Special Events

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sparks for Inspiration

Some meaningful gifts from the KQED Education Network have been “sparkling” in my apartment, which keeps reminding me of a special event for educators in the Bay Area on August 22, 2007.

KQED/Northern California Public Broadcasting (NCPB) is affiliated to PBS. KQED Education Network uses the power of KQED Public Media to inspire learning by providing curriculum materials, professional development, online resources and special events for educators. The educator gathering on August 22nd is one of the event series to show teachers how to utilize KQED’s free curricular resources and professional development trainings for the 2007-08 academic year in the content areas of SCIENCE, ART, HISTORY/LANGUAGE ARTS, as well as MEDIA LITERACY, and MEDIA MAKING.

It was a crisp summer night, about 100 educators/school teachers cheerfully gathered on the second floor at the KQED public broadcasting station. The evening activities started with a very informative tour of the television studios and control rooms with gigantic multi-screen wall panels, where program directors and computer technicians showed us the TV streaming channels from many other major television stations including PBS, BBC and so on. They also explained to us how the second-by-second operations run seamlessly 24/7. Next to the television control rooms are the television program archive rooms with shelves and cabinets full of program tapes or digital files.

Then, we toured the studios where many KQED television shows are shot. The studios have soaring ceilings with clouds of filming apparatuses hovering in mid-air, which can be lowered or elevated and adjusted for different angles by computer control. The tour guide also showed us different stage sets and equipment in the studios and explained how shows are shot at the scenes. It is very interesting to learn about the complicated collaborations of TV producers, directors, cameramen, lighting technicians, film editors and sound engineers, and the high tech “tricks” used by them behind the scenes.

The hallways whose flooring covers uncountable cables led us to the KQED radio station studios. The thick walls of these radio broadcasting rooms have big double pane windows that were designed to keep out the outside noises—these double panes are not parallel to one another, the inner wall glass panes were installed at an angle with the outer wall glass panes to prevent the bouncing of noises. I have always been interested in how architects work with acousticians to design the magnificent concert halls, and this tour has deepened my interest in the science of acoustics.

In order to give us a detailed description of how things work inside the radio broadcasting room, the radio host/producer of the afternoon-midnight shift paused his news report and put music on the air. He showed us how he usually gets the news from the Internet, and uses the computer to write his own scripts. He also showed us how he controls the multi sound track panel to put the news reports from PBS, NPR, BBC, local news or music on the air. He pays immaculate attention to how he projects his charming voice by speaking to the microphone at the right distance and by adjusting the height of his work tables tops, which allows him to lean towards the microphone at the right angle. His amazing multi-tasking skills turn his daily shows into a seamless blend of news from multi major broadcasting networks, music, weather, and reports in other content areas.

After the tours of the KQED studios, we were treated to a buffet of delicious hors d'oeuvres, drinks and wine. Meanwhile, teachers walked around to look at the free
curricular resources in the content areas of SCIENCE, ART, HISTORY/LANGUAGE ARTS, as well as MEDIA LITERACY, and MEDIA MAKING.

This event for educators ended with a raffle drawing. To my great surprise, I was a raffle winner. I was awarded a big, attractive beige KQED tote bag with light green floral design filled with the following items:

· a KQED USB flash drive
· a pair of mini headphones
· a blue Levi Strauss baseball cap embroidered with “KQED”
· a KQED silver-color travel thermos mug
· a bottle of red wine
· an orange Eton multi-purpose radio with its carry-on shoulder bag
· a stack of blank DVDs and a stack of blank CDs
· a cute red stuffed puppy named “Clifford”, a story book character that is also in a PBS children education program
· a PBS home DVD video: Ocean Adventures by Jean-Michel Cousteau
· a black KQED t-shirt with printed words “Spark- art for everyone”
· a white mug with printed words “Spark- art for everyone”
· a KQED “Spark” DVD, a multimedia project about Performing Arts
· a KQED “Spark” DVD, a multimedia project about Music
· a KQED “Spark” DVD, a multimedia project about Visual Arts
· a KQED “Spark” DVD, a multi-platform arts project about Visual Arts
· a book Beginner’s Guide to Community-based Arts by Keith Knight, Mat Sckwarzman & others
· an Arts Education book Third Space—When Learning Matters by Lauren Stevenson & Richard Deasy

This list of gifts might look like a recipe, and it could be a recipe for ideas and inspiration. For me, these tangible gifts can become intangible day-to-day inspiration for learning and teaching.

Inspirational Prize from KDFC Classical Music Station

In July, 2004, I entered the listeners’ contest of My Three Sonatas held by KDFC classical music radio station 102.1 FM.

The contest requirement of My Three Sonatas was that one must suggest 3 pieces of classical music that share the same theme. The theme I chose was “spring” with the following 3 compositions whose orchestral styles range from the Baroque era, Romantic era to the turn of the 20th Century:

· The Spring movement from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741),
· The Spring Symphony (Op. 38 in B Flat Major) by Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
· Printemps by Claude Debussy (1862-1918)

On Monday, July 19, 2004, I got an e-mail from the Program Director of Classical 102.1 KDFC:
“Happy Monday! As you may have heard, we used your suggestion during our My Three Sonatas weekend, and that means we'll be sending you a CD-3-pack from the KDFC prize stash. Many thanks, and thanks for listening, Rik”

A few days later the prize reached me . . . with more inspiration.

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