1. Description of Our Community
The area that Flagstone is situated in is a 30-minute drive South of our state capital, Brisbane. It is in the Beaudesert Shire. The college is situated on the edge of a new residential estate in a semi-rural area. Some residents' families have for generations lived in the country. These families have a lot of experience in fighting bushfires. Other families are new to the bush and bushfires have not been a part of their experience.In this project we define our ‘local community’ as a semi-rural area that needs to be constantly aware of how to prepare to face the threat of bushfires (or wildfires).
2. Summary of Our Project
When our school accepted its first students earlier this year, Australians had just recovered from the bushfires which threatened communities close to Sydney over the Christmas/New Year period. Our local fire fighters had travelled approximately 1000kms to join that fight. We were aware of the hardships they faced and the risks they took and our project aims simply to say "Thank you" to our emergency services, and to raise awareness of how to cope before, during and after bushfires. Raising awareness of the need for bushfire preparedness was a natural topic for us. Our school backs onto native bushland that is tinder dry. The basic preparations we cover in our site are part of the safety precautions of our school. The educational processes involved in our project were as important as our community values. We learned to work in teams, which were involved establishing real connections to with wider community. We learned to cope with disappointments and delays, deadlines, personalities and formalities.
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:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:1
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
Our school’s computers are allocated on an average of 5 computers per classroom. We do not have a computer laboratory yet.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
Flagstone State Community College is a new school with new resources. Our school opened in February 2002, in temporary buildings. Our new school has not been built yet. As a part of the CyberFair competition, computers are a major part of compiling a finished product to present to the judges. We have computers in pods of 5 spread throughout the school, but we do not have a full-size computer laboratory. Our network was still being installed during the first weeks of the project and there were many times when we were frustrated. We do not have image editing software either and few of us were familiar with Frontpage, and the ‘Web Design Team' found themselves rushing around organising fifty things at once. Other groups were also busy inviting community speakers to visit and writing and drafting their information.With just a few weeks to go, we found we had too much information and a lot of it wasn’t always on the topic. Visitors gave us so much information about so many interesting things that it was hard to decide on what to keep and what to file away. This barrier was overcome by the efforts of a special group of students. In our last weeks we drew our school’s best writers to edit and final draft the information for our pages. Our main editors were Eli and Chantelle.Our technical skills were provided mostly by Jack, who made all our banners at home and spent many hours fine-tuning our site. Jack, Eli and Chantelle’s contributions were outstanding. Jack and Eli stayed at school working on our hectic project instead of participating in an inter-schools sporting carnival at Beenleigh.Together we beat the barriers and on the way, learned cooperation, Internet and organisation skills.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Community Development is a scheduled part of our curriculum and CyberFair was our first project. Our school is new, our curriculum is new, and as our first Community Development project CyberFair taught us how to work together and share many challenges.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
Flagstone State Community College aims to provide a safe, tolerant and disciplined environment within which young people prepare to be active and reflective Australian citizens with a disposition for lifelong learning. Our CyberFair project is consistent with those aims. Our project was ideal as an implementation of our school’s integrated curriculum. Students brainstormed the general topic of emergencies. They decided on a number of key areas. Teams were based on those sub-topics, which students then worked with on an elective basis.The teams made their connections to community services. Ambulances were explored, fire trucks were investigated. We learned that the water they use has chemical additives. We learned that the hoses are very heavy. Students got wet! The blue tongue lizard featured on one of our banners came for a visit. We could see that he would have trouble escaping from fire. A carpet snake visited too. Before he was returned to the wild he showed us that when people say these snakes are harmless, they really mean they are non-venomous. He took several strikes at science teacher, Mr Kay (an experienced herpetologist). The ecology of the site where our new school is to be built was investigated as part of our own bushfire preparedness. Participating in the CyberFair project is consistent with the school’s recognition of the importance of technology in achieving student connection with the world beyond the school. We learned that while we are a very new school, we are one which can have a global reach.