Doors to Diplomacy Project ID: 7296

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Achieving Peace
Category: 5. International Security
URL: http://www.achievingpeace.info
Bibliography: http://www.achievingpeace.info/

School: Knox Grammar School
    Wahroonga, NSW, Australia

4 students, ages 13-14 worked together to complete this Doors to Diplomacy project on March 16, 2012. They have participated in Doors to Diplomacy in the following year(s): First time

Classes and Teachers: Christian, Dan, Jerson and Michael Coach: Karen Yager

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site: http://www.knox.nsw.edu.au/

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Team

Christian H (age 14) is our tech savvy who has various skills in web design and flash animations. He was no doubt a driving force in this project and a major source of motivation. Jerson B (age 14) is technically skilled but also has a very comprehensive knowledge of foreign affairs and politics. He has various organizational skills which kept this project together. Dan S (age 14) has various interests in both music and medicine and a source of the various knowledge and soundtracks accompanying this project. His undivided attention when it comes to working is a major benefit. Michael L (age 13) is the project’s main artist and graphics designer. His interests in art and design are invaluable when it comes to aesthetics and the website’s layout. He is a source for stats and research for all environmental issues. The four of us joined together as a team because of mutual interest in the project and our already strong friendships. We wanted to make a difference to the world especially on such an important matter and we four fast friends believed we could do it together. The division on different jobs was decided based on our interests. For example Michael is quite artistic so he worked on designing graphics, while Jerson the more organised one out of the four became the group organiser. With these interests and skills in mind we divided the project accordingly. Our coach Mrs Yager contributes to this project in a number of ways. Firstly she acted as our guide giving us tips and other points of advice; she also went out of her way to give us all the resources we required such as time out of school.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our project aims at highlighting past and present international affairs and the role diplomacy has in international negotiations and relations. We hope to raise awareness about peacekeeping efforts, combating terrorism and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In the past, Diplomacy has taken wars off the battle field and into rooms, where peaceful negotiations between parties take place without the cost of lives, military resources or financial means that could be used for more humanitarian issues; however, with the rising threat of Nuclear Arms, the whole practice intended to maintain peace is being threatened. Firstly we want to show people the past and how war has tainted the world. Then what the status quo currently is regarding the various systems in place and the existence of weapons of mass destruction. Then we wish to highlight the role of diplomacy in this and show how it is the solution to all issues regarding international security. Finally we want to establish how diplomacy can lead to peace. The purpose of our project is to bring awareness to this issue and recognize the role diplomacy will play in our future.

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:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):

We had quite a lot of access to the internet in each different location we worked at. The connection speed was quite fast despite having a lot of people using it. However, there were some connection difficulties when we visited each other’s houses where some laptops would not connect to the server. In away such fast connectivity also became bad because of the temptation and distraction that came with it.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

The main obstacle we had to overcome was the amount of time we had. Our team only had two weeks to complete the project which became a massive restriction on the amount of detail and perfection that we could use. To deal with this we had to make time, even pushing aside assessments to complete the task. We spent a lot of time at each other’s houses on each day of the week we could manage. There were also opportunities in school where we could work on the project. In the end making this project the priority and putting less effort into other aspects of our lives we managed to overcome this obstacle. Another issue that we had to face was technical obstacles which mainly were the difficulty of creating our own website without templates or help and also the fact the majority of the team had no previous experience. Again this meant further time spent on research and learning how to use flash. The lack of inexperience was overcome by allocating people jobs to that were tailored to their interest and skill and not out of their comfort zone.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Our participation has expanded our understanding and knowledge of diplomacy and aspects of international security. Through our medium of the website we hope this impact spreads through the school and our local community as well using some of the publicity mechanisms like our school newsletter.

6. How did your activities and research for this Doors to Diplomacy Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?

• Our project did not have direct relation with our curriculum although it definitely explored aspects that would be covered in the future. In a way this was an extension course of our learning. It addressed standards such as Technology skills, the ability to create coherent information, keep viewers engaged and write substantial documentation. The project also reflected our English course that requires students to use technology to inform and persuade, and our History course where we use the skills of investigation. Although not tailored specifically to subjects or guidelines there are aspects that would be incorporated throughout life and there are some aspects running on the same idea through it. The new skills that we learnt we’re mainly website design. We learnt how to successfully create a website and display information in a coherent manner. Our researching skills were also developed our so were our understanding of Diplomacy. Despite having a good knowledge on international issues and current diplomatic actions we only had vague and less detailed knowledge on the past. This project expanded our knowledge our understanding of these two. Using the internet has been better than traditional methods. This is because of the efficiency and accessibility of information and the speed that it can be accessed. It makes the time taken to research easier. Although there may be incidents where research is not accurate by using cross referencing and trusted sources, this can be averted.

