CyberFair Project ID: 1343

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: A Virtual Tour Of Linden Ave
Category: 3. Business and Community Organizations
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Main Elementary
    Carpinteria, California, United States

135 students, ages from 6 to 12 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 14, 2001. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 1999, 2000, 2001

Classes and Teachers: Julie Cole, Main and Canalino Elementary schools

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Main Elementary School is located in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara County, California, in the United States. Our school serves 375 third through fifth grade students. It is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the mountains of Los Padres National Forest. Carpinteria is a small, ocean-side, rural community located about 80 miles North of Los Angeles in Santa Barbara County. Avocado and other fruit trees cover the hillsides. Sandy beaches stretch for miles. The main industries are tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, and service occupations. Research and development in high technology fields are developing and becoming an important part of Carpinteria’s growing economy. Our valley is home to approximately 15,000 residents and covers 11.6 square miles. Carpinteria prides itself as home of the “World's Safest Beach!”

2. Summary of Our Project

Our project involved the students exploring the businesses and the business owners of our community. We invited other students within our school district to participate in our project. The project began with a mapping of the businesses along our main street of commerce (Linden Avenue) and within the community at large. The students drew a very large map of Linden Ave. They then took several walking field trips on Linden to capture pictures of all the storefronts. The students volunteered their time outside of class to contact, interview and photograph the local business owners. The students engaged in "hands on" and authentic learning opportunities. Many business owners volunteered their time by coming to our school to make themselves accessible to the students. Our students shared information on the Internet with the local and global community. They created a friendship and appreciation for the many people that make up our community.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:21-50%

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:2-3

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

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):

Our access is through the Santa Barbara County of Education Office. We have been upgraded from a fractional T1 line to a full T1 line, which is on a wide area network. Our web project is served through the Linux web server of a Main School parent, John Callender and is hosted by his Internet Service Provider-Greg Domeno at Cyberverse Inc. Greg volunteered to host our site and provides our domain name John donates his time as our Web Administrator. Our school has a 21-station computer lab with Internet access. All students have access to the lab once a week for 48-minute class sessions.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

The biggest problem was dividing up the businesses among the students and organizing the photos and information gathered. Originally students wished to include every business owner in the community, in order to feature their relatives' businesses. Quickly they realized this would be impossible. To the disappointment of some, we decided on Linden Avenue, the main street of commerce. Another challenge was accommodating all the students in the computer lab with the time to scan, edit, and upload the 900 images. We overcame this challenge as a handful of volunteers stepped forward to help type the interviews and edit student written captions. It was also difficult to share one digital camera amongst the students. To help solve this problem our parent group donated throwaway cameras. Many students had a hard time taking quality pictures. In addition a few cameras were lost, and since the students were sharing cameras when a camera was lost, so were the pictures. This caused frustration for the students that had to re-do their photo shoots. The students planned aerial photos of Linden Ave. At first we wanted a school-wide event to take aerial pictures of Main School and Linden Ave. However, it was canceled the same day due to district concerns. Instead the photographs used were taken on a weekend, which was a disappointment. Another challenge was the unexpected loss of our computer teacher, for a month due to surgery! Upon Mrs. Cole’s return, with less than three weeks before the deadline, we were racing to finish the site. Another obstacle we faced was the amount of time required to collect photos of Linden Avenue in order to create the “PixAround” java applet which gave a “Virtual Tour of Linden Ave” for the website. Our student volunteer was very dedicated to getting the right photos.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

We are excited because we learned a lot about the people who work on the most visited street in our community. We are happy that the community is as excited as we are and hope that other kids visit our website and learn more about our special town.

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

At Main School, there is an emphasis in integrating the community and its history into our social studies curriculum following the guidelines of the California State Framework. Our CyberFair project helped us incorporate the many skills students are learning at Main School - civic awareness, writing, history and technology. These are major elements of the grades 3-5 curriculum strands. Main School's curriculum focuses on the writing process as a whole. Students learned how to craft meaningful and relevant interview questions and incorporate the information into their writing. Next, this information was organized, edited, reedited, and finally published. In order to accomplish this, the students used MS word, Notepad (for HTML pages), digital camera, 35mm and panoramic cameras, Adobe Photoshop, PixAround, email, scanners, tape recorders, Internet and aerial photos. The students were able to see that the project worked only because it was a group effort. They enjoyed collaborating, and all agreed that they had fun "even though it was a lot of work." Our students are looking forward to using the CU-See Me technology as they share their final project with their friends and the community. They feel that this has been a wonderful contribution to the community, and even the world, because now people have another way to visit Carpinteria and learn about the people who live here!

Project Elements

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

Our lab has 21-networked IBM Pentium compatible computers, a scanner, a digital camera, Zip drive, T1 line for Internet access, two telephone lines, and a laser printer. Each class used our lab with our parent volunteer John Callender who taught some students to use html and create a search engine for the site. Aaron LaPlante, our technician, taught us how to use PixAround. The students worked as a team designing the layout and content of the project. Debbie Hosseini, parent volunteer, was instrumental in co-teaching with John so the students could learn all the necessary skills. The computer teacher Julie Cole had the on-going task of teaching the hardware and software skills to the students. In addition to learning these skills the students had the incredible task of file management so that all files could remain in a central location and all students could access their files each week. The video projector was a huge help so everyone could see the project and demonstrations. Students learned the "ins and outs" of these tools and then used them to build their project. The telephone, email and fax made getting accurate information quick and easy. Our digital camera and scanner were extremely valuable to the project. These pictures were easily transferred to the computer and students could import them into Adobe PhotoShop and edit them. The students relied on the network to transfer information from the scanner to their projects, which allowed for larger pictures to be transferred. The students held an art contest for the homepage. The Internet access in the computer lab provided students email access for contacting their local owners, and the ability to search for facts about Linden Ave. Finally, students gathered the greatest amount of information from oral interviews with our business owners.

