CyberFair Project ID: 4520

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Jian Glolden Rice
Category: 4. Local Specialties

School: Daushiang primary school
    Hualien, Hualien county, Republic of China (Taiwan)

8 students, ages 11-12 years old worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 1, 2006. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2004,2005

Classes and Teachers: Ms Lan-ying Wu, Ms Gui-rong Huang, Mr. Lin-wei Zhang, Ms Yan-cen Lin

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Jian Township, which depends on farming products for its main income and profits, is famous for ‘YOSHINO No.1’ rice, whose beautiful fragrance and proper viscosity wins praise. Historically it was deemed of such high quality that it was chosen to be offered to Japan’s emperors, giving it the nickname ‘Emperor Rice.’ Currently, many vegetables and flowers also are exported from Jian with quality rivaling that of their rice. Owing to some unfortunate circumstances, income earned from agriculture is currently less than the living expenses of farming families. The farming population has therefore been in decline. Farming policies need to adopt protective measures to abate this decline and maintain social and cultural wealth through economic stability. Although Jian Township still devotes much land to agriculture, it has been quietly transforming to cater for the growing leisure market. The conditions in Jian Township for the construction of a leisure, agriculture, and fishing park are excellent. Besides its existing agriculture, Jian has natural scenery, ancient remains, a religious holy ground, aboriginal traditional culture, and other abundant natural and cultural resources. In recent years, various construction projects have progressively taken place, diverging Jian from its true agriculture infrastructure. Thus, the development of a leisure, agriculture, and fishing park comes naturally, as conditions are ripe. Hopefully Jian Township’s rural appearance will help it become a ‘beautiful backyard’ of Hualien City in the future.

2. Summary of Our Project

The ‘Jian rice’ that Jian Township produces is one of the main agricultural products of the Hualien area and is well known for its excellence throughout Taiwan. Its official name is called ‘YOSHINO No.1.’ After it is cooked, its fragrance and viscosity are both excellent. Thus, it is the best material for making lunchboxes, sushi, and porridge. In recent years, only two households have grown YOSHINO No. 1. This makes us consider why it has declined. Further, Jian’s agricultural population has, to a large extent, moved away. What impact will this have? It is hoped that the research plan can help local children acquire a love for their hometown and local culture. We plan to go beyond our reference books and classrooms, and observe our surroundings. We also understand ‘Jian’ agricultural development aims and characteristics, and express these to local farmers.

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:1

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 school has one computer room in which there are approximately 40 computers. Each classroom also has one computer provided for students. In school, we make good use of the lunch break to type schedule reports or interviews in this room. Some students have computers at home, but not all have internet connections. If we cannot manage to complete the work at noon, some of us will complete them at home and then send digital copies to our teachers. If we cannot send them to our teacher, we will save them on disks and then hand them in the next day. Students who do not have computers at home use breaks between classes to work in the computer room. Aside from using computers to type schedule reports and interviews, we also used them to retouch images of photographs or to make graphs and tables of our questionnaire data statistics to aid in their analysis. In addition, we sent the data to our teachers through the computer room e-mail. Our teachers arrange the data, print them out and give them to us so that we make needed corrections.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

1.How to form a team: The number of eligible students was too great so teachers had to choose a selection method - there were sixteen students, and eight were selected. The competition was indeed fierce. 2.How to pace the use of time: We were only able to meet occasionally, delaying our schedule. We often used holidays to meet, we felt rushed and unfocused. When scheduling interviews, the period that interviewees suggested. for interviewing was very tight, and we were continuously pushed to ask our questions quickly, a situation we were not comfortable with. But, there was no other alternative as they were faced with the same temporal restrictions of activities with our parents, classes, and homework. 3.Making use of experience: Lacking efficient interview experience, we were always anxious and nervous.Despite interview improvements, we found ourselves behind schedule and catching up was very exhausting! Our experiences will help us if we do this again. 4.How to deal with problems when making a survey: After collecting the questionnaires, we found that some of them had not been completed. Blank spaces and ambiguities were common and some answers were hard to categorize or analyze. We did not know whether the questions were inadequate or if the people filling out the questionaires were not taking them seriously. We need patience to check them properly and we discussed whether their contents were proper. Are the questions clear? If we have another opportunity to design a questionnaire, we will use a simplified and clearer format. We do not wish to repeat mistakes. We interviewed many farmers and surveyed many people, finding that there were common problems among Taiwanese farmers. Aside from the impact of the World Trade Organization, natural accidents are also a problem. We also visited many agricultural administrative departments, obtaining a consistent answer: the agricultural population is decreasing yearly. This is a trend for all of Taiwan, not just Hualien. In addition to agricultural work being hard and time-consuming, there were complaints of bad weather. Water pollution and environmental degredation, affecting production rates, were also cited.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Our research consisted of observations, interviews, discussions, records, and reflections. All activities such as field studies and outdoor interviews, statistics, questionnaire analysis, data collection and analysis, report writing, web page design, and sharing of opinions have ben learning experiences. In these activities, we were truly involved in ‘putting learning into real-life practice.’ III. Practical Aims of the Project Research Plan

