1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your CyberFair project?
We used approximately 25 laptop and desktop computers between our 54 students that belonged to our school and our students themselves. The computers enabled us to conduct a wide variety of research, host our web-site (wiki) and upload photos, video, voice, and text. We also emailed experts to gather information about our topics .We used video and digital still cameras to document and share our site visits, and activities inside and outside of school. We called adult experts on the phone and conducted interviews to gather information about our topics. We used Microsoft Powerpoint and Bing Maps to create presentations about our learning and then created movies by using Screencast-O-Matic. We embedded two useful widgets on our wiki to enable visitors the site to translate our pages into their native language and to enable us to track the number and location of visitors to our site. We used Microsoft Publisher to create our educational brochure, flip cameras and digital cameras to record our field trips and Animoto to create reflective movies about our adventures. Google documents were used to create and share research and data.
Our most valuable informational resources were the experts we contacted so the laptop computers were key tools in helping us locate them and learn their contact information. The cameras were an excellent tool for us to document and share our experiences and the wiki itself was a great vehicle for us to communicate our learning not only with each other but the wider community.
2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.
Our students made many phone calls and sent many emails to reach out to experts in our community who helped us learn about our topics. Adults were typically very surprised at the higher level of inquiry and understanding our students displayed. During their field trips, students were respectful, eager to learn and enthusiastic about their topics. Every adult with whom the students interacted was surprised that students at the 5th and 6th grade level would be working on a project with this level of sophistication. After each visit the experts wrote emails to tell us how interested, polite and informed our students were. Several business experts expressed their joy in being able to spend time with the students and share their knowledge and passion. The students acted as ambassadors with teachers, administrators, business leaders and community members. Through emails, flyers, the media and district wide communications, the students were able to involve members of the wider community who were all impressed and motivated by their commitment and determination to succeed.
3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?
Our project has made a difference in our community because it is so multi-faceted. People have expanded their awareness of the history, current status, and projected ability of local businesses to fulfill the needs and wants of future generations. Visitors from around the globe can recognize commonalities in the issues that we in southeast Michigan have faced with the issues they are addressing in their own communities all over the world.
By visiting local businesses and questioning them about their sustainability policies, we have made them aware that the community is placing higher demands upon them to adopt responsible business practices. We have found businesses to be very receptive to our tips and suggestions about how they can become more sustainable and we are hoping to hear back from them about new policies they have introduced as a result. Our Earth Hour commitment has raised awareness with many people in the community about how businesses can make small changes that can have big impacts. We hope that we have educated consumers about how to make informed decisions about where they take their business, and that those decisions can have major consequences for future generations. We have forged strong links within the community with local businesses, volunteer organizations and educators and we hope to continue to strengthen those relationships as we continue to promote sustainability awareness in the future. Fundamentally, our website and real-time advocacy has helped to shift the awareness of students, families, and community members about their daily living habits and the ways small changes can significantly impact the quality of life for the whole community today and in the years to come.
4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?
We couldn’t have completed this project without the help of our teachers, parents and all the students at BCS. Our teachers helped us to build our wiki, learn how to use new technologies and pointed us in the right direction when we became a little lost on our learning journey. Without our parents we would not have been able to get out into the community to visit theaters, sports arenas, hotels, hospitals and car factories. The adults we met and who helped us at these places were also extremely helpful in developing a deeper understanding of our community, it’s history and the important forces at work within it today. Our research and learning would not have been as thorough if it weren’t for the experts that we contacted for help and guidance. The experts who gave up their time to come into our classroom were very helpful for our understanding and knowledge of the city of Detroit and business practices. They answered our questions carefully and thoughtfully and when they didn’t have the answer they pointed us in the direction of somebody who could. To help raise awareness of our project we made a commitment to Earth Hour. If 1000 people accepted our challenge to turn off their lights during Earth Hour we pledged to dress up as green eco-clowns and visit every business in downtown Birmingham to distribute our educational brochures.To everyone who helped us we offer a huge thank you for your time, support and encouragement. http://downtowndetroit.wikis.birmingham.k12.mi.us/Our+Project
5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)
Our students learned that Google is not the only way to access information and that a face to face interview and conversation are a much more meaningful way to learn about a topic. As teachers, we were really proud to watch our students grow into educated consumers of information, able to be selective with sources, to extract relevant and reliable information and then use that knowledge to formulate their own ideas and opinions. This project also provided our students with the opportunity to learn a lot about character. Working collaboratively they gained a deeper understanding of trust, reliability, responsibility and accountability. Our students also became very creative with the way they shared their learning, opting to use new and exciting technology tools. In learning how to manipulate those tools they learned a great deal about digital literacy and how to problem solve and persevere when encountering a challenge. One of the amazing lessons learned here is that the intelligence, capabilities and creativity of children should never be underestimated as a force for change. Our students developed an effective and efficient way to determine the sustainability of a business, and through their educational and informative pamphlet they realized that an individual can be a powerful agent of change within our community. They have also learned the power of collaboration and for deep and meaningful change to take place at a city wide level, an entire community must come together to articulate their vision of the future and determine an action plan to make it happen. Our students have surprised everyone, including themselves, with the high level of insight they acquired. They have set themselves on a lifelong path of reasoned analysis and advocacy.