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

The students worked together to organize the project and divide tasks. They then decided which sections they would like to help create and which businesses to interview. The students photographed and interviewed businesses for the information they needed. Many students were able to interview family members and close personal friends who work on Linden Avenue. Some of the students were prepared to give a demonstration to the Carpinteria Unified School District Board of Trustees at our school site. However they were unable to due to time constraints of the board meeting. The members of the board did express their support and enthusiasm for the project. Parents and the community were able to read about the project in an article, written by a CyberFair participant, in the school newspaper, which was distributed throughout the Main School community. The article included photos from the project's home page and a web address to visit the site. The CyberFair home page is linked to the Main School home page, so anyone visiting our home page can also see our CyberFair project. We have received lots of positive feedback from the local community supporting our project. Two local newspapers, the Santa Barbara News Press and Coastal View, are preparing feature stories about our students and their website. Our local news station will televise interviews of participating students in a feature story of the week after the project is submitted. We have had numerous business owners thank us for the opportunity to be included on Main School's web site. Students were both happy and proud that their web project was a wonderful showcase for the business owners of their community. Imagine the joy as several students received free gifts -ice cream, food, and a skim board- from the businesses they interviewed.

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

Many of the businesses we interviewed didn't have web exposure and were eager to have the students create this site. Several businesses even contacted us before we had a chance to contact them and requested to be a part of our website. We have received lots of positive feedback about our project. Students that have moved away visit our site and email us to say "hi." Each classroom has epals that circle the globe. Our epals have written that they enjoyed getting to see the businesses and local locations (seal fountain, skate park) in Carpinteria. A response frequently made from our own community members is that they can't wait to share our site with their friends in and out of the city. The project has brought greater community awareness about our students and school. We have received several inquiries from businesses as to how they can further support our school. Von's Supermarket, for example, has established a financial partnership to increase the technological expertise of our staff to pass along to our students. The greatest impact has been at our school. As the students on the project have shared their pride in their work with other classmates, interest for joining next year's project has grown. We are a small town with a lot of pride and this project will bridge the gap between the pride of the students and that of the adults. Ownership in one's community is the first step in preserving that community and the values that result in productive lives. The adults in our community are thrilled to see the students take a deeper interest in what they treasure as a very unique and wonderful hometown. Our site is still new, and we are looking forward to providing a valuable resource to our local and global community.

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

The students would like to send a big "Thank you" to John Callender, Debbie Hosseini, and Aaron LaPlante for all the technical support they gave to us. They provided valuable web page design classes, taught new software and managed the large volume of information. They provided moral support, supervision, and encouragement to the students. Thank you John, Debbie and Aaron! We have all the business owners, parents, and friends to thank for offering information and support for our project. Thank you to Dr. Jimmy Campos, our principal, who proofread, typed, and gave us his undying support. Thank you, Dr. Campos! A big thank you to our ISP host for donating the domain name and server space for our site. Thank you to all the interviewees for their time, effort and support! Thank you to our pilot Lang Nevens for providing all the aerial photos! We wouldn’t have had them without you. An extra special thanks to third grade teacher Angela White for all the technical and artistic input as well as countless hours outside of school! A special thank you to our helpful staff: Julie Soto, Mary & Paul Foley, Sara Leffew, Claudia Stout, Elisa Takaya, Lisa Nakasone, Rene Mireles, Leslie Gravitz, Annette Davis, Brett Weiberg, Peggy Kahler, Will Fredericks, Michael Riley, Kimberly Young, Liz Lopez, Maria Warren and Valerie Campos! Thanks to the parent volunteers - Sally Van Der Kar, Lynley Rosa and Lori Pearce. Thank you to Matt Murray for his data entry and problem solving. Thank you to Mrs. Cole, our technology teacher, for all her time, support and dedication in getting the project up and running and seeing it through to the end and Mr. Cole for waiting patiently for it to get completed.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

The students had many surprises and discoveries. One such surprise was learning how many students had relatives or friends that worked on Linden Ave. Several students chose businesses that they really liked to shop, eat or hang out at. Sharing became critical to the students when popular businesses were already spoken for. The students then had to form teams if they really wanted to work on a particular business. One life lesson came with sharing the work amongst other schools and learning to deal with the disappointments when the other schools were unable to complete their portions in time. They also learned to have an alternative plan in order to complete the work. Students learned that patience is a virtue when using technology. Getting both the scanner and PixAround software to work proved that point. Many of the students' "discoveries" are of a life-long nature: some have developed an interest in web page design; several want to work at local businesses; all learned about hard work and its rewards as well as the fun of working hard at something you enjoy. New friends were made amongst the students and with the adults they interviewed. All students increased their technology, social and group skills. Most importantly, all students learned a lot more about the town they live in.


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