1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?
We used 6 IBM computers in our Social Studies classroom to research the rapid development of wetlands and the loss of animal habitat. Multiple sources of information included the Somers Point Environmental Commission Survey (provided by a councilwoman) and the local newspaper website. Our research identified species, including Diamondback Terrapins, that need the wetlands habitat. We used the Internet website TerraServer to view satellite images of the region. We researched community development by comparing satellite images taken in 1988 to satellite images taken in 1996. We used the US Census website to discover the increase in population and the need for additional housing. Students interviewed parents and community members to discover taxpayers' opinions regarding the need to lower taxes. Students used websites at Pressplus.com, US Census Bureau, and Realtor.com to gather data about the community's median tax bill and tax rates. Students discovered a point of view that permitting new development on wetlands might increase tax ratables and lower each resident's tax bill. Internet research (www.earthwatch.org) reveals this local viewpoint is replicated globally. Student inquiry resulted in discovering their wetlands environment is challenged by the need of their community to develop. Students developed an awareness that development threatens the habitat of animals. We received a $600 grant from the Jordan Road Parents Group for supplies. Students email project updates to the Parents Group.Students have maintained and extended our Terrapin Troubles website, located at http://www.angelfire.com/nj/jordanroad/FIRST.html. They use Microsoft FrontPage for webpage editing, a Sony digital camera to take photos and videos, and Adobe PhotoShop for editing. The website construction activity is open-ended. It will continue to be extended and updated by student volunteers.
2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.
The 7th grade students periodically invited students from K-2 grades to view the terrapin hatchlings. The 7th graders explain the reasons why wetlands species are threatened and describe their action plan. Self-esteem is enhanced as our students assume the roles of environmental activists and positive role models for the younger students. The success of this portion of the project is evidenced by the patience and care shown by the 7th graders as they work with younger students. Offering students the opportunity to work with younger students is easily replicated. The benefits are obvious when we view the photographic record. (photos available at www.angelfire.com/nj/jordanroad/terrapins02primary.html) The project was extended with a $600 grant from the Jordan Road School Parents Group. Students participated in field trips to the Marine Science Lab at R. Stockton College. Marine Science researchers, Dr. Rosalind Herlands and John Rokita, offered students the opportunity to participate in real and meaningful research. Students use email to continue their collaboration with researchers at R. Stockton College. (Photos, email, and anecdotes at www.angelfire.com/nj/ jordanroad/terrapins02stockton.html) Students plan to meet Dr. Roger Wood and Dr. Rosalind Herlands in June 2002 to release the terrapins. They will be provided the opportunity during the release to interact with researchers and college interns from other countries; such as, Vietnam and Indonesia.
3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?
We hope our project will make people aware that young teens do care and can make a difference through individual action. We have achieved this goal through the use of our website and email. Local college interns and professors have viewed our site and offered scientific advise about terrapins.(see email samples). Our home-school community has improved because parents can view classroom activities and offer support. Our community's webmaster has put a link to our site. Our international email partners have shared their stories and shown interest in our wetlands animals. We feel we have made a significant achievement by making people aware that densely populated areas like New Jersey still offer an opportunity to improve the environment.
4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?
Dr. Roger Wood and Dr. Rosalind Herlands at Richard Stockton College. Thank you for sharing your vision with us. The College Interns who save terrapin eggs. They have proven their courage facing gnats and curious 7th graders during terrapin releases. Mrs. Liz Crocos of the Birkdale South State School, Queensland, Australia for her continued reliability and patience working out our differences in school calendars and time zones. We loved your story about making road signs to save koalas. Mr. Rudy Reed, firstname.lastname@example.org, of the Lahainaluni High School, Maui, Hawaii. We appreciate your students showing concern for our little turtles when you have such beautiful and rare seaturtles. Mrs. Lynch, FCS teacher, for you advice and support during our chocolate terrapin fundraiser efforts. Mr. Ragan, 7th Grade Science, for your collaboration and initiative in joining our cross-curriculum project. 7th grade webpage designers, photographers, and reporters for your assistance in the creation of our Terrapin Troubles website. Mr. Miller, Principal, and Ms. Meagher, Supervisor of Instruction, for taking the time from their busy schedules to offer enthusiastic support. Thanks for allowing release time and providing the necessary substitute teachers. Support staff (custodians, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, secretaries) for your patience and advice. Ms. Arleth, former city council member, for providing environmental commission surveys. The staff of the Atlantic County ETTC for technical advice and cameras. The Jordan Road School Parents' Group for their financial support and encouragement.
5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)
We were very surprised to learn that students in faraway and exciting places like Australia and Hawaii showed concern about our little terrapin hatchlings. We think their koalas and sea turtles are very exciting and exotic. It was great to discover people around the world care about little animals in the muddy wetlands too! We discovered the adults in our local community were willing to save animal habitat even if it might mean spending more on taxes. This surprised us because we often hear complaints about the smelly marsh at low tide. People in our town don't like the mosquitoes and greenheads that come from the wetlands but they said they wanted to save the habitat for animals like our terrapins. We hope to spread the news of our action plan to surrounding communities when we release the terrapins. Reporters from our local newspapers are interested in our story. Communicating our story will help people become aware that our young hands really do make a difference. We care about our environment and its animals!