Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Critical Role Technology Plays in our Summer Programs

As we wrap up the Youth Environmental Education Programing this summer with the conclusion of our Boston Harbor Explorers, All Access Boston Harbor, and Share the Harbor programs, we cant hel but reflect upon the technology that we use day to day (and more and more) that helps to enrich the opportunities that our programs provide for our youth staffers and beyond.
Thanks to our incredible partnership with Comcast, we are able to take advantage of technology in all its many forms! The most long standing and "traditional" use of technology in our youth programs is driven by the work on the Save the Harbor/Save the Bay blog “Sea, Sand and Sky”. Each week, all summer staff members write a blog recounting the highlights of each week’s events, full of pictures to accompany their stories. With the help of the Lead Harbor Explorers and Senior Harbor Educators, our high school aged Junior Program Assistants work on outlining and writing captivating accounts of their work with the youth out on each Boston Harbor program partner site. This not only allows them to enhance their writing skills during the summer months, but it allows them to have something to look back on to remind them of all the hard work they have done to run engaging environmental science programs. 

We rely heavily on wifi hotspots and the laptops and carrying cases that are donated to us by *Comcast* to blog while we have breaks on site, so that we can best make use of and manage our time during the day.

Summer staff using the iPad to fly the drone at DCR's Carson Beach in Southie.
In the theme of youth skills development, with such resources we are able to hold resume building workshops with the high school students, college students, and post grads alike. In 2018 we worked with the directors of the youth programs to improve the organization, presentation, and necessary information that belongs on a resume for each staffer’s future endeavors. In addition to writing resumes, the program also helped each person to set up a LinkedIn account in order to begin to build a professional networking profile. 
A drone photo of Sand Art on Revere Beach.

Out on the harbor, we are able to utilize tools such as GoPro’s and the drone to accurately capture the scale of our work. With events such as the Beach Bash and Splash on DCR’s Carson Beach in South Boston, the GoPro is critical in capturing more than 1,400 youth from Y groups, Neighborhood houses and more running into the water on hot summer days. New this year, and thanks to the new tablets from Comcast, flying the drone captures the beautiful designs that the youth create in the intertidal zone while sand raking. Save the Harbor staff fly the drones using the applications downloaded on iPads donated by *Comcast*. It gives youth that don’t have access to this realm of technology a chance to become familiar with how a drone works while catching a glimpse of the harbor from a different perspective.
Moments like this splash at the Beach Bash and Splash can be captured using GoPros.

Each cruise that Save the Harbor/Save the Bay runs on the Provincetown II receives hundreds if not over a thousand RSVPs and tracking these groups has been streamlined by the use of the iPads for All Access Boston Harbor and Share the Harbor trips. With the iPads, the staff checking in each group is able to update immediately who is present, and what attendance numbers have changed. This eliminates the need to go back into the document after the fact to revise the original numbers, which is how we record how many youth and families have taken advantage of the free opportunities that our cruises have to offer.
Share the Harbor cruises are streamlined by iPads for RSVP and check-in.

To expand these opportunities in the future, we plan to go further to upgrade underwater cameras to observe the wildlife’s behavior in their marine environment, and highlight our program sites with youth-made video profiles. With such footage in conjunction with video from the drone and GoPro, summer staff members will be able to take advantage of video editing opportunities that may be present in the future.
We're grateful for our longstanding partnership with Comcast that has let this program grow and thrive, and particularly in the new ideas and projects are beginning to tackle working together. By using the technology that is available to us, our summer staff not only are able to educate and forge relationships with Boston’s youth, but enhance and progress their writing, career, and technological skills while spending the summer out on the Boston Harbor.

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