SOURCE: Polycom, Inc.

November 12, 2008 08:30 ET

Students Study Climate Change in Antarctica and Visit NASA Space Centers During National Distance Learning Week

Polycom Visual Communication Expands Classroom Walls Enabling Students to Experience Science, Culture and History Firsthand

PLEASANTON, CA--(Marketwire - November 12, 2008) - In support of National Distance Learning week Nov. 10-14, Polycom, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCM), the global leader in telepresence, video and voice communications solutions that enable distance learning programs, today announced sponsorship of several exciting programs taking place during National Distance Learning Week that will take students to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) space and research centers in celebration of NASA's 50th anniversary, to Antarctica to study climate change with a scientific research team, and to Africa to examine democracy through the lens of U.S. and Ghanaian presidential elections.

"Distance learning programs like these are wonderful examples of how visual communications can enhance collaboration and learning," said Joe Sigrist, senior vice president and general manager of video solutions at Polycom. "It is amazing to see how this type of interaction in the classroom can stimulate and inspire young minds. Polycom is proud of our involvement with U.S. and international distance learning organizations and is constantly amazed by the exciting ways that educators apply the technology to enhance the classroom learning experience."

NASA's 50th birthday via visual communication

NASA's Digital Learning Network™, the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), Discovery Education and Polycom are sponsoring a unique program Nov. 13-14 that will allow 20 schools from 10 different countries to virtually visit NASA space and research centers as part of a NASA's 50th birthday celebration. The 20 mostly middle school classes from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong (China), India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States will be participating as live interactive sites using Polycom visual communication solutions. Hundreds of other schools are expected to participate by watching the live Web cast at

During 10 unique sessions, each of which connect to a different NASA location, students from two schools, one U.S. and one international, will interact with NASA scientists about exciting topics, including: the Space Shuttle, The Mercury Project, The Gemini Project, The Hubble Space Telescope, Icing Wind Tunnel, Airplane Wind Shear, The Phoenix Mars Lander, The Viking Project, The X-43 Project and NASA's Stennis Space Center history. A NASA birthday celebration will also take place during each session. In preparation for the event, Discovery Education has created its NASA at 50 website, located at

"The NASA at 50 program is an incredible opportunity for students to get excited about real-world applications for science," said Marci Powell, chairman of the board of the USDLA, and global director of Higher Education & Corporate Training for Polycom. "Through visual communication, students will enhance classroom programs by interacting face to face with the NASA scientists to hear firsthand about historic, groundbreaking projects."

Climate change in Antarctica through virtual classrooms

Global Nomads Group, an international NGO that creates interactive educational programs for students about global issues, in partnership The Offshore New Harbor Project (part of the Antarctic Geological Drilling Program or ANDRILL) and Polycom, are hosting a series of Virtual Classrooms from Antarctica through December to study evidence from the last time carbon dioxide levels were this high -- 25 million years ago. Students from more than 30 schools around the globe are using visual communication to connect directly to the scientific experts on the ground in Antarctica to discuss different topics relating to changes in the environment. By speaking with their peers and with experts in climate history, students are gaining a greater understanding of the cycles of planet Earth and the environmental problems that face us now.

The 15-person scientific expedition team is lead by Dr. Stephen Pekar, a geology professor from Queens College who is visiting the icy continent for the third time. The team is comprised of scientists, two graduate students from Queens College and an eighth-grade science teacher from Promise Academy in Harlem, New York, who uses Polycom visual communication to teach classes from the ice. During the seven-week adventure, the team will study the rock beneath a sheet of ice 20 feet thick called the Ross Ice Shelf. The scientists will collect weather data and use a series of microphones to map the rock floor and study carbon levels in a region that has gone largely undocumented.

"The Antarctica program is an example of what 21st Century education is all about: bringing science to life for students through a remarkable partnership between Polycom, Offshore New Harbor Expedition, and Global Nomads Group," said Terry Culver, executive director, Global Nomads Group. "Each week, this partnership takes students to the coldest place on earth, to learn about climate change by speaking directly with the scientists who are researching it."

Democracy through the lens of two presidential elections

In addition to the Antarctica program, Global Nomads Group is running a distance learning program this month called Election Watch 2008: Global Perspectives, focused on examining the meaning of democracy by studying the recent American presidential election and putting it in context of the international community. On Nov. 12, students from several U.S. schools will use visual communication to discuss the recent historic election of Barack Obama as the 44th U.S. president. Then on Nov. 19, they will connect via video with students in Ghana to discuss their upcoming presidential election and examine the similarities and differences between American and Ghanaian democracy.

Polycom helps schools connect with high-quality distance learning content providers through an online searchable content database and the Polycom Content Access Program. Polycom also offers a large scale global directory and professional network of educators for video conferencing project collaboration called Polycom Collaborations Around the Planet. This directory can help connect educators to increase video conferencing utilization, expand and enhance curriculum, provide access to global collaborations, and increase educational equity.

About Polycom

Polycom, Inc. (NASDAQ: PLCM) is the global leader in telepresence, video, and voice solutions and a visionary in communications that empower people to connect and collaborate everywhere. Please visit for more information.

About Global Nomads Group

Founded in 1998, the Global Nomads Group (GNG) is a non-profit organization dedicated to heightening children's understanding and appreciation for the world and its people. Using interactive technologies such as video conferencing, GNG brings young people together face-to-face to meet across cultural and national boundaries to discuss their differences and similarities, as well as the world issues that affect them.

Polycom and the Polycom logo are registered trademarks of Polycom in the U.S. and various countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Copyright © 2008, Polycom, Inc. All rights reserved.

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