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Children rescue volcano victims.

Byline: By Amanda Crook

Pupils battled extreme weather to save the planet from the comfort of a high-tec Tyneside classroom.

Teenagers from Walbottle High School, in Newcastle's Outer West, visited Newcastle's City Learning Centre to take part in the e-mission by linking up to the National Space Centre's mission control.

They had to evacuate 8,000 people from the Caribbean island of Monserrat after it was struck by hurricanes and a volcanic eruption.

Youngsters from Newburn Manor, Waverley and Lemington Riverside Primary Schools recorded the mission using video equipment.

Robbie Soulsby, 13, communications officer for the day, said: "It has been excellent. I have enjoyed taking orders from the flight director and talking on the video conferencing camera. It was a really good experience and I'd like to do again."

Jamie Carter, 15, part of the research team, said: "My role involved researching information on volcanoes and hurricanes in Monserrat so I could help evacuation teams do their job. The highlight of the day was evacuating 8,000 people from the island."

Filming the e-mission was the highlight of a four day IT workshop for talented pupils from Outer West primary schools.

Michael Wilkinson, 10, of Newburn Manor Primary was in the film crew. He said: "I've been working with computer controlled robots, using cameras and editing films.

"It has been really interesting using robots that scientists use and learning how to edit films using Adobe Premiere.

"It has been great fun, using computers, learning new things throughout the week exploring different subjects like geography for learning about Mars and maths to program robots."

Megan Hogarth, 10, of Newburn Manor, said: "My favourite part of the week was the e-Mission, I enjoyed interviewing students from Walbottle High School. It has been fun, exciting and enjoyable."

E-missions are designed to be an exciting simulated lesson delivered through live video conferencing and over the internet.

Pupils anywhere in the world can link up with the flight directors at the National Space Centre's e-mission control using the latest video conferencing and Internet technology.

Justine Crozier, City Learning Centre manager, said: "E-missions provide the excitement of the mission scenario to inspire students and encourage the use of new technology in education.

"The e-missions programme is an exciting way for children to actually make use of their maths and science skills.

"By presenting them with a real life situation, they can gain a better understanding of how these subjects can really benefit them in later life and it's something the students really enjoy."

Darren Neil, systems manager and ICT tutor, said: "All of the primary pupils experienced the pressure and demands of working in a news team in a variety of news team roles; camera operator, sound recorder and anchor presenter.

"The team all thoroughly enjoyed the experience and coped well with the demands placed on them."

Anne Rowlinson, Learning Mentor at Walbottle Campus, said: "The students thoroughly enjoyed their e-mission. Indeed three made inquiries if they could do it again!

"This programme gave them practice and confidence in their communication skills, as well as giving them insight into the practical uses of academic techniques and data handling.

"The memory I take away from the day is seeing young people of varying ages working together as fellow professionals in the roles they had been asked to take on. An exciting and worthwhile experience for all concerned."

Parents and teachers will get to share the e-mission experience at a special screening on Wednesday at the City Learning Centre.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 20, 2005
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