CyberFair Project ID: 1317

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Ár gCeantar
Category: 5. Local Attractions (Natural and Man-Made)
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Inver National School
    Ballina , Co. Mayo, Ireland

40 students, ages from 6 to 12 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 1, 2001. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2001

Classes and Teachers: Fifth and Sixth Class mainly, with some help from the juniors also

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Our school is located on the west coast of Ireland. We have five teachers and about ninety pupils, aged from four to twelve. Our school was built in 1886 and has kept its basic structure since then. When our pupils walk to school they can see the Ballyglass Lighthouse accross the bay, guiding the fishermen to safety. In Spring, they gaze at the new lambs nuzzling their mothers in the fields. In winter, they have to battle against the wild Atlantic gales. Our nearest town is Belmullet with a population of about 1000. Our families own small farms and some fish during the summer months. It is a rural community which has to contend with geographic isolation and high unemployment. Despite this, our families have always been highly supportive of our school, as they have been in this project also. In the recent months, our families have helped renovate an old building on the school grounds into a small computer lab on a purely voluntary basis. Their input to our project has been wonderful, and without them, our project would not be so rich.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our project is called Ár gCeantar, which simply means 'Our Region' in Gaeilge which is our national language. Our region is quite remote. However, in our eyes, its beauty and sense of history is unique. Our project is an exploration into our region, looking at it historically and descriptively while also dipping into its language, culture, music and poetry. 'Ár gCeantar' issues an invitation to everyone, whether a visitor to our classroom or distance viewer on the Internet, to explore our wonderful region with us.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:none

B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:1

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:4-6

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

We have either one or two PCs in each of the five classrooms. We also have a small computer lab with nine PCs. The equipment in this lab has been provided by Schools Integrated Project (SIP) at as part of a pilot project experimenting with the integration of technology. SIP has also funded the networking of all our computers through LAN and Internet access via ISDN. All Irish schools get one hour free Internet access per day courtesy of Eircom at

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

Our greatest problem was time. We were full of ideas and enthusiasm, and while our work was all carefully enmeshed in our curriculum strands, our school days seemed to shrink timewise.We also had to make time for the pupils to browse through their own work during school time because only one pupil has Internet access at home.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

'Ní neart go chur le chéile' or 'In unity there is strength.'

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

Our project addressed the standards of the Irish Education Curriculum for Primary Schools from theDepartment of Education and Science, Ireland ( Our project incorporates strands of the English curriculum in developing cognitive abilities through language and enhancing emotional and imaginative development through language. It also addresses some of the wider key issues in our primary education, namely developing a sense of Irish identity and the place of the Irish language in primary education. Our project implemented the objectives of learning about people living in the local area and environment. We also studied story, early people, ancient societies and culture in the past. We used paint graphics, digital photography and film in the Arts section of our project. 'Ár gCeantar' also facilitated the objective of listening to a wide range of music, both live and recorded as outlined by our Music curriculum. We attained the aim of stimulation imagination about the local and wider environment as suggested by the SESE curriculum in our project also. We all learned social skills form our collaborative group work: sharing, learning etc. We also all improved our technology skills as we stretched the skills we already had so as to enhance the production of the project. All children in the senior classes took part in the project, while some of the younger children also made invaluable contributions. We rediscovered ancient legends that I had nearly forgotten, and discovered how many had huge relevance to our locality. We greatly appreciated the input of our local community, many of whom had far greater local knowledge than text books. We also discovered that our New Revised Curriculum encourages, in fact is nearly dependent on such collaborative projects. We found that using the Internet as a display area for our pupils was very exciting and 'cool'. We anticipate much interaction from our worldwide audience.

Project Elements

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 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 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 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!


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 1317)

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