Susan Tave Zelman of the Ohio Department of Education speaks to state officials via the Third Frontier network.
Toledo Public Schools and Scioto Valley Local Schools in Piketon, Ohio, became the first two school districts in the state yesterday to connect to Ohio's most advanced fiber-optic network for education, research, and economic development.
State education officials praised the network as a means for students to interact with students elsewhere on the planet, learn from medical researchers, watch spaceships being launched by NASA, talk with scientists about new inventions, and take virtual field trips.
Susan Tave Zelman, superintendent of public instruction at the Ohio Department of Education, said all schools in the state would eventually be connected to the network, which is known as the Third Frontier Network.
"We're very excited about this first step in connecting our K-12 students to the network," she said. "The Third Frontier Network will allow students from across the state to have access to the same information and opportunities to learn."
Launched in 2004, the network connects Ohio's colleges, universities, research institutions, and now schools. The speed of the network is about 100 times faster than a typical Internet network connection and allows for interactions to occur in real time across long distances.
Education and government leaders gathered at the "Ohio Supercomputer Center" in Columbus, while officials in Toledo participated in the "lighting ceremony" from Woodward High School.
"The Third Frontier Network provides all students with high-speed Internet access and connections to people and places they would not otherwise be able to experience," said Toledo Superintendent Eugene Sanders. "This technology means great new educational opportunities for students throughout Ohio."
Other city school districts - Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Youngstown - are scheduled to be connected to the network by Sept. 30.