1. Description of Our Team
Hi. We’re the GM Crops team from Ogilvie High School in Tasmania, Australia. We’d like to introduce ourselves.
Liz (15) is a calm, hardworking person. She is the youngest of a family of four children. Liz is interested in reading, art, music and science. She plays the flute. Liz has taken on the role of group secretary.
Zara (15) at first seems quiet, but holds strong opinions. Zara is patient and expresses herself very tactfully. She enjoys working in small groups. Zara is the middle child in her family of three girls. She plays the violin and is excellent at dancing and gymnastics. Zara has completed much of the drafting of the content of the GM Crops site.
Sasha-lee is the most experienced computer person in the group. She has been creating websites and computer games since eighth grade. Sasha-lee (15) is vivacious and happy. She is the eldest in her family, having two younger sisters. Sasha-lee loves basketball and volleyball. She won a medal at the Australian National Titration Competition.
All group members are well-organised, ambitious, determined people who don't mind taking risks. We describe ourselves as committed and interested in learning beyond the traditional classroom. That's why when we heard about "Doors to Diplomacy" we all were interested and positive about taking on this challenge.
The first coach who supported us was Mrs Teirney, who taught us English in ninth grade. She is the one who told us about the competition and supervised our after-school meetings. Once we decided on our topic, we approached Dr Harington, a Science teacher on our school staff, to be our Scientific advisor. He had some good contacts and advice for us and having recently completed his doctorate, he was pleased to mentor us and encourage us to set high goals for ourselves.
2. Summary of Our Project
Our Doors to Diplomacy web project is about a controversial issue in Science and Technology - Genetically Modified Crops. We created our page to help kids learn about the scientific facts of Genetic Engineering, otherwise known as Genetic Modification. We tried to make it clear but simple, so that it was understandable for young people. We encourage the people who visit our site to be informed and to express their opinions on the issue in a peaceful manner. The internet is a useful tool in global discussion, because it enables people from around the world to come together in an unbiased place and learn from each other. We have included information pages, links to sites for and against, activities such as poll, quiz, guestbook and the main part of our discussion, the student forum. It has also been a learning opportunity for us. We have gained experience and confidence, not only with this particular topic but with problem-solving and computer skills in general.
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:1
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:4-6
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
Our school has three large computer labs and six smaller hubs. In one building block at our school there is one computer in each classroom. Our resource center (affectionately known as the library) also has ten computers available. The senior students at our school volunteer to co-ordinate a roster of supervision of the computer labs at lunchtime and before school, so that students without computers at home can still develop their skills.
We each have a computer at home, but have varying degrees of access. We have used e-mail to share ideas in between group meetings and to communicate with outside organizations.
We have all had experience in online bulletin board discussions in our English class and the State Government of Tasmania has set up a Student Forum facility, which they encourage students all around our state to visit.
Despite the challenges, it has been very enjoyable making this website.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
Coming together as a group, even a small group of three, took quite a lot of negotiation because we are all very busy after school. Mrs Teirney let us plan our site in class but she could not talk with us exclusively because there were 27 other class members. Zara had to miss gymnastics a few times to get the project started but soon we had settled into a routine.
Choosing our second coach took a little while. Whereas we were all in the one English class, we had different Science teachers, so we were unable to make a quick decision. Mrs Teirney suggested Dr Harington as a suitable coach because of his background as a practising scientist and his interest in websites and once he started meeting with us we were very grateful for his guidance.
Our first technical barrier came very early in the creative process. In her Information Technology course at school, Sasha-lee had learned how to create computer games using Klik-and-Play software. She spent several intense sessions creating a learning activity for GM Crops, only to be disappointed to discover that this could not be uploaded to the group’s website.
We had to be very careful to learn about our obligations with regard to copyright. We had trouble getting diagrams onto the webpages because the filesize was too great.
A huge challenge for us, being in the Southern hemisphere, was the fact that our Summer holiday took us out of contact from each other for eight weeks of the “Doors to Diplomacy” timeframe. We have had to work hard in the time we had available.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Genetic modification of crops - is it here to stay in our world? Doors to Diplomacy has raised the awareness of this controversial Science and Techology issue in our school community. Visit our site and have your say.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
Our Doors to Diplomacy project has met the requirements of Tasmania's newly developed Curriculum Framework. Our state has identified the following five ESSENTIALS FOR LEARNING: Thinking, Communicating, Personal Futures, Social Responsibilities and World Futures. Our project has enabled us to set our own goals, solve real problems, learn in a real context and have a sense of ownership and responsibility.
Besides fulfilling a state priority, we are also following the philosophy of our school, Ogilvie High. Our school motto is "TODAY" which challenges us to be all we can be and maximise our potential as young women, making the most of the learning opportunities here and now.
We have utilised all the high-order thinking skills listed in Bloom's Taxonomy, synthesizing the skills, knowledge and attitudes we have formed in studying English, Science and Information Technology and setting our own goals and striving to achieve them, using the Mayer Key Competencies identified by the Government of Australia.
In our English class we are assessed on our groupwork, our ability to write for specific purposes and audiences, to write clearly and accurately and to reflect and adjust our goals as we go. In Science, we study a unit on Genetics, in particular how this controversy is dealt with by different groups in society. In Independent Learning Time, we must be totally responsible for our personal study for the time allocated and we get a chance to put together all we learn in the different school subjects in a holistic, meaningful way. Our school values learning in particular extra-curricular projects, just as much as in classes that we take. Using the internet will never take the place totally of talking to real teachers, but students at our school enjoy internet learning activities. We are encouraged to be creative on the world-wide web, not just consumers of what is on the net already.