Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

15.3 Making Presentations With the Computer


15.3: Making Presentations With the Computer

Among the things I enjoy most about belonging to a rock club (okay, I belong to five rock clubs, but that‘s a different story…) are the presentations made by fellow club members. These most often are slide shows of a collecting trip or a trip to a big show like Tucson or Denver, but they also include show-and-tell presentations of a member‘s collection or demonstrations and instructions on a particular lapidary skill.

With the widespread use of digital cameras, these presentations increasingly are being augmented by or given entirely off a computer through a digital projection system which beats the old slide projector in any number of ways. Gone is the whir of the loud fan cooling your bulb, the jammed slide that brings a temporary pause to the presentation, and the occasional upside-down or backward slide, which is especially embarrassing when it turns out all the slides are that way! In addition to avoiding those pitfalls, now you can enhance a presentation by digitally inserting labels or arrows highlighting special features in a particular photo, combining photos for panoramic views, adding PowerPoint slides with brief snippets of animated text or outlines to guide your audience through key points of your talk, and even adding a musical background or just the sound of the wind across the desert.

My own son and daughter were given occasional assignments in high school to create PowerPoint presentations as group homework projects. If you have kids with such abilities and proclivities in your club, encourage them to prepare a PowerPoint presentation or a digital slide show about their favorite rocks, minerals, fossils, or collecting sites using images plucked from the web or from pictures taken with a digital camera. If they have the right equipment and skills, they can even incorporate video clips and/or sound. This works especially well as a group project, with kids converging on the home of the one with the most sophisticated computer equipment and with the more knowledgeable kids sharing computer know-how and savvy with the less knowledgeable (I include myself in the latter category) and with everyone contributing ideas toward producing a final product for presentation at a club meeting.

At a simpler level, encourage kids with digital cameras to take photos on their collecting trips showing the surrounding countryside, the specific locality and any identifying landmarks, and samples of what they found there. They then can pick out the best shots to burn to CDs to copy and share with other kids in the club or to start storing in a club library as a digital archive of collecting localities. See how far your kids‘ computer skills can take them as they apply those skills toward rockhounding. Who knows? You might be providing training for your future club web master!

Note: Kids can use this activity to satisfy requirements toward earning the Communication badge simultaneously (Activity 7.1).