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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI Bay Campus to Host JASON Project 2004: Rainforests at the Crossroads

Media Contact:

Lisa Cugini, (401) 874-6642

Live broadcasts from Panama to the URI Bay Campus will
take place from January 26-February 6.

Narragansett, RI -- January 16, 2004 -- JASON XV: Rainforests at the Crossroads will engage students and teachers in an exciting journey to explore the Isthmus of Panama region and its fascinating tropical rainforests. JASON XV will focus on the research, monitoring, and management of this region to better understand how it functions and how it changes through time.

As Dr. Robert Ballard and his team of scientists and Teacher and Student Argonauts explore the unique role the Isthmus of Panama and its tropical rainforests play in furthering our global understanding of the interchange between Earth's dynamic systems, every student in Rhode Island will have the opportunity to view the expedition either live at the URI Bay Campus, or over Cox cable channel 3. The students at schools that have high speed internet connections (I2) have the benefit of viewing and being able to interact with the URI host during live broadcasts.

The JASON Project broadcasts will take place from January 26-February 6. The general public, is invited to view the live, interactive JASON broadcasts at the Coastal Institute Visitor Center Auditorium each Monday through Friday, January 26-30 and February 2-6, at 2:15 and 3:45 p.m. On Saturday, January 31, live broadcasts are at 9:45 and 11:15 a.m. and 12:45, 2:15, and 3:45 p.m. The 9:45, 11:15 and 12:45 shows during the week are reserved for school groups. This year the URI JASON hosts have designated specific dates and times for Homeschooler (January 28 and February 4 at 2:15 pm) and Girl Scout (January 28, 29, and February 4 at 3:45 pm) viewing. Tickets are just $1 per person. Preregistration is required and will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The live broadcasts of the JASON Project expedition will be carried on Cox Cable Channel 3 Monday through Friday of both weeks from 12-1 p.m. daily.

For the second time in fifteen years a teacher from our area has been chosen to be a JASON teacher argonaut. Melissa Kapeckas, a teacher at Thurston Middle School in Westwood, MA, has integrated JASON into her classroom her last four out of seven years teaching. Kapeckas was the first recipient of her former school's Hillside School Headmaster Travel Grant, a program established to encourage experiential learning among teachers. Through the grant she traveled to the Peruvian Amazon, the site of JASON X, and visited local villages and an elementary school in Lago Yurac Yacu.

Her outreach efforts to the Lago Yurac Yacu elementary school continued after she arrived home through annual outreach efforts. Kapeckasís class holds a fund drive for the Peruvian school to buy school supplies and collects medical supplies and books to send with a regional high school class that visits the school each year. Kapeckas is also fluent in Spanish and looks forward to using it in Panama.

JASON XV will be led by JASON Project founder and URI Graduate School of Oceanography faculty member Dr. Robert Ballard. More information about the 2004 JASON Project can be found at

The Rhode Island JASON Project is coordinated by the URI Office of Marine Programs. Sponsors for the JASON Project in Rhode Island include the State of Rhode Island, the University of Rhode Islandís Office of Marine Programs and Graduate School of Oceanography, Rhode Island Sea Grant, the Rhode Island Office of Higher Education, the Rhode Island Department of Education, OSHEAN, RINET, Cox Communications, the Providence Journal, and the JASON Foundation for Education.

For information or to register a class or group, or purchase individual tickets, call the URI Office of Marine Programs at 401-874-6211.