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PORTS FAQs


Questions?

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Is there a fee to participate in PORTS?
No. PORTS is a service provided by California State Parks for California public schools.

How do I sign up for a PORTS program?
Each program has a contact person that will help you arrange your participation. Go to the section listing the individual unit of study you are interested in to find the contact information.

Does my school have to be on the K-12 High Speed Network (HSN) to participate in PORTS?
No.  While it is possible to participate in PORTS without a connection to the HSN, we highly recommend that your classroom be connected to the HSN if you want to participate in these programs.  Video conferencing with PORTS requires a minimum connection speed of 384 KB per second so a high speed network connection is necessary.

Does my class have to complete all the lessons in a unit of study to participate in the video conferencing lessons?
No, however, the lessons leading up to the video conferencing lessons are designed to prepare the students to fully participate in and enjoy the rewards of the video conferencing lessons. While we do not require any proof that your students are prepared to participate in the video conference lessons, we highly recommend that you complete the preceding lessons. Just like a class is more likely to have an educationally worthwhile visit to a state park if they are well prepared before making the field trip, so too is your class more likely to receive benefit from the video conferencing lessons if they are well prepared.
  
How does PORTS work?
The PORTS website provides teachers and students with all the resources necessary to participate in a series of lessons that use park resources to address various academic content standards. These resources include lesson plans, digital images, digital video, historic documents, and other items. Each "Unit of Study" also contains at least one video conference where the park ranger speaks directly with the students. The video conferences are often from a distant and interesting location (inside the State Capitol, from the middle of the desert, from the beach on the southern California coast, etc.).

Who is the target audience?
While all of California’s public school students are the objective of this program, PORTS aims directly at those children that traditionally have been underserved by the state parks. The primary focus of PORTS is the urban, economically disadvantaged, and ethnically diverse students that have experienced geographic and social barriers to participate in state park programs. The students in the Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and Central Valley areas are especially important to the program.

Why is PORTS important?
PORTS helps teach academic content standards to California’s students in a very effective and compelling manner while providing access to the resources of California State Parks that would be otherwise unavailable to many students. PORTS aids the students’ education and protects our parks by increasing knowledge and appreciation of their valuable resources.

What equipment do I need? 
To access the online, on demand units of study you will need a computer connected to the internet.  The minimum technology requirements to participate in a videoconference program are: a standards-based video conferencing device, high-speed internet connection (minimum 384 KBPS), and a tv or LCD projector.

Does my school have the ability to use PORTS? 
Yes, if your school is connected to the HSN and you have standards-based video conferencing equipment. If you are unsure, have your IT staff contact us.

How can I get started? 
Contact your IT staff to ensure the technological capability of your school and contact the park employee listed at the beginning of the unit of study in which you are interested in participating.