CyberFair Project ID: 2665

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: The Land Beyond the Clouds--Mountain Lera of Balon
Category: 5. Local Attractions (Natural and Man-Made)
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Balung Elementary School
    Tao-Yaun, Taiwan, R.O.C.

10 s students, ages 11-12 years of age worked together to complete this CyberFair project on February 10, 2003. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2000

Classes and Teachers: Chia-Yu Hong,Chin-Sheng Huang,Ching-Chih Hsu

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Balon, Tao-Yuan County, is located in the middle section of Northern Cross Country Highway. Balon means cedars in Tayal language. The Upper Balon in Balon area is 1,220 meters above sea level. The residents are mostly native Tayals, and they grow the peaches that are sold to the tourists for a living. Lera Mountain is located in Upper Balon. Lera means "to look far away, the most beautiful mountain". It was so called because you can see as far as the seashore in Yi-Lan County 50 kilometers away. And the superior location made the Japanese army forced to take Lera from Tayals. The Balon Fu-Shan Trail, which leads Upper Balon to Fu-Shan Village, U-Lai, was the most important access between the tribes at both ends in the old days. It was selected as one of the Ten Most Beautiful Mountain Trails in Taiwan.

2. Summary of Our Project

The Lera Mountain is gorgeous, and the Da-Kuan Nature Reserve here is famous for the Primary Red Cedar Forest in Southeast Asia, and is regarded as the "best place for green showers in northern Taiwan". The peaches here are delicious, that's why Lera is called the Homeland of Peaches.

We tell the stories of the past, the present, and the future through the interview with the elders of Tayal Tribe, the owners of the hotels and field trips, and we'd like to take this opportunity to introduce the beauty of Lera to all, and get everyone to respect the nature and the ecology systems.

3. Our Computer and Internet Access

A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:less than 20

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:4-6

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

There is a classroom in the school that hosts 18 computers for students, complete with internet and T1 links to TANet. The communities here often suffer from shortage of electricity, and the linkages are often down, too. Only few students have computers at home, but none of those computers are on-line, that's why the computer classroom is opened to students and people in the community at nights. Some students would have to walk a long way to the mountain top and asked one of the teacher to open the classroom door so they can use the computers at nights.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

(1) Some of the elders speak Tayal or Japanese langues. We don't speak very good Tayal. It was lucky that Batu's father, Mr. Cheng-Hui Chen, interpreted for us in the interviews. Mr. Cheng-Hui Chen hopes that we can carry on our mother language, because the culture is preserved in its language. We will need to keep our language alive forever.

(2) We introduced the endangered animals in Lera. Such animals are few and far between and we'd never get a photo of them unless we're extremely lucky. Thanks for the Forrest Management in Hsin-Chu, Taiwan Forest Bureau let us use their photos so we can present a complete picture of Lera to the world.

(3) Sometime not everyone in the team was able to take part in the interviews. We took them with video cameras, and converted the footages into Mpeg files. Those who was unable to make it could just view the whole thing and catch up with the team.

(4) The destinations of our field trips and interviews are all far away, no to mention the rugged mountain terrain. We often needed to take a one or one-and-a-half hours of ride, and walked for two or three hours before we got there. It was very challenging. And because there were many of us, so we had a hard time getting enough transportation. The Church of Balon was kind enough to lent their van, which seated 9 persons, to us, along Mr Po-Sung Chen, the driver. We'd have all crushed if we had walked all the way to those destinations.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

(1) We'd like to thank the world for all the help. It made possible that we grew to have strong bonding with our team members.

(2) We got to meet different people in the community through the project. And we learned a lot of things that we don't learn from the school. It was fulfilling.

(3) We got to know more about our hometown through the information from internet, interviews and field trips, and we introduce our hometown the world so many more will share the beauty of it.

(4) Life depends on nature, and nature is like a mother to us. People sometimes sabotage the nature, even sever the lives of other creatures, because of meager benefits. Everything in the world, not just human beings, should be respected. It maybe idealistic, but we'd like to start from ourselves and try our best to influence others.

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

(1)In this project, we tried to find out our shortcomings and correct them. We knew we're part of the community and nature, and we could do something for it. We blended many curriculum into the project, including courses of languages, mathematics, nature and technologies, arts and humanities, health and exercises, and local features. The issues of environment, recreation and information educations were also included in it.

(2)The people are the most important part of the project. It requires lots of communicating techniques to make every event, like interviews, meeting, teamwork, and job allocations, successful. And the computers and internet enhanced our efficiency.

(3)One sometimes feel that a split of second means nothing, but it was accumulations of many of them to make things great. The nature beauty lies in the different trees, magnificent contours, various plants and animals that are born out of millions of years of time. It takes infinite ages to create all these, but they could be sabotaged overnight. Is it one of the things that the Land of Lera wants us to know?

(5)We performed geology and ecology field trips, sketching, integration of courses, and the Form of Comprehensive Learning through combination of the courses of nature and popular sciences, courses of arts and humanities, and supplemental courses. The project also enhanced our capabilities in handling information technologies and concepts of conservation through the information technology courses in the school and the field trips.

