1. Description of Our Team
Our team included Praveen S. (16), Emily B. (16), Mary P.T. (16), and Harin S. (16), all members of the same history class taught by Mr. Del Rio. Harin heard about the project through Shelley Lyford,the program officer for WorldLink – a program that promotes international awareness and youth participation in world affairs. Harin, Mary, and Emily had been leaders in their school’s Model United Nations (MUN) program for several years, so they were well-versed in the workings of diplomacy and foreign affairs. The addition of Praveen’s technical proficiency and knowledge of web design led the four to team up and create a website that would teach other students about the role of the United Nations Security Council in resolving, exacerbating, or simply discussing past international crises. Mr. del Rio gave them ideas on which crises to write the simulations for and provided them with some resources. The students also did their own research at the library and on the Internet. Emily wrote about the Kosovo conflict and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Mary wrote about the Nicaragua crisis and the Korean War. Harin wrote about the Iran-Bahrain affair and the Suez Canal Crisis. Praveen designed and created the web pages, as well as worked with the team on the project narrative. The four students did their tasks mostly through independent work, but they also gave each other feedback. Especially in the last stages of the project, they kept each other constantly updated on their work and collaborated to make final revisions and touch-ups on the website.
2. Summary of Our Project
The main concept of the website is to simulate the Security Council discussions on past historical crisis and convey how a debate on such a crisis would have played out. Students can read the policy statements and responses of involved countries in past diplomatic crises, and then use the knowledge they gain about past foreign policy initiatives in the interactive Security Council Forum. The forum provides students the opportunity to represent different countries in a variety of hypothetical crises and use diplomacy as a tool to resolve international crises. The team first brainstormed ideas for the categories and decided to focus on the United Nations Security Council. Last year, the four had participated in a class Security Council simulation to address the instability and lack of security in Iraq. After a successful simulation, Mr. del Rio suggested the idea of holding Security Council simulations set in past historical contexts to help students understand different countries’ policies and interactions during major international events. The students found this idea very appealing and decided to apply it to the category “History of Foreign Relations.” They would pick six major past events in world history, research what the relevant countries said on the issue, and explain how the Security Council was involved in those crises. After doing sufficient research and writing up the simulations, the three worked with Praveen to create the web pages detailing past foreign policy initiatives. Then Praveen constructed an interactive forum in which website visitors could post their own thoughts on hypothetical crises as representatives of different countries. Thus, students could practice their diplomatic skills by attempting to resolve an international crisis. The project creators formulated the hypothetical crises by considering the current status of relations between nations and then pondering what crises could resolve from the situations in reality.
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:1
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dial-up modem
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):
Home PCs of team members were used to conduct research, create the website, edit images, and upload information, as minimal time and resources were available at school. The majority of the website was created from hand-made computer templates, using Microsoft FrontPage and Notepad as html editors. The forum was created using phpBB, an open-source forum frame, and modified using PHP. All image editing was conducted in Adobe Photoshop CS, the industry-leading software for graphic editing and manipulation. The entire website is hosted on server space belonging to one of the team members on a remote corporate server.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
The hardest aspect of the project was discerning what each country would have said in regards to the past historical crisis. What justification did North Korea provide for invading South Korea? What criticism did the United States give on French and British military action in Egypt during the Suez Canal Crisis? Although the students found some policy descriptions for past historical incidents on the United Nations Crisis, they found few exact statements that countries made on the crises. So they had to think of what each country would have said by studying their actions during the crisis, their past decisions, and current policies.
Some of the technical problems we encountered included internet and network downtime at the house of one teammate during a group working session very close to the deadline. Furthermore, since this team member did not have Adobe Photoshop on her home system, images could not be edited with all team members present at that time, so much of the communication took place via internet communication towards the end of the project.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Through participating in this project, the students have acquired in-depth knowledge about six major international crises in the past and how different countries in the Security Council responded to the incidents. They have learned to analyze various sources (Security Council resolutions, encyclopedia articles, United Nations press releases, history books, and more) and use them to determine countries' policies on different issues.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
Our group's work to create A Study of Security Council Diplomacy incorporated skills found in the California Board of Education's Content Standards for many of our classes. The contents standards that we accomplished, while creating our website include:
English, Reading: 2.1, 2.3, 2.6, 3.8; Writing: 1.0, 1.2, 1.5, 1.6, 1.8, 2.1, 2.6, History-Social Science: 11.4.6, 11.9.1, 11.9.2, 11.9.3, 11.9.5, 11.9.6, Science: Investigation and Experimentation: 1a, Visual and Performing Arts: Theatre: 3.1, 5.1, 5.3
Each of the four members of our group is in the same English and history classes and in those classes alone we have been able to apply this project in many ways. For example, when we analyzed resolutions and documents to extract countries' policies we were practicing our ability to analyze and subsequently write about what we had learned. In addition, we can apply much of the knowledge of the crises, which the United States was involved in, and the foreign policy position that the United States took in our United States history course.
In addition, the policy statements in our project was an application of the skills learned in theatre, where we learn how to take what we read and study and put it into the words and viewpoint of someone else. In addition, this is part of our English standards because we had to establish a change in point of view for each country. Finally, it was an application of our own schools Expected Scholastic Learning Requirement Standards in that we had to appreciate other's cultures.
Finally, to design the website required technological and aesthetic skills, both of which are needed in many of our classes.