CyberFair Project ID: 2409

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Oak Park's Environmental Problems
Category: 7. Environmental Awareness
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Percy Julian Middle School
    Oak Park, IL, USA

4 students, ages 12-14 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 21, 2003. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2003

Classes and Teachers: Janet Barnstable

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Oak Park is a small, quiet community in the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. This village is known for its social, political, econimic, and religious diversity and for its beautiful trees. Oak Park is, however, struggling with environmental issues.

2. Summary of Our Project

Oak Park, like every urban community has many things affecting the environment. Some of these are beyond local control, some are not. We believe that an informed and educated community can solve some of the environmental problems facing our village.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:more than 6

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

Access is through our local cable company. All 4 students also have home access.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

Since students are in a technology class that deals with web development, the greatest challenge was to get them to concentrate on content, rather than design. The final solution was to give them a content deadline (tied to course grade) and tell them nothing else would count. Then let them add the design elements.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

An individual who cares is an magnet for more individuals, who bring together the community, and the world. These students have learned that and will continue to be active members of their community as they have already been catalysts within their own school.

6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

This project perfectly fits our course goals and State of Illinois goals. The goals are listed here: We have also discovered that the principal is open to new ideas and willing to support students who have a well thought out plan of how to make improvements for the betterment of the community.

Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?

Participants worked during their Virtual Classroom course which meets in the Tech Lab, which has 24 iMac computers (and 20 other students working on various projects.) In addition to the computers, this project used the digital video camera when interviewing the Village representative, a digital still camera for local snapshots, the phone to arrange for interviews, and the local newspapers' coverage of Barrie Park. All equipment belongs to the school, but the girls also used home phones, when the timing didn't work at school. Most helpful was the video taped interview which could be replayed as needed to clarify the Village perspective.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

Students contacted Village government as well as the newspapers. They used the phone and personal interviews, preparing themselves ahead of time by 'writing scripts' so they didn't sound foolish. Community comments have been very positive, particularly noting the maturity of the students and their ease at talking with persons in authority. (If they only knew about the butterflies.) They have commended the students for their active role in postive change within their community.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

These girls have been interested in the quality of the environment in Oak Park for several years and have been active in contacts with the Village. Through their efforts, recycling - which is very important to the residents of Oak Park - will again resume in our school. It is at times like this that we adults admire our young people

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

Two of our biggest were helpers Oak Park Department of Public Works employees Karen Rozmus, solid waste coordinator and Jim Semelka, supervisor of the forestry department. We also received assistance and support from our principal, Dr. Victoria Sharts, critical editing of our text by the District's Instructional Tech Leader, Harla Hutchinson, who was very helpful in finding little errors that the computer must have made as we typed. :-)

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Because of time constraints that have nothing to do with CyberFair, we were not able to begin working on this until after the New Year, and then only for approximatly 40 minutes a day. However, with a dedicated group of students a vast amount of work was accomplished efficiently. These students also discovered what a great asset it can be to use email for contacts that otherwise could take a longer time -- including their teacher - who was asked via email to come in early the next day and leave them a pass at the door so they could come to work! (Of course I did.)


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 2409)

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