Letter From DC: Katy Kontgis

Katy Kontgis (see the Dec. 9 article) sent the following “Letter from DC” about her National Geographic internship to her mentors, Keith Clarke, Annemarie Schneider, and Chris Still:

Hello all,

Since you guys provided me with the recommendations that got me this internship, I thought that I would let you know what has been going on since I arrived here in January.

I am working for the Education Foundation here at National Geographic. In particular, I work for the producer of the Xpeditions Web site (www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions), which provides free geography lesson plans to teachers. I was surprised to learn how many teachers actually take advantage of the site and the lessons (about 2.5 million unique visitors a year); it is good to know that kids from kindergarten on are being exposed to geography curriculum that is reviewed and produced by the experts.

So far I have learned quite a bit. In the past I’ve done more science-based work or field work, but most of the work I am doing here is technology related. One of my jobs is to update the homepage, broken links, etc so I have learned basic html language. The producer of the Xpeditions site has a master’s degree in technology and education and has taught me a limited amount about 3-D visualizations and other forms of cutting edge technology that will hopefully one day be used in the classroom.

Since Xpeditions considers large Society projects when creating lesson plans, I work with many different departments, which is exciting and interesting. I have met with the CritterCam designers, who invented the cameras that can be strapped onto animals to learn more about their behaviors (this was the technology used in March of the Penguins for the underwater shots). My supervisor and I are also about to begin a project with NOAA, which I’m especially excited about because I think I’ll have some say in the material covered since I have experience in the subject thanks to the classes offered through the UCSB geography department.

All in all, this has been a wonderful experience so far. The internship is great, and Washington D.C. has a lot to offer, although I do miss the mild Santa Barbara climate. Thanks to you all once again, and I hope all is well out west.

Cheers, Katy

PS: I should mention that I recently found out that I will be contracted here at National Geographic until June, so that I can continue working with my supervisor until her next intern comes, which is exciting news.

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