Things have been pretty busy behind the scenes for the past few weeks. While the students are off on the last part of their summer break here in Modesto, Chris Flesuras enlisted me to help with some new designs for our shared island on PacRimX.
He has laid out a detailed plan to transform our shared island into a metropolitan area where our students will meet, share their cultures, put on performances, and design displays that reflect traditional aspects of their home countries.
Chris has started to build the first buildings of the downtown area on the shared island of PacRimX. The Japanese Towncenter has it’s first building, a showroom for popular Japanese products and cultural items. Here are a few shots of this new building that is still under construction:
Towncenter Japanese Marketplace Building
Chris has learned a lot of new building techniques in constructing this new building. He has been studying up on websites like Pathfinder Linden on how to build like the pros. Now I need him to share some of this knowledge with me so I can update my skills. He’s doing an amazing job with these new buildings and the students are going to love the resulting shared island space.
We decided to remove our old Amphitheater from the island. It was not very appealing visually, and we ended up not holding very many events there, as we had designed it too small for our needs. Now that we know about how big of a space we need, Chris suggested that we construct a baseball park to act as our new amphitheater. After the summer school video conference interviews it become very obvious that students in both countries love baseball. We decided to model our PacRimX Park after popular ballparks that students on both sides of the Pacific would identify with:
Entrance to PacRimX Ballpark
View from the Balcony inside PacRimX Ballpark
We have outfitted the stadium with a large screen for streaming videos into this space. The bleachers have a steep enough angle that we did not have to install seats (cuts down on the prim count), anyone can stand and see over whoever is in front of them in this stadium. If you really need to sit down you can pick a spot and stretch out, or throw down your own stadium seating.
We still have quite a ways to go with this redesign of the shared island. With almost eight months now under our belts, we think we have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to need as we move forward with this project. In the next few weeks we will be selecting new teachers and classes to participate in the PacRimX project. Sometime in the next month the students from Modesto that will travel to Kyoto in April 2008 will be selected. And in a few months (October 2007) students from Kyoto will be visiting Modesto, along with a contingency of administrators. It’s always great to have real life face to face time with our partners in Kyoto.
The coming year looks to be the first full school year for our island to be used by multiple groups of students in a variety of classes and subjects. The enthusiasm for this project in both countries remains very high. We hope to leverage that enthusiasm to add a fourth island to the project, and possibly join up with some other schools in other countries and time zones (but more on that later).
There’s even a possibility that I might be heading up the exchange program from Modesto, and taking our first group of students since 2001 to Kyoto in April. I should have something to announce on that in the next few weeks. I was already planning on traveling to Kyoto this year, this would just shift the focus a bit for this first (and hopefully not last) trip to Kyoto. I am hopeful that I will be able to take my triplet sons with me next year during their junior year in High School. They are founding students for this project, and have been involved since day one of the project.
This new school year will also see other teachers and educators from both sides of the Pacific contributing to this blog. Kyoto Gauken has started a Japanese language blog which we will link to this blog (through the Blogroll) in the coming month. So many new developments. It’s going to be an exciting year. Keep an eye here for all the latest details for this project.