1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?
We used the computer in our classroom for individual work sessions and our computer room for bigger sessions. We used our school digital camera widely, with everyone getting a turn to bring it home to use. Our video camera was borrowed from a friend, and we used Real Producer from http://www.real.com to produce our video clips. We used our computer's sound recorder to record voices and music and then converted these into Real Audio, also using Real Producer. We used Word 97 and Dreamweaver to produce our web pages, and Paint Shop Pro, Animagic and KidPix to produce graphics. Much of this software is easily downloaded from the Internet. We sourced our information locally in Belmullet library, in texts produced locally, in interviews, in history books and on the Internet. (See our acknowledgment page at http://www.inver.org/ceantar/~ack.htm). Our favourite piece of equipment was our own digital camera because it produced high quality photographs that were small in bytes and everyone got turns to use it.
2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.
The pupils collected information from members of our locality by informal interviews mainly. They also wrote to local authors to gain their permission to use their books for reference and one group wrote to farm machinery depots to gain such information. The pupils e-mailed some of our sources to gain permission for links. This concept was new to pupils, they hadn't realised that one ought seek permission for use of information. All responded positively and expressed interest in our project. The pupils didn't consciously go out with the intention of being ambassadors, they merely were working on the research aspect of their project. However, through their communications with outside bodies, (authors, web masters, story tellers etc.) they did become ambassadors for the school and the project. And we were proud of them!
3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?
We invited our families to come into our classroom and explore this project and previous CyberFair projects with their children. Our feedback from parents has been most interesting, varying from delight at an opportunity to see our own pupils' work, to enjoyment of past CyberFair projects (with suggestions for improving our own!) to the pure bliss of just being able to look at the the Internet, which was a new experience for all our visiting parents. We have received some great feedback in e-mail format from the wider community on the Internet. We received one e-mail on Feb. 25th saying '..we drove extensively in the northern areas of County Mayo. We must have been very near to your school because we were on R313 and drove to The Mullet. We loved seeing the land and the sea because we live in Phoenix, Arizona USA and do not get to see the ocean too much. I am interested in your website because I work for a school district here...I am hoping that we can communicate and share some ideas. I especially enjoyed your project, Ar gCeantar. I read all of your stories and loved your delightful pictures of the story of the Children of Lir. I even tried your Boxty recipe...it was great! ' We also received this on February 24th: '...I live in Milford Connecticut, USA. I was surfing the Internet today (Saturday, February 24,2001) and found your site. First let me commend you all on your site. It is a delight to see children using their natural curiosity to learn of their world and to share that same world with others. In a nutshell I love your site.' Both these writers offered information on their own regions and wanted to open up channels of communication. Our project has included collaboration within the school, within the community and within the planet.
4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?
Our project is a focal part of an ongoing initiative (CELT) in our school. Our school and community have been working together for some years now in an attempt to incorporate computer technology onto our curriculum, while the wider community gain technology training in the school. Recently they organised a voluntary labour force which changed a disused building into a nice room to house our nine new computers.(Courtesy of SIP).We have used our Cyberfair project as a launching pad for a parent and child collaboration. Over the last weeks we have had parent and child sessions in our new computer room where they share time together. We allocate the parents a time to come in to the school where they can sit beside their child and use the Internet to evaluate 1)other Cyberfair entries from previous years and 2) our own project, using the Cyberfair evaluation rubric. This has been a positive experience because it gives a chance to our parents to see our own project on the Internet (most of our families do not have Internet access at home). It also is a safe and interesting way for our pupils to explore the Internet. We hope to implement the same procedure when we have to evaluate our projects for Cyberfair 2001!
5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)
We discovered how rich our own region is in terms of beauty, history, music and culture. Sometimes it's easy to forget how great home is!
We enjoyed writing for an audience, particularly when we got feed back from them.
We all learned from one another during the project. We picked up technical tips with regard to web page production, or GIF animation etc., and we also gleaned interesting factual snippets of information from one another.
We found it surprisingly easy to incorporate our project into the dictates of our new revised curriculum, but we found our days were too short!