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Calvin Offers Petra Workshops for Teachers
January 11, 2005

Like the silver screen's Indiana Jones, local archaeologist Neal Bierling is also a school teacher.

So the upcoming Petra: Lost City of Stone exhibition, scheduled for April to August 2005 at Calvin College, is exciting to him on a number of levels, one of which is the opportunity it will provide for education for local educators and students.

And to help local teachers learn more about Petra: Lost City of Stone, Bierling has scheduled five educators' sessions in January and February, where he will explain how teachers and their students can benefit from the exhibit at Calvin.

"We want teachers," he says, "to know how they can bring their classes to Petra and how they can bring Petra to their classroom. We want educators and their students to be able to fully experience Petra."

Tools for Teaching Petra
DeVos Center
Bytwerk Video Theatre
9 am to 10:30 am

January 15, 2005
January 22, 2005
January 29, 2005
February 5, 2005
February 12, 2005

Each session will be the same, so teachers need only attend one!

No charge, but pre-register by calling 616-526-7800, option #5.

The free educators’ sessions are scheduled for January 15, 22 and 29 as well as February 5 and 12. Each session will be the same, so local teachers need only attend one. Teachers need to pre-register by calling (616) 526-7800.

Bierling, a Calvin College graduate who has worked for years as an archaeologist at Petra, Jordan, says that the 90-minute sessions will do two things. First, teachers will learn more about the actual Petra: Lost City of Stone exhibition coming to Calvin in April 2005. That exhibit will sprawl over 7,000 square feet of the Prince Conference Center at Calvin (a building that will be significantly renovated as it moves from a conference center to a museum-quality facility) and will feature 200 exceptional objects, including Nabataean stone sculptures and reliefs, ceramics, metalwork, artworks in various media and other priceless artifacts. All are on loan from collections in Jordan and throughout Europe, and many are on display in the United States for the first time in history.

Second, the sessions will educate teachers about the many educational resources available and a soon-to-be released virtual reality tour of the city of Petra in Jordan. Both resources, Bierling says, will offer much to area teachers.

The website, for example, includes educators' guides, activities such as sifting screens, shoebox archaeology and papyrus making, as well as all kinds of inside insights into the world of archaeology. All of the lesson plans and activities include documentation as to how the lesson or activity meets the Michigan curriculum standards.

The virtual reality tour is being produced by Phoenix Data Systems, a company run by Neal Bierling and his son Joel. The amazing tour includes satellite maps of Jordan and allows the user to explore Petra, the ancient city of the Nabataeans, via Phoenix Data Systems' PanoReality.com technology with over 600 fully interactive photographs providing a full 360 by 360 degree field of view.

The sessions also will allow teachers to learn more about continuing education units (CEUs) available via the Petra exhibition, including through planned lectures, a special four-week Calvin history course on Petra and more. "Petra is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for local teachers and school children," says Bierling. "We want to be sure that we do everything we can to help people understand the exhibition and how they can plug into it."

The exhibition is organized by the Cincinnati Art Museum and American Museum of Natural History, New York under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with air transportation generously provided by Royal Jordanian.

To register for the educators’ sessions, call (616) 526-7800 option #5.