out more, we decided to send in an undercover agent, Oleg Penkovsky a.k.a. Alex to Russia … then the 5th-hour bell rang.

The simulation not only allowed her students to practice essential critical thinking and analysis skills; it also let them explore a potential future career interest. “Many of our remote learners wish to go into law enforcement or the service, and this program gave them insight into the field,” said Adams.

As a distance learning scholarship recipient, Adams was able to utilize her school’s connection to the Illinois Century Network to participate in the simulation free-of-charge. “This program was something that we would never have been able to experience without this grant,” Adams said.

“The virtual experience eliminated the geographical and socio-economic boundaries my students would have otherwise faced and allowed them to discover something that they could be good at, something they may not have thought of before as possible for them,” Adams added.

Offered annually, the Internet2 Community Anchor Program’s scholarship program supported 38 K-12 teachers in seven states to implement free, one-on-one distance learning programs for their classes through the CILC. All recipients connect to the Internet2 network via their state or regional research and education network, which provided the robust internet connection needed for a live, interactive virtual program.

About Illinois Century Network (ICN):

The ICN, managed by the Illinois Department of Innovation & Technology (DoIT), is a high-speed broadband network serving K12 and Higher Education, Public Libraries and Museums, State and Local Government, and the Healthcare community. The ICN provides Internet and Intranet connectivity for thousands of sites statewide, ensuring high availability for cloud-based content, disaster recovery services, data, video, and audio communications.