1. Description of Our Team
Uppili, 16, decided to get involved in one of the school’s computer projects. He chose Doors To Diplomacy over Global Virtual Classroom and Cyber Fair, since diplomacy and international relations appealed a lot to him. He got together his friends, Debankur, 15, Gokul, 16 and Swastik, 16 to constitute a highly motivated team. All these team members were genuinely interested in doing something tremendous, on an international level. Mr. David Hellam, Head of the IT Department in the school, acted as the adult coach, providing assistance when needed. At the beginning of the project, each member was assigned a role, with Debankur as the Designer, Swastik as the data compiler and editor, Gokul as the data collecter and researcher and finally Uppili as the Programmer and coder. Over time, there was overlap in the work done by each, which led to each member becoming a flexible and versatile machine alone and together as a group. Towards the end of the project Debankur had obtained and tweaked the site’s template and created the huge timeline. Swastik put in tremendous amounts of work towards the deadline to ensure that the research material was useful. Gokul generated colossal amounts of research material for the poor editor to sift through. He managed to lose all the initial research material (because he did not have a backup)and repeat it to produce even better data! Uppili was supposed to be the coder, but being very much into developments in space, was himself a source of some of the data. He edited the timeline and filled up some sections of the website with his own knowledge. He kept the team working towards high targets and integrated their efforts. Mr. Hellam provided any technical know-how necessary, even setting up the forum for us. He kept things under check and made sure we knew what was required of the project.
2. Summary of Our Project
What we aimed to achieve at the end of the project was a complete and functional website that would act as a comprehensive resource to educate and inform about the enormous benefits of space exploration to mankind, to impress upon the reader the importance of collaboration on an international level for ambitious space programs to succeed and to provide a place to discuss matters related to the same topics on a forum. We aim to keep this site working even after the Doors to Diplomacy contest is complete for 2006-2007. Sometime down the lane of the future, we hope to initiate a regular and frequent newsletter that will inform subscribers of developments in the Aerospace industry and the efforts of all the national agencies involved. It is also hoped that we may provide media in the form of video footage and sound clippings to viewers. Another important target of our website is to convince the reader of the benefits of space exploration as compared to it being militarily exploited and weaponised. We believe that this would be the worst thing that could happen to mankind. Finally, we would like to give credit and pay our humble homage to all those geniuses, pioneers and dare-devils who are the reason mankind knows whatever he does about himself. We would like to take our hats off to their efforts that resulted in mankind progressing from ignorance to knowledge to practical success. At the start of the project, we aimed to base the project on the efforts of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and how India is emerging as a space power. But later, we decided that this would not do justice to all the other nations contributing to global progress. We switched over to an international viewpoint of everything, along with some emphasis on each nation’s contributions.
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):
3 of our members did not have an active Internet connection for almost a month due to various reasons. The member who did have Internet access from home was dependant on the other three for various materials and so progress was effectively paralyzed. The school also had problems with their Internet connection due to over-congestion of internet connections in the block. The ISP was changed, but they had to rely on Dial-Up connections for the whole facility! This caused a lot of problems and so we suffered a serious time deficit that we just barely managed to compensate.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
One of the major difficulties we faced was the acute time shortage. This was mainly brought about due to the demands the school places on each student’s school life. Uppili had to sit the first modular exams for his A-levels. Swastik and Gokul had to write Internal examinations. These were more important than previous ones since their grades from this play a pivotal role in the award they receive on graduation into the Sixth Form. Debankur, had to do a lot of work to cope with the increased rigor of entering High School and taking the IGCSE course. We each toiled tirelessly, day and night to make up the time we had lost. Another problem we faced was the Internet connection issue. Please read what has been said in the Internet Access section. This, in addition to the first obstacle both cut short the time we had to complete the project. Kuwait itself is not a very large country, but travelling from one edge to the other to meet up with team-mates takes quite some time and so we could not do so. We had to work independently or during breaks at school. We were able to deliver what was needed, working from home itself. The next difficulty was somewhat ambiguous. Kuwait being a small country does not need a space agency, nor does it have one. We could not interview professionals and space experts whose inputs would have been very valuable. If there were any, we would have asked them about how space related research has progressed and where they feel it is headed and so on. We handled this by compiling the massive timeline, which carried out the same function, of shedding light on the past of global space efforts. In the early stages of the project, we were forced to depend on atleast one other member. This was a severe handicap. But, we managed to effectively tackle this by ending specialization and diversifying. Everybody did everybody else’ work to a high, yet consistent standard and this is the one and only reason the project made it through. This was beyond any doubt, the team’s most powerful and greatest asset.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Usually, our school only announces successes and near-successes in projects undertaken by students. As a result, the majority of our school has no idea that such a project exists. We hope that we succeed in this dynamic endeavor, inspiring and motivating many others around us to take part in this brilliant opportunity to learn about ourselves, about team-mates and about the world we are part of. And also inform them that such a great global initiative exists. We are confident and sure that such a success would greatly increase participation from our school, community and the nation we reside in.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
GCE A-Level Applied ICT and Information Technology IGCSE courses actively involve web desgin and research activities. This project offered us some practice and experience with this.