NESTLED AWAY IN CENTRAL Florida at one of the world's most popular tourist attractions is something very dear to each of us. Would it surprise you to know that our Color Computer is inside Walt Disney's EPCOT Communicore Teacher Center? I must admit I was pleasantly surprised to learn this. My curiosity compelled me to investigate further, and I ultimately discovered a teacher's technology paradise. If technology is what inspired you to become a computer fanatic — then have I got some stories for you.
At times I think we educators can't see the forest for the trees. We read article upon article, book upon book, all telling how to use computers or how easy it is to learn to program. Better yet, we need the sales pitch which scares half of us into fearing our children will fail the SAT exams if we don't rush out and buy them a computer. Threats aside, what does the computer mean to our future? What may happen to our society that is "good" because of computers? Future World provides an answer to these questions.
Future World is run by a Disney World computer that performs 72,000 functions per second. The imagination that went into its creation is outstanding. To quote David Brinkley, "It is the most imaginative and effective piece of urban planning in America, and this is totally aside from the Mickey Mouse park area itself." If this is where the computer age will lead us, get me a ticket. From making dinner reservations on a telephone that lets you see who you are talking to (yes, be careful of your facial expressions) to the solar powered toys in the gift shop, technology is everywhere. Observed from the context of Future World, computers could stimulate critical thinking skills: a task that should never leave our schools.
Walt Disney's original dream for EPCOT called for it to be a laboratory where creative experiments in applied technology are encouraged. In a sense EPCOT is meant to become a "living blueprint" for the future. Before I discuss the Teacher Center, let's take a short trip through Future World. Caution! Words cannot adequately describe the sights. Future World is an indescribable educational fantasy trip. It can make learning fun, a Disney educational goal since it began marketing educational products.
Future World is currently composed of seven major exhibits; Spaceship Earth, Communicore, Universe of Energy, Horizons, World of Motion, Journey Into Imagination, and The Land. A quick tip: if what I say interests you, and you tour the exhibits and want to use your new-found knowledge in your classroom, a method exists. Classroom guide lesson plans for the exhibits have been written by the Disney staff (wait 'til we get to the Teacher Center).