Students at St. Petersburg’s Perkins Elementary School talked face-to-face with students halfway around the world Thursday evening in a lesson on bonsai trees and cultural differences.
The students gathered at the school at 7:30 p.m. and used Ustream, a live video broadcasting software, to talk with students at Kinashi Elementary in Takamatsu, Japan, during the Japanese students’ normal Friday classes. Perkins students asked about the bonsai tree and its significance in Japanese culture and then showed the Japanese students several of their art projects.
Aside from introducing students to kids from another country, the exchange was meant to reinforce the ways technology can be used to learn in and out of the classroom.
Perkins students have developed an informal “sister school” relationship with Kinashi Elementary that stems from the 52-year sister cities relationship between St. Petersburg and Takamatsu. Through the relationship, St. Petersburg’s International Relations committee sends select high school students to Japan to live with host families for three weeks in the summer.
Perkins students have also talked with their Japanese counterparts before. Both schools opened the 2012 Takamatsu Bonsai Ueki Festival with a virtual exchange, where students asked questions about daily life, sports, pets, favorite foods and hobbies.