Tennessee Aquarium Educators Honored with Pinnacle Award

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Tennessee Aquarium educator Thaddeus Taylor delivers a Distance Learning program to Bayview Elementary in Westbury, New York.

Tennessee Aquarium Educators Honored with Pinnacle Award

Aug 30, 2010

Contact: Thom Benson 423-785-3007

Chattanooga, Tenn. (August 30, 2010) – Tennessee Aquarium educator Thaddeus Taylor carefully prepares a leopard gecko and fire-bellied toad for a classroom presentation in Hewitt, Texas. Tomorrow Taylor, or another Aquarium educator, may be in a classroom in Medford, Oregon, Long Island, New York or Indianapolis, Indiana. Leap-frogging across North America is made possible with high-definition video technology delivered via the Internet. “During the past school year we presented 84 lessons to classrooms in 16 states, Canada and Mexico,” said Aquarium senior educator Bray McDonald. “That’s part of why our Distance Learning Programs are so much fun. It’s rewarding to reach students thousands of miles from Chattanooga.”

The Aquarium is among a group of 25 cultural organizations across the United States and beyond that recently earned the coveted Pinnacle Award for the 2009-2010 school year from the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC). The award is presented annually to providers who post top-ranking K-12 standards-based interactive videoconferencing programs to www.cilc.org.

CILC Pinnacle Award-winning recipients received a 2.85 average score out of a possible 3 on their program evaluations submitted by teachers and other end-users. The evaluation assesses seven areas: two related to the effectiveness of the presenter and five related to the educational content of the program. All content posted to www.cilc.org by Pinnacle Award winners is marked with the CILC flame to convey Pinnacle status.

“Because the Pinnacle and other quality designations are based on direct input from teachers who have experienced the programs first hand, they are highly credible,” said John Ittlelson, CILC board member and Director of Instructional Technology for California Virtual School. “When teachers are selecting content to use in their own classrooms, they appreciate the guidance provided by these important distinctions.”

As the Aquarium’s coordinator of Distance Learning Programs, McDonald is especially pleased to be graded so highly by other educators. “The Pinnacle Award is really an honor,” McDonald said. “We work very hard to ensure our programs are fun, fact-filled and engaging for the students. And it’s a pleasure to be invited back to places like Hobbs, New Mexico year after year to show kids the Aquarium’s amazing animals and teach them about the natural world.”

“This year we had a record number of recipients, which clearly demonstrates that the quality of videoconferencing programs for K-12 students is stronger than ever,” said Ruth E. Blankenbaker, CILC executive director. CILC helps schools by advancing learning through videoconferencing and other collaborative technologies.

For more information about the Tennessee Aquarium’s Distance Learning Programs, go to: http://www.tnaqua.org/Education/DistanceLearning.aspx.

The Pinnacle award began in 2007-2008. This year’s recipients include:

  • ACT Out Ensemble - Indianapolis, IN
  • Adventures In Medicine & Science (AIMS) Program of Saint Louis University - St.
  • Louis, MO
  • Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum - Ann-Arbor, MI
  • AT&T Park, Home of the San Francisco Giants - San Francisco, CA
  • Bronx Zoo/ Wildlife Conservation Society - Bronx, NY
  • Calvert Marine Museum - Solomons, MD
  • Center for Puppetry Arts - Atlanta, GA
  • Clarian Health Partners (Methodist Hospital) - Indianapolis, IN
  • Cleveland Museum of Art - Cleveland, OH
  • Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum - The Dalles, OR
  • Distance Learning Solutions LLC - Israel
  • International Wolf Center - Ely, MN
  • Kigluait Educational Adventures - Talkeetna, AK
  • Louisville Science Center - Louisville, KY
  • Lower East Side Tenement Museum - New York, NY
  • Mote Marine Laboratory - Sarasota, FL
  • NASA's Digital Learning Network (Kennedy Space Center) - Kennedy Space
  • Center, FL
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art - Philadelphia, PA
  • Reef HQ Aquarium - Townsville, Queensland - Australia
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum - Cleveland, OH
  • Roper Mountain Science Center - Greenville, SC
  • Royal Botanical Gardens - Burlington, Ontario, Canada
  • Stark Parks - Canton, OH
  • Tennessee Aquarium - Chattanooga, TN
  • The Sheffield Museum of Rural Life - Sheffield, Ontario – Canada

About CILC

The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC), a not-for-profit, provides services, including consulting and workshops, to help develop, support and evaluate video distance learning programs and community projects to maximize learning. CILC’s website, www.cilc.org, provides access to engaging interactive videoconferencing content and professional development programs, collaboration opportunities, and site directories. CILC partners include Education Network of America (ENA), Eluminate, My eCoach, Wainhouse Research and TANDBERG, part of Cisco.


The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder, appreciation and protection of water and all life that it sustains. Admission is $24.95 per adult and $14.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $8.50 per adult and $6.00 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $29.95 for adults and $19.95 for children. Excursions aboard the new River Gorge Explorer depart daily into “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.” Cruise tickets are $29.00 per adult and $21.50 per child (3-12). Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities.

ONLINE press kits & downloadable images: http://www.tnaqua.org/News/Newsroom.aspx 

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