By Robbie S. Ward/MSU University Relations
STARKVILLE – Students at Starkville Public Schools now may see university researchers describe their scientific investigations as they conduct them.
A new partnership between Mississippi State University and the school district also is enabling them to view special Smithsonian Institution programs and experience other educational opportunities for the first time.
SPS elementary and high school classrooms now have access to Internet2, a next-generation network providing higher education and other research institutions with high-performance networking capabilities designed to increase research and educational opportunities.
Walter Gonsoulin, the district’s assistant superintendent for operations, said introducing the students to the many types of scientific careers will be a major benefit. He noted, for example, that classes recently watched online as researchers from MSU and other research institutions throughout the world discussed different ocean organisms during a high-definition video feed originating from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.
“This is real-time stuff that our students were able to get access to see,” Gonsoulin said. “It makes the curriculum even more relevant.”
Timothy Griffin of MSU’s Information Technology Services said the Internet2 partnership continues a long tradition of close collaboration between MSU and the Starkville School District.
Griffin, director of information technology infrastructure, said the university’s access to Internet2 is part of the Mississippi Optical Network – MissiON, for short – a high-performance network connecting research universities in the Magnolia State.
In addition to MSU, MissiON involves Jackson State University and the universities of Mississippi and Southern Mississippi. Other participants include the Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, UM Medical Center in Jackson and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg.
While the MSU-Starkville partnership makes the district the first in the state to be sponsored for Internet 2 participation, a goal of MissiON is the addition of more school districts, Griffin said.
Nationally, more than 200 higher education institutions, 40 industry partners and 66 government agencies and more than 100 national research and educational networking organizations representing more than 50 countries make up Internet2.