KEEWATIN — The children watched as the wolves ate and drank.
One wolf received some grooming Tuesday morning at the International Wolf Center in Ely, and the students took it all in.
They watched the wolves from the library at Keewatin Elementary though a telepresence link during Learning Academy. Learning Academy is offered at the elementary school through Community Education for students in first through eighth grade.
Telepresence is an interactive video link that allows people at two separate locations to communicate with one another.
It was the first use of the school’s mobile telepresence unit, said Sue Johnson, a Learning Academy teacher.
The students watched as a technology worker established the link with the Wolf Center.
The first image they saw was their own faces staring back at them.
“They were really amazed seeing themselves,” Johnson said.
The students’ images remained on screen as a small box in the lower right-hand corner. They were soon supplanted by images of a Wolf Center educator and the wolves themselves.
The educator ran through a program on fact and fiction about wolves — including comparing real wolf behavior to that found in folk stories.
The first through eighth grade students did research activities Monday in preparation for the presentation, Johnson said.
Principal Peter Hardy praised the program’s use of the telepresence device.
The opportunities are endless with the device, Hardy said, adding that he’s planning to develop a number of virtual field trips in the coming school year including connections with the Smithsonian and Tyrrell museums.
“With our system we plan to open up new opportunities to connect our rural students with the rest of the world,” he said. “… We want our students to have the chance to go anywhere and see anything. Specifically, with this device, students could speak to experts, organizations, museums, government agencies, ect. — all without having to leave the building.”