Project Elements

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

Interviews and field surveys-Visiting the elders and hotels in the community in order to know more about local tourism.

Internet-Searching for related information and communicating with other surfers.

Library, books-The books related with local culture, nature environment, plants and animals. Integrating the resources of tourism, Tayal culture and history.

Recorders, digital recorders-Recording the interviews and having them saved as computer files.

Cameras, digital comeras, video Cameras and image cards-Recording the interviews with photos and video footages. Converting the video footages into VCS for those students who couldn't take part in the interviews.

Scanners and printers-The scanners were used in processing the images. The printers were used to print out project files.

Telephones and fax machines-Contacting the interviewees.

Memory sticks and CDRW-Transporting the files to off-line PCs.

Sketch Boards-Making drawings.

Software-Dreamweaver, Ulead VideoStudio, Flash, PhotoImpact, LeapFTP, Office, Swish and so on.

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

At the beginning, we wanted to focus on the history, stories and legends of Balon. As many parents suggested, we interviewed MaMa from the Church of Balon, and got to know many things related with this land. MaMa and Uncle Chen told us, if we wanted to go further, we'd have to visit elder persons. That's why we went to one of the Masters of Tayals, Le Bin.

Later, we tried to find out the charms of Lera from the residents who lived on lowlands. Why do outsiders move into Lera? What do the tourists come for? We interviewed Mr. Hsin-Hsou Chen of Jin-Ren Hotel, who is the youngest hotel owner in Lera, and Tung-Ho Chen of Da-Kuan Resort, who witnessed the rise of Lera. Mr. Chen of Jin-Ren Hotel even gave us a field trip of Lera sightseeing. We were very impressed. We also visited many employees of the forest management and volunteers of other communities. The owners of Fu-Hsien Hotel and yeh-heng Warm Springs Hotel also told us many things that you don't find on brochures.

Finally, we played the roles of local guides and introduced Lera to some tourists, and with their permission, made a survey on tourism of Lera.

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

(1) Lera is a remote place with only limited opportunities of employment. Many of the students' family incomes rely on tourism. The number of tourists shrank because of a series of earthquake and typhoons in recent years, however, and many parents were unable to pay for the tuition and school lunches. The project the students created was something they could do for their hometown, and it helped many of their elder brothers and sisters to be able to carry on their schooling. The number of tourists increased dramatically after the team went to the press conferences when the CyberFair opened in Taipei. Young though they may be, they did made a difference for the community. It was meaningful.

(2) Once the team members made a presentation to all the younger people in the community. They talked about our resources for tourism, knowledge about the environment and conservation. It was well received. The parents in the community learned more about conservation and were willing to support us after they read our papers.

(3) Most importantly, the project was a source of power and beauty, because it gave us confidence. It was said confident people are more beautiful than others. Their faces shine, and they overcome many difficulties. We treasure the internet, because it is by far the only learning tool that treat school children fairly, no matter they live in metropolis or remote villages. So we grab every opportunity to learn, and volunteer to take part in the press conference when the CyberFair opened. We talked confidently in front of the reporters and cameras, because we believe will help our future, and there're infinite hopes and possibilities in our lives. That's why we made our best effort for the project!

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

First, we'd like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Yu-Chien Hsing and all the people of the CyberFair for giving us all the assistance, especially Ms. Mei-Hua Wu for answering all our questions in the project. Mr. Hsin-Hsou Chen of Jin-Ren Hotel gave us the Lera Tour CD he made. The owners of Da-Kuan Resort, Fu-Hsien Hotel and yeh-heng Warm Springs Hotel also gave us much information. Many parents encouraged and supported us, like Ms. Hui-Chu Chen, Mr. Cheng-Hui Chen and Mr. Cheng-Chung Lin. The Balon Police Station lent their video camera to us and relieved the crisis of no equipment to take a record. Ms. Joanna Lei and Ms. Amy Chou came a long way from Taipei in the weekends, and helped the team with the project. Mr. En-Wei Lee and Tsung from Chung-Yuan University gave up almost all their weekends to teach the team in making web pages. This is a site that is made possible by many people's efforts, and we'd like to thank everyone who helped it.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

(1) We learned to work as a team, use computers, and make good interviews. We also found that we influence others all the time, and vice versa, and you can say the same thing about the relationship between the nature and human beings.

(2) It was a rare opportunity for our school children to take part in press conferences when the CyberFair opened. It was every educational.

(3) Mr. En-Wei Lee and Tsung from Chung-Yuan University moved us. They went through the rugged mountain paths on motorcycles almost every weekend. They bore the cold winter nights, and had instant noodles for dinners. The spent the daytime giving computer courses to the children. You don't see many college students who are willing to sacrifice all the fun they could have as youngsters and counsel the kids in deep mountains. It was even more impressive that they decided to spend the next six months in teaching Lera children. It was they who made it possible that we're almost as good as children in the cities.

(4) Our team got to know other teams through internet in the process. The San-Kaun Elementary School also took part in the Fair, and their teacher, Mr. Sheng-Chieh Chang came all the way to visit us, and later took his students here. They came to see how we did with the project. It made us realize that, besides us, other teams also strived to make good projects.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 2665)

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