1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?
Being constructed as a web page, the result of our project makes use of many tools and technologies that allowed us to build the web page. Anyway, the main focus of our project was not just building a web site. We also have a great interest in the content that was published, and hope that it will have a great impact on our visitors. As a consequence, we made use of numerous books, newspapers and website articles that we could find. A detailed list of those articles may be found in our biography section, but we could also mention the NASA space magazine as a source that helped us in forming an overall image about the possible future of the space exploration.
The building of our project was done on numerous workstations connected to the internet, at home and at school, so we choused to place all our work on a local server, and use the CVS version control system, that allowed us to work in the same time on different parts of the project, without being afraid that we would change what someone else just did, and that everyone has access to the latest version of the project. Although we place great emphasis on direct communication, we also had about 4 teleconferencing sessions, at times when a 'real' meeting was not possible. So, we made sure that we stay in touch at all times, taking all decisions with everybody’s' agreement. Each one of us has at home a computer connected to internet, and we also used two laptops with webcams. For some of our project's media elements we made use of a digital handy cam, as well as two scanners (for printed images). As for computer software, we used the trial versions of the professional tools from Macromedia and Adobe (Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, and Photoshop), with which we were familiar from other projects. Anyway, we also used advanced freely available technologies for delivering our user database-oriented elements (the dictionary search): php, mysql, and the apache web server. Various instant messaging and teleconferencing software was used to meet our communication needs over the internet.
2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.
Although we had very little time to promote our site in our community and worldwide, the feedback we got from our colleagues, as well as from various visitors, was highly positive, and encouraged us to think that we could make a difference in helping people realize that we can find things (and space exploration is one of them) that can bring us together, and that those are more important than the differences that separate us. By doing this, we fully assumed an ambassador role, promoting new ideas, contributing to the education process, or differently said, rising the peoples awareness to the world around them. Besides the actual data and information the project includes, an important part of it is the forum on which each visitor can express his/hers opinions, or share their own knowledge to the community. This is the way we understand to keep this site actual, and continue to bring people together, creating a place for them to develop as members of the community.
We are very enthusiastic about us being able to help others in all ways that is possible. Future plans include developing a monthly electronic newsletter, where people that write articles on the forum may publish them beside articles from professionals in the field, and make them available to all our visitors. Of course, we remain opened to new ideas and we will try to apply the ones that we find best.
3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?
It was a really great sensation when the first users visited our site and wrote their opinions about both our web site design and its content. Their thoughts helped us in realizing that we had achieved our goal of bringing Space closer to its inhabitants, thus making its discovery and understanding more straightforwardly. We had the opportunity of showing our web site and the ideas it holds to our teachers in a short presentation at school. Although most of them were doubtful about the presentation, they were awed by it, asking questions and promising to later on talk about it in their classes.
Our families were probably the project’s biggest fans, always trying to help us, mostly giving us moral advices (because they are not keen on technology as we are). Although it is little in comparison with their help, we would like to thank them for their support and understanding.
We want our site to become a benchmark both by its content and by its design, providing up-to-date information for those who wish to learn more about this issue. Our web site includes a forum open for everyone who wishes to express itself about Space issues (like colonization, space travel and thoughts about the past and the future of space).
4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?
Many people shared with us their knowledge to make this project reach its current form. We would like to warmly thank them for all their pieces of advice. Despite the fact that some of our team members have experience in building and designing complex websites, (and therefore did not require much help in building the web pages), we found very useful the ideas of our coach, Ms. Lucia Miron (computer science teacher), as well as her continuous moral support. We would like to thank her very much, and we would also like to thank our physics teacher for the scientific guidance she offered (with our content we also extend the physics school curriculum).
A big thanks goes to people at NASA for allowing us to use some images from their huge image database along with detailed descriptions. This is also true for space.com, who accepted us to use some of their images. However, the list does not end here! We should not forget that our aim is creating a community oriented towards mutual acceptance. Therefore, we also thank everybody that submitted entries on the forum or suggested us how we could make the site better. They are the ones that could really set things in motion.
Finally, we would also like to thank our families for the great support they offered us in completing this project. Without them we don't think we could have managed.
5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)
As I have said before, probably the most exciting and interesting discovery we made was the great impact and feedback we got from the ones who visited the web site, from our families to the most severe critics, our teachers and people who don’t have any interest in this subject. This contest has also provided us with the opportunity of expressing our thoughts on this wonderful and vast subject to others across the world, being able to receive answers and thoughts that can solve some of our questions.
We also found a great deal of information about space on the web sites mentioned in the biography page, and mainly NASA.gov and space.com. This shows the great power of the Internet, and its impact on all communities around the world.
We hope that our web site will stay online as long as possible to provide additional information for people interested in space discovery and the future of space, hoping that these ideas will be of use for future generations to come.