1. Description of Our Community
Lewiston is an urban community in the heart of central Maine. It is the second largest city with a population of approximately 36,830. The city covers an area of 35 square miles. Lewiston residents enjoy four seasons. The average January temperature is 19 °F and the average July temperature is 79 °F The first frost is expected around mid-October and the last frost is usually in mid-May. This makes for a long winter. Over the last century Lewiston has undergone many changes, growing from a small community into a bustling industrial community. With the decline of the textile industry, beginning in the 1960's, Lewiston suffered a decline of prosperity. Today, Lewiston is once again growing. New businesses are renovating the large mills that were built during the peak of the industrial revolution, helping Lewiston regain a strong economy while maintaining its historical landmarks. Other businesses are building new facilities on the outskirts of the city near highway access. These new companies small and large have a varied clientele that spread within the community area and expands to a global level.
2. Summary of Our Project
Our CyberFair 2002 entry, Mainely Our Own Local Specialties, was created to enrich the curriculum on our local community, Lewiston. All third graders of Lewiston, Maine must complete a unit of studies that focuses on the community. There is very little written information in this curriculum unit. Mrs. Letourneau's goal was to generate information that could be utilized by all six elementary schools within the Lewiston School System. Our project began with a scavenger hunt. Students each had 6 clues. They searched for examples of architecture, historical sites, local enterprises who donated to the poor, etc. The materials brought into class created a Lewiston collage. Using newspaper advertisements and telephone book students identified businesses that manufactured products locally and sold these goods throughout the nation. Some of theses were already on the collage other were not. Each student selected a local business to further gather information. Students arranged for interview, wrote questions, visited local businesses, and used this information to create the Local Specialties web page. The Sun Journal featured Letourneau's students technological achievement in a series of articles about technology in education. This publicity helped students acquire appointments for interviews.
A local entrepreneur and staff member, Mrs. Libby was a guess speaker. She brought in pictures, samples, and magazine articles in which her business was featured. Mrs. Libby discussed the steps that lead her to venture into the candy business. Students learned how business began, how they evolve to include special products, and how they can fulfill personal goals. The result was a wonderful addition to the Our Home Lewiston, the Your Home, Our Home, Lewiston, and Celebrating Heritage web-pages used by all third graders in their Lewiston. The CyberFair Project allowed us to continue learning about our community while fulfilling a need for written information about our community.
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:21-50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:4-6
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dial-up modem
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:2-3
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
Currently, our school computers range from donated PC's operating on Win 3.11 to newer computers operating on Win/NT. We have no computer lab and limited networked software which consists of Apple Works, Front Page Express, and The Ultimate Writing and Creativity Center.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
In May 2000 Martel School was closed due to asbestos contamination. Software and some computer hardware were discarded during the asbestos abatement process. During summer vacation of 2001 Mrs. Letourneau’s new scanner, color printer, and cables were stolen. After a year of replacing asbestos abatement losses, the thief of these items was a great disappointment. The inconvenience of missing wires that connected the zip drive added frustration to the situation. Mr. Whitfield, Martel’s principal was able to replace the scanner and printer. Iomega generously donated replacement wires for the stolen wires. Mr. Julias, the Technology Administrator, provided the class with a new computer that enabled the students to use the Epson digital camera previously received from CyperFair 2000Competition. The worse problem occurred in late February. Many students had completed their web page and were in the process of having the local business owner or manager review the completed web page for accuracy. One local business never returned the manager disclosure form after several attempts. A second local business requested that the students web page not be published. The owners preferred to remain "low keyed" and out of "global eyes". Owners praised the students’ page for content, accuracy, and writing style. This was disheartening mainly because this particular business was the main focus of our entire web page. This local business is the most generous to local school functions, food banks, as well as having given a very generous amount to the New York Fire Department after September 11, 2001. The class discussed the need for honoring the request. This also led to a discussion about the meaning of an "anonymous gift". This was a set back but a valuable lesson in itself. The web page changes were made and no links were created for those two local establishments
5. Our Project Sound Bite
5. Student comments: 6. "My older brother in high school didn't believe that I wrote HTML! Best of all he can't." 7. 8. "Geiger Bros laid out a red carpet just for me to walk on like a supper star when I went to interview Mr. Geiger." 9. "Shoes, shoes, more shoes over 500 in one place!" 10. "Making the web-site was really really fun hard work!" 11. The manager said I "was very brave to interview" and that made me very proud of myself. 12. I've never been in a factory before and I had to wear safety goggles that I got to keep. 13. Parents: 14. "I am amazed at how much my family has discovered about Lewiston. 15. Local Businessmen: 16. Manager of Falcon Rule marveled that such youngsters were "Mastering life learning skills at such a young age. Wow I wish I were back in school"
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
The State of Maine's Learning Results require that all-third grade students develop historical knowledge of their local community (Lewiston). The CyberFair project provided an interesting and motivating way to cover the existing curriculum requirements in Social Studies, English Language Arts, Visual and Performing Arts, as well as Science and Technology. The project extended well beyond the required curriculum standards. It included developing communication skills, organizing photos with text: editing: writing: designing: and publishing skills: computer skills: keyboarding: scanning: creating animated graphics: cutting and pasting. These skills were necessary for students to create their web page. In fact it would be very lengthy to list all the specific content areas, standards, and performance indicators listed in the State of Maine Learning Results. The most exciting aspect of this project was that students practiced and mastered so many skills while enjoying themselves. The idea of restating in their own words was very difficult for these eight-and-nine year old students. For eight-and-nine year old students copying verbatim was writing their own work. Learning about plagiarism and giving correct references was a new concept. This was a wonderful learning experience disguised as pure pleasure.