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Project Elements

1) What information tools & technologies did you used to complete your Doors to Diplomacy project?

The main programs we used were Flash and imovie to complete the movie. Other assistances included the use of video cameras, skype conferencing, sky drive, telephones and emails. These tools helped us by providing an easy means of communication and a compiled accessible source of information. Various techniques and programming in the programs were also of a major assistance giving us more variety and technical aspects to choose from. We located these tools from downloading the programs off the internet of from IT. All programs used were tools that we had previously discovered, although we lacked experience it wasn’t something completely new. Our school did provide full versions of some of the programs such as CS4 Package including Photoshop and illustrator. This was a kind and deeply appreciated contribution as it gave us various tools to create mock ups of the website. Our most valuable tool was perhaps our laptop. Without out laptops we would not have been able to complete this project as there would not have been the portability and access. The wide range of programs and also processing capabilities also helped. The technology that we found most helpful is probably the use of Skype which allowed for instant communication and file sharing across distances so that we could still commune and conference even at absurd times at night. This efficient way of communication was an invaluable technology that greatly assisted our project.

2) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your Doors to Diplomacy project both on-line and in person.

We have and intend to act as ambassadors to encourage people to visit our project by using a variety of publicity mechanisms. Already during our development progress we used mediums such as emails and phone calls to contact local businesses and newsletters to spread awareness. Some contacts include Alan Jones, A talk back radio, our local newsletter and announcements during year meeting. We attempted to utilise medias in our immediate school community but also expanding out towards our local community and even the state when we applied for Sydney Morning Herald and Radio. We also used Twitter and the internet as a tool to promote our project using websites that we have already made such as www.youthwrites.com. In the future as ambassadors we intend to express our project further through state mediums and expand from local ones. We also want to find methods of spreading awareness throughout the country and even globe. If not our own project, but the Doors To Diplomacy program. Although we did not get donated services we managed to spread awareness of the project and draw people’s attention to it. Successes include articles in local papers and a response from talk back radio. We have had some feedback throughout of the school verbally or via emails from fellow students. This was simply expressing their interest for the project and wondering when they could access it.

3) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

The project made us aware of issues that are easy to ignore when you live in a country that it relatively safe. Investigating international relationships opened our minds to how important it is to develop the skills to negotiate and work with others. Our project will make a difference because we can now share this knowledge with other teenagers across the world through our very popular site www.youthwrites.com that will now have a direct link to the Doors to Diplomacy website, and with our school community. We are all members of the Student Think Tank that has a voice in curriculum design. We can ensure that our Door to Diplomacy website is used as a resource in History and English. We will be presenting our website to a Parent Breakfast Seminar in May. Other students and teachers have viewed our website and have expressed how important this issue is for the world community. They appreciated the design and the information. Our peers have expressed the same concern that we tend to be isolated in Australia and forget how precarious the world is because of war and terrorism.

4) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

As our team the members of our community that no doubt helped us were our teachers and fellow students, all of them have our thanks. Firstly we had various teachers including our librarians who greatly assisted us. Our normal subject teachers were understanding when we requested leave or when we asked them for next lesson’s work when we were committed to this project. They responded to our requests instantly and were approachable and welcoming our queries. The librarians allowed us to take use of the library and its various resources to work on our project outsider and during school times. They gave us an allocated area to work in which was greatly appreciated to keep us away from distraction. We thank them for their support and help and providing the resources that we requested. Next we thank our peers for their encouragement and their opinions. They provided advice such as the use of colours and the layout that they as a viewed would like. They also encouraged us when we worked and also provided the day’s work and notes when we missed them. Finally we than Mr Beilharz and Mrs Yager. Mr Beilharz for letting us make us of his conference room and not minding us using it. We thank him for his support when it came to technology and his assistance. We also thank Mrs Yager for getting us out of class to work on this project and providing us with the necessary resources to complete the project. We thank her for the encouragement she provided and the invaluable advice and comments. For all these various helpers we extend our thanks for your contribution to our project.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Our school is going to recognise our efforts at an assembly where we will get to share our website and what we have learned, thereby reaching 1600 boys. We have learned that as young people we can make a difference. When we consider what has happened in the Middle East and how technology has enabled people to have a voice and even instigate political change, we realise that every person who speaks out for peace will unite into one powerful voice.

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View our Doors to Diplomacy Project (Project ID: 7296)

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