1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?
In the process of recording the experience, students learnt new skills in multimedia production, word processing, online publishing, internet skills and use of peripherals. Specifically, students made use of:
LaserJet and bubblejet printers flatbed scanners digital still cameras LCD projector computer software tools including ClarisWorks 5.0, Netscape Communicator, MGI Photosuite, Graphic Converter and Microsoft Image Composer web-based email our class and school websites Internet search engines on the world wide web current newspapers including the Gold Coast Bulletin and the Gold Coast/Robina Sun cassette tape recorder face to face interviews of business people, safety and protection officers and representatives of community groups brochures and posters provided by our local Councillor and the Administrative Officer of the Chamber of Commerce enormous aerial photographs of the Robina area which were specially printed and labelled for our project by the Gold Coast City Council. The printing of these photographs was completed by EMIS division. publications including 'Gold Coast Innovation City'from the Gold Coast City Council and various promotional materials from the businesses visited Apart from the class and lab computers themselves, the digital cameras have proven to be indispensable items.
2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.
Students and parents took great pride in promoting the project to all participating interviewees. Business people were both impressed and charmed by their young interviewers. Several of the students made such an impression that they returned to the class with gifts of icecreams, lollies, caps, toys and pens. In one instance there was cause for concern when, after an hour and a half, the group visiting the local McDonald’s restaurant had not returned from what should have been a thirty minute interview at most! A call on the mobile phone revealed that their car had not broken down as was feared but that the group had been given the full educational tour of McDonald’s including the kitchens and cold room. A playback of their digital photographs also revealed the students enjoying complementary Happy Meals!
The project was publicised in our class website subsequently viewed by parents and grandparents as far away as Denmark. The website provided progress reports, samples of student work and a link to the CyberFair site.
Our Cyberfair project gained wider community exposure through a news item and photograph published in the Gold Coast Bulletin newspaper, circulating to over 200 000 readers.
The project was also promoted to our visiting speakers from the Chamber of Commerce, Local Council and the Queensland Police.
Since being the subject of our first interview, our new School Principal has maintained a keen interest in the project and has further publicised it to other staff and the parent community through the school newsletter.
Students plan to officially launch our completed entry later in the term and will be inviting all contributors to our project to attend and join us for a morning tea.
3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?
The Robina State School has over 900 students from many families and therefore provides a ready audience for our promotion of local businesses and organisations. Through the internet, students and their families have access to the information provided on our website. The site provides worthwhile advertising for the services it showcases.
The students have in turn promoted the work and reputation of their school to the wider community. Robina State School enjoys a reputation for excellence in learning technology which is further enhanced by its participation in the high profile CyberFair competition.
Parents are impressed with their children’s attitudes to what they are doing at school and have given positive feedback. They now have direct access to examples of their children’s work and are able to view pictorial records of the visits.
Our website highlights the wider community by providing information about the Gold Coast. While the Gold Coast is already a world renowned tourist destination, it is intended that the website will further showcase Robina and the Gold Coast to the rest of the world. The link to the school website also helps to spread our ideas and activities to schools throughout the world.
It is hoped that other schools will follow our example and attempt similar projects.
4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?
This project could not have succeeded without the generous support of our parent volunteers. The volume of phone calls, transport and supervision was capably handled by a dedicated, coordinated team of mothers and fathers acting on short notice and the direction of teachers they had only just met days earlier. One father took the excellent photograph that forms the background of our homepage and donated his time and professional expertise.
The business people of Robina, in agreeing to be interviewed, generously gave of their precious time to patiently address the children.
The Gold Coast City Council provided us with two magnificent aerial photographs and other information about the development of Robina. Margaret Huber of the Robina Chamber of Commerce visited the class and shared her vast knowledge of the business community and its infrastructure in language that made sense to her young audience.
We are grateful to all our helpers for their generous support of our project and offer them our heartfelt thanks.
5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)
Students and parents reported several unexpected learning episodes throughout the course of the project. Some were quite quirky revelations such as the fact that the Robina train has two horns - one for urban areas and another for rural areas that is less startling for cattle. For many of our parent volunteers there was increased awareness of the range and location of services in Robina.
Parent helpers also gained some insights into the complexities of creating a website, gaining a deeper appreciation of the skills that their children were developing. Parents also picked up some web publishing skills of their own remarking on how different the classrooms of today have become.
One of the more striking effects of the project was the boost in self confidence that the children experienced. Children who were at first reluctant speakers warmed to the task and became polished interviewers or spontaneous deliverers of thank-you speeches. Other students who had previously shown little interest in learning technology became keen users after being surprised by the quality of the work they were able to produce.
For the teachers, discovering the capabilities of the students was both motivating and rewarding, as was the opportunity to work closely with such a dynamic group of parents. To be participating in an event of such global magnitude is quite a breathtaking experience. Timed as it is at the beginning of the school year, the CyberFair project will no doubt prove to be a powerful teambuilding and bonding experience from which students, parents and teachers of Year 5MB can draw confidence throughout the year to come.
After barely surviving the stresses of the 2000 CyberFair competition entry, both teachers thought they had learnt their lesson never to attempt anything so ambitious again - fortunately that was one lesson not learnt well enough!