Back to school: Dave and Mike's day off

What's more terrifying than traveling across a glacier and having a crevasse open up at your feet? Try speaking in front of a group of sixth- and seventh-graders. Dave and Mike take their show on the road.

The mission
Introduce school children to high-tech and high-altitude technology.

The plan
Visit a local grade school. Take loaded backpack. Speak for an hour. Take Q & A from the kids.

The danger
Making the kids so bored they’d wish for their next math class.

What’s more terrifying than traveling across a glacier and having a crevasse open up at your feet? Try speaking in front of a group of eager sixth- and seventh-graders.

On Thursday, March 30, Mike and I took our mountaineering show on the road to Most Blessed Sacrament Elementary School. Thanks to Mike Rouse, the school’s principal, we met up with Carol Oyler. Ms. Oyler’s sixth- and seventh-grade class had just finished studying India and was eager to hear a little more about that part of the world. So we thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be really cool if we could bring a little part of that world to them every day that we were in Nepal?” I mean, after all, Nepal is India’s neighbor.

Voila! We had just adopted about 40 sixth-and seventh-graders.

Packing up our boots, ice axes, carabiners, crampons, and various layers of clothing, we threw our backpacks over our shoulders and headed for our first challenge. We arrived at the school and were announced: “Ms. Oyler's expeditioners are here.” I have to admit something; it was sort of a rush (insert sheepish grin).

We came. We saw. We conquered. Conquered our own fear, that is. The children were terrific. In fact, we fielded some pretty serious questions—most were more intuitive than the ones we are receiving from adults. Like this one addressed to Mike:

“Since you’re going to be together for so long, how do you keep from getting on each other’s nerves.” Wow. Excellent question.

Or this one, which I received towards the end of the hour:

“If you’re roped together on the top of the mountain, and you have to go to the bathroom, how do you do it?” Again, excellent question.

As for the answer to the first question, you’ll have to stay tuned in the coming weeks to find out just how we manage our personal space. As for the other question, well, let’s just say there’s more than one reason there’s so much rope between each climber.

The Dave and Mike show
It’s all fine and good to go talk about mountaineering, but just what purpose does it serve taking the Mike and Dave show on the road—other than to stroke our own egos, that is. Well, it actually accomplishes a couple of things.

First, it will show how important teamwork is in accomplishing many of life’s goals. This expedition is a microcosmic reflection of that thing our fathers and mothers always told us about. Come on. You all know what I’m talking about. I’m referring to the Real World. (I just felt a huge collective shudder.) Seriously, we’ll be relying on each other during this entire trip. From perceiving symptoms of acute mountain sickness to checking another’s fall, teamwork is going to see us through our expedition.

Next, when setting goals, it’s important to define our path. We don’t just go climb a mountain. We train. We train hard. Not just physically, but mentally.

And finally, we’re always setting personal limits. And the great thing about personal limits is this: those limits are always being pushed and redefined. We do this every day of our lives. Whether it’s pushing our physical limits to make it to a granite summit, or pushing our mental limits to get that network up and running in just 48 hours. Either way, we’re always discovering new things about ourselves.

Classroom basics
We’ll be asking the class to pose a collective question each day. We’ll answer the best we can. We’ll also be sending daily pictures back to our new friends at Most Blessed Sacrament. And who knows, we may even try to bring something back so they can display it in their classroom. But the number one thing we hope to accomplish for them is this: through the use of the Internet, we hope to bring a remote section of the world a little closer to Ms. Oyler’s classroom.


David Bard has been a fixture at TechRepublic for some time now. At one time he was editor-in-chief of LinuxRepublic and then AdminRepublic. Currently, he occupies space as an editor-in-chief with TechProGuild. In addition, he's a freelance writer who has covered extreme sports for years. He also is a writer of horror and—contrary to what his climbing partner may think—is hoping the expedition to Nepal doesn't provide fodder for his next story. When he's not at home teaching his year-and-a-half-old daughter why it's not a good idea to eat rocks, or trying to convince his wife why yet another expedition really is necessary, he's usually off in some remote section of woods trying to discover himself. He's still looking.

Mike Jackman is an editor-in-chief of TechProGuild and the editor of PC Troubleshooter and Windows Support Professional, and he also works as a freelance Web designer and consultant. Together with his co-editor-in-chief, David Bard, he will be traveling to Nepal in April 2000 to report on high-altitude technology and to climb 20,285-foot Imja Tse. In his spare time (when he can find some), Mike's an avid devourer and writer of science fiction, parent to two perpetually adolescent cats, and a hiking enthusiast.

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