In a recent conversation crackling with excitement, Ann McCormick said, “This tree really means a lot to a lot of people. Everyone wants to help with this project. It’s just so gratifying.” And thus Ann finds herself in a brand new role — the Pied Piper of the Methuselah Tree Project.
WCF’s Community Grant Project recipient Ann McCormick has been many things in her life including a mom, renowned educator, early creator of some of the first widely-used educational software, and co-founder/CEO of The Learning Company. A long-time King’s Mountain resident, for more than 45 years Ms. McCormick has also nurtured a deep love of the 1,800+ year old redwood tree on Skyline Boulevard known as Methuselah.
It was this passion for the Methuselah Tree that inspired Ann to apply for and win one of the Foundation’s Community Grants this year. For years, Ann has dreamed about using the Methuselah Tree as a focal point for a hands-on educational project designed to teach children in fourth to sixth grade about the history and natural science of the Woodside area. Her vision included the development of a website, eBook and print activity book for children featuring historic events that occurred both around the Methuselah tree locally and more globally. With the Foundation’s recent award of a Community Grant, Ann is now is the midst of making this dream come true and she isn’t doing it alone.
Recruiting assistance from a wide array of talented folks, Ann is knitting this project together through key collaborations, and the force of her infectious enthusiasm, expertise and great ideas. This summer, Seattle University student Jonathan Choe is volunteering his time to help create the structure and content for the Methuselah project website. Ann’s nephew, Spencer Piestrup, a talented web designer, will offer up his time to build the website. Bill Atkinson, a member of the early Apple Macintosh development team and creator of the seminal Apple HyperCard application software, has donated priceless photos of the Methuselah Tree and surrounds. Dr. Mark Roddy, Professor of Science and Math Education at Seattle University (Ann’s alma mater) is lending his expertise to the creation of the hands-on science component. And Ann’s project consultant and co-director, Travis Larson, an 11 year old student at King’s Mountain Elementary School, is serving as an early beta-tester, idea incubator, and “tree math” innovator.
Working on a tight timeline, Ann and her merry band of creators hope to have the project ready for broader beta-testing in November. Stay tuned for more on the Methuselah Project in the coming months.