1. Description of Our Community
Fangyuan Township is located on the western coast of Changhua County. The township’s shape is slightly rectangular. It is on an alluvial plain, with a total area of 97.21 sq.km., created by the deposition of sediments from the Wu River and the Chuoshui River. With the Taiwan Strait on its west side, Fangyuan Township was once the second largest harbor in Taiwan, second only to Lukang. There is a vibrant aquaculture fishery industry, evidenced by the numerous oyster farms along the coast. The oyster farmers use oxen for cart pulling. This unique “sea-ox culture” has been registered as a national treasure of cultural assets. Over recent years, Wanggong Village has been the operational hub of oyster farming. The local tourist industry is centered on oyster. Oyster harvesting and savoring in the beauty of coastal scenery is a major sightseeing attraction. Whilst the coastal economy in Fangyuan Township relies on aquaculture fishery, the inland area is a typical farming community. The landscape is dominated by paddy fields, with simple huts here and there. This is where Fenggu Company is located.
2. Summary of Our Project
In Taiwan, rice is on our dining table every day. It is an agricultural product that we take pride in. Rice appeared in the written history of Taiwan over 400 years ago. The evolution of the rice industry, from 100% human labor to modern equipment, is the achievement of efforts from our ancestors. With this, Taiwan is now able to provide technical support to many developing countries. We knew about the growing, milling, and distribution of rice, but we did not know about rice drying as part of the workflows. The company we are studying, Fenggu Company, is a specialist in rice drying – buying rice from farmers, drying rice, then packaging rice to milling plants or farmers’ associations. The second-generation business owner, Mr. Chen, took over the rice drying plant from his father. A graduate with training in machinery, Mr. Chen purchased extra equipment and slowly pieced up the missing elements of rice drying. He added a rice husk furnace, something other rice dryers do not have. Other rice dryers use diesel as the energy but his furnace dries rice by burning rice husk. In fact, the ashes can be used too. This reduces costs and protects the environment. After Taiwan joined the WTO, its traditional agricultural industry has been affected. This combined with the dietary change of the Taiwanese people has impacted the business of rice dryers. Anchored on its business philosophy of safety, speed, and simplicity, Fenggu Company has gained trust from farmers and built a stable clientele. It has established a firm footing in the crowded space of rice farmers in Changhua. With unwavering commitment to its business philosophy, Fenggu Company hopes to expand its operational scale and continue to work for the local community.
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:more than 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):
We used computers in the school and at home. We also connected onto the Internet via wide-area networks or WiFi/4G to facilitate our discussion and production of the Cyberfair project. To share and collaborate in our work, the team members created a cloud drive for uploading documents and pictures. Sihu Junior High School provides a great access to IT facilities and networks. We did most of the Cyberfair project work during the morning study hour, the lunch break or between classes. We also worked from home by using our own personal computers.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
We encountered many challenges for the Cyberfair project. As we were all first-timers, we were clueless with the process. The biggest problem was that we did not know much about the rice drying industry. To formulate the research direction and to develop interview questions, we logged online to search for information on rice. We also visited the owner of Fenggu Company during holidays and conducted an on-site investigation. All the scheduling and logistics issues needed to be resolved. With the topic in mind, the next challenge was listening to voice recordings, summarizing key points and writing about the findings. Some of the team members were not good writers. Or they had troubles following the interviewee or simply did not focus. As a result, our reports were rejected by our teachers and we had to rewrite. It was a painful process and a test on our persistence. However, we continued to brainstorm and collect information and finally completed the interview and the article! Since we could not get together after school, we had to use the morning study hour, the lunch break, and between classes to discuss and work on the Cyberfair project. During weekends and holidays, we uploaded our writings and other data onto the cloud drive, so that everybody could review and make changes. We needed to juggle between the Cyberfair project and the schoolwork by cutting down the time for relaxation. As a result, we had to try hard not to doze off in class. We were all cautious in the final stage of webpage production because we were all rookies and the process was complicated. We were worried that one misstep would mess up the whole website. Fortunately, we accomplished our work in the end.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
Webpage production was not an easy journey. However, this experience taught us something we could not acquire from textbooks. From the initial contact, interviews, writing to website construction, the Cyberfair project developed not only our capability and experience in special topic research but also our knowledge in the rice industry and its importance to Taiwan. When asked to write about our afterthoughts, some of the team members enthusiastically shared the fond memories but others could not summarize much after hours of thinking. A few of us were even asked by the teacher to rewrite our accounts. Nonetheless, the knowledge, skills, and experience accumulated from the project are something more cherishable to us than the work we have done.
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
For the subject of language arts, we learned about data organization and collection, and practiced our writing skills for the website contents. For the subject of life science and technology, we learned about the growth and improvement of rice, the procedures of rice drying, and machineries used for rice drying. For arts and humanities, we learned to take photos and design webpages. For the subject of social studies, we learned about the business background of Fenggu, rice trading, and its management.