1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?
A wide variety of information tools and technologies were used in producing the Minnesnowta: The Winter Wonderland web site. Most tools and technologies used in the web site construction were provided by Independent School District #77. District personnel were available to assist students in their use. Telephones were used to contact people and set up interviews or arrange for class presentations. Video cameras and digital cameras were used by students on their field trip to the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Digitizers and scanners were used to capture historic photos and documents. Students used a wide variety of computer software and programs, such as , Photo Shop, GIF Converter, iMac II movies, Java Script, Java Applets, QuickTime movies, Front Page, and ClarisWorks Home Page 3.0, in building the web site.
The Dakota Meadows Middle School Media Center, the Mankato Free Press, The St. Paul Pioneer Press, the Minneapolis Star and Tribune and local county historical museums provided documents relating to Minnesota winters. Some of these documents were available on line. Access to Minnesota Historical Society photos on-line over the Internet saved an immeasurable amount of time. Local television and radio stations will be present in April when students present the Minnesnowta: The Winter Wonderland web site to the community.
Students recorded interviews with video and audio equipment. These interviews were invaluable in putting a human face on the students' story of Minnesota winters. Moreover, the interviews moved the project beyond technology and moved the students' spirits.
2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.
Our Minnesnowta; The Winter Wonderland project brought together students and experts on various winter subjects. By linking with community members, students received numerous suggestions for ideas to add to the project and leads to other people to seek out for interesting winter topics. Throughout the project, students received strong support from members of the community, peers not involved in the project, teachers not involved in the project, and their families.
As our Minnesnowta: The Winter Wonderland website comes on-line on March 15, 2001, students are just beginning their role as community ambassadors. Students will host an open house in April to present their web site to members of the community and their families. School Board members and school administrators will attend the open house. Parents will be invited to attend. Honored guests will be the community members who shared their knowledge of winter in Minnesota. This event provides an opportunity for local television and print media to run feature stories on the students' work. Finally, our Minnesnowta: A Winter Wonderland web site will serve as a resource to persons around the world who want to know how people live in a cold climate. As such, Dakota Meadows Middle School students will serve as ongoing community ambassadors through the Minnesnowta: The Winter Wonderland web site.
3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?
Our students have provided a user-friendly and informed overview of living in a cold climate for others around the globe who have access to the Internet. More importantly, Dakota Meadows Middle School students in constructing the Minnesnowta: The Winter Wonderland web site serve as a focal point of community pride. The web site provides a concrete demonstration of the skills of our community's young people in the digital age. Other web based projects by Dakota Meadows Middle School students have generated widespread interest from around the world. For example, student projects on mini-mysteries and World War II memories have received comments from around the world. The mini-mystery site is used by English language teachers in Japan and Bosnia as a way to introduce their students to English usage by American adolescents. Local libraries have printed material from our World War II memories page for persons not knowledgeable on computer use. We expect that local interest in the Minnesnowta: The Winter Wonderland web site will be heightened after media coverage of the site's presentation at our open house in April.
Students and teachers believe that the Minnesnowta: The Winter Wonderland web site will continue in the tradition of previous Dakota Meadows Middle School Web sites and generate interest from far and near.
4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?
Larry Barott provided students with a demonstration of curling, explaining the rules and how the game is played. Brad Schultz, Chief Deputy for the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office, introduced students to winter safety with a hands-on demonstration. Steve Kortuem, with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, provided students access to snow plow equipment, to salt sheds, to computer program data on snow drift patterns and living snow fences in Minnesota, and to pictures of transportation challenges presented by snow and ice. The employees of the Champlin Car Wash provided students with pictures and information on the business of cleaning cars in winter. Ed Waltman, Superintendent of Independent School District #77, and Marilyn Shain, head of transportation for the School District, helped students understand the many decisions that go in to deciding if schools in Mankato will be closed due to bad weather. Jan Richards furnished information, and told of her personal experiences, concerning dog sledding. Mrs. Dutler, at Sunset Bowl, provided students with bowling pins to use in their frozen turkey bowling. Bob Olsen, St. Paul Winter Carnival volunteer and historian, made a special presentation to students on St. Paul Winter Carnival ice palaces. Education Minnesota provided space for Mr. Olsen's presentation. John Cross from the Mankato Free Press supplied photographs on winter and his recollections of the scenes in his photos.
Faculty and staff at Dakota Meadows Middles School provided students assistance in completing the project. Sue Krohn acted as our trouble-shooter. Virjean Griensewic provided technical assistance, helped us with a final check of our pages, and loaded them onto the district server. Dakota Meadows teachers graciously agreed to release students in order to conduct interviews within the community.
5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)
As teachers, we learned that Dakota Meadows Middle School eighth grade students can work as a team, under timeline pressures, and produce a quality product with lasting value to the community. We also learned that our eighth grade students have the ability to construct a story about our local environment, culture, tradition, and deliver it electronically. We, as teachers, confirmed what we already knew: when challenged, Dakota Meadows Middle School students can be among the best eight graders anywhere in learning from, and producing for, the digital age.