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

1.Competence in Language: a.Ability to critically analyze data and share opinions and information with others. b.Ability to concretely state interpretations and about data and to express personal opinions. c.Ability to write a personal working plan and propose and discuss group plans. 2.Competence in society: a.Describing local and regional natural and cultural characteristics. b.Understanding that investment is a risky action but can provide an opportunity for profit and sustainable community development. c.Discussing developmental processes of the city and countryside, examining problems and solutions for improvement. d.Understanding the historical transformation of land and culture. e.Being able to understand multiple views to proceed with rational arguments to propose good reasons for personal choices and judgments while facing controversial questions. f.Understanding that various industries and economic developments need to consider native natural and cultural characteristics. 3.Competence in art and culture: Designing a plan based on cultural understanding, while applying proper methods and skills to creatively convey an enhanced understanding of the community. 4.Competence in natural and living technology: a.Understanding the cause and effect relationship of daily events. b.Ability to obtain information through telephone, newspapers, libraries, internet and media. c.Use multiple types of data analysis tools to obtain meaningful information (data interpretation, graphs). d.Learning how to devise a working plan and delegate tasks. e.Understanding group dynamics. f.Dealing with the pressures of the project while staying focused on our goal. 5.Competence in universal activities a.Understanding learning methods, and realizing how to apply them in everyday life. b.Realizing the importance of group cooperation . c.Learning global compassion. 6.Competence in information education a.Being familiar with the operation of Windows software, tools and programs, management of computer files, operation of applied software. b.Understanding multi-media equipment of pictures, images, animations and audio. c.Using Microsoft Excel to analyze statistics, and creating and imitating mathematical functions. d.Using basic computer operations (email, msn, www, ftp). e.Creating a web page and inderstand its impacts. f.Searching for suitable websites and library resources, as well as transfer files.

Project Elements

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

1.Communication Tools: a.E-mail: We used e-mail to transfer information and files, contact departments and organizations, and arrange interviews and meetings. We also exchanged opinions and proceeded with mutual help through e-mail. b.Telephone (cell and land lines): By phone we contacted relevant departments to book and confirm appointments for visiting and interviewing, obtained helpful information from relevant departments, and exchanged opinions and reminded each other of procedure supervision. 2.Tools of interviewing and recording: a.Digital recording pen: this kind of pen was used during interviews to record what interviewees said so that it would be convenient to arrange data and information in the future. b.Digital camera: Photographs of research subjects, interviewees, and Jian were taken to visually display results and link the written words to real people and concerns. c.Digital Video Camera: Filmed all interviews to preserve content, allow for content verification, and to use as reflective tools for interview questions and interview procedures. d.Microsoft WORD: Used word processing software to record the content of each interview and our thoughts, interpretations and analyses. 3.Tools for organizing data: a.Portable hard drive: The hard drive has a large memory space, allowing us to save more data and files. b.Disk: Students who do not have internet at home could choose to save their personal information on disk, allowing them to work at home and at school efficiently. c.Scanner: A scanner was used to scan students’ work and pictures. d.Graphic and photographic programs: Painter and PhotoImpact8 are used in the school’s computer room. They were required to make ‘Thank You’ cards and electronic photo albums, and to correcting picture files. e.Internet: Relevant agricultural news, history, and reports of activities concerning rice were collected through the Internet. f.Books, newspapers, government publications. 4.Tools for making web pages: PhotoImpact8, Dreamweaver MX, FrontPage Express, ws-ftp, Painter. 5.Others: a.Oral interviews and written notes: contents during discussion meetings and interviews were recorded. b.Laptop computer: the computer was used to record discussions during meetings and make presentations.

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

In the research process, with the help of teachers, we had opportunities to contact various Farmers’ Associations, Township offices and Government Bureaus of Agriculture. The interview method was used to obtain relevant information about the growth of the agricultural population and the transformation of the Jian agriculture sector. We also interviewed farmers using a prepared questionnaire. The results of the questionaire portray defined attitudes towards the development of the agricultural sector. We also found a great deal of data, information, and photographs, which were very helpful to the whole research, through various resources. Many parents and interviewees also gave us much support and encouragement. These people had crucial roles during the whole research.

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

At the beginning of the project (whose title is ‘Agriculture in Jian Township,’) the subject was, in fact, not strange to us. The reason is that we can easily see agricultural scenes everywhere in Jian. Some large areas are full of Cosmos Daisy (perennial coreopsis) and others full of golden rice stalks – staples of Jian agriculture. The scenes look like landscape paintings. However, behind the beautiful scenes, what problems do hard working farmers encounter? Few people know them. What do they need from society to help them? Does our hometown’s agricultural sector have a good future or not? In order to be able to answer these questions, our research team used lots of visits, analyses and discussions. Our research report can also let people better understand our hometown, as well as realize the hardworking nature of Jian’s, and Taiwan’s, farming communities. Through distributing and filling in these questionnaires, local primary school students and their parents were able to become familiar with and start facing the issue. Various questions were designed let people take diverse approaches to think through the bottleneck and future development of Jian’s