April 15, 2000
You had almostEverest's techxpedition communicating with elementary school classes back home in Louisville, KY. You had Microsoft sponsoring a teacher going up to summit Everest. You had Everest 2000. And now, a trailside stop revealed another education initiative: Everest/Pumori 2000. It seemed the trail was crowded with laptops, satellite phones, solar chargers, and batteries—all in the name of education.
Everest/Pumori 2000 was an ambitious and worthy project. Its plan, according to co-leader and climber Bob Slozen, was to offer extensive online lessons to benefit education in Chicago.
The Everest/Pumori 2000 project was part of "Connecting classrooms to the world." Four area teachers and two staff members from the Chicago Academy of Sciences reported in daily with dispatches as well as lesson plans. For example, one lesson plan covered the Hindu and Buddhist religions and was offered from a monastery en route. Even Chicago’s Nature Museum got into the act, creating a Pumori Base Camp reproduction on its premises.
Fundraising and sponsorship was no less a part of this expedition than it is with most Himalayan treks. However, for Everest/Pumori 2000, IBM donated thirty-eight computers and laptops to a Chicago public school, the Cesar Chavez Junior Academy.
As almostEverest had discovered, technical glitches are ever present on these treks. Everest/Pumori 2000 had its share; solar panels that didn't quite provide enough power to run the satellite phone or to recharge batteries caused some of the biggest problems.
Everest/Pumori 2000 planned to be in Nepal for 40 to 45 days, spending at least 20 days at the Everest Base Camp. At the time of the interview, some members were taking some extra rest days. A few members of the team were sick, a common problem on treks there, or they were simply exhausted.
Expedition journal entries and lesson plans are available at the Active Endeavors Web site. You can read another journal, kept by Nature Museum staff and expedition member Emily Conrath, at the Chicago Academy of Sciences Web site.
Mike Jackman is an editor in chief of TechProGuild, an editor of PC Troubleshooter and Windows Support Professional, and also works as a freelance Web designer and consultant. Together with his co-editor in chief David Bard, he traveled to Nepal to report on high-altitude technology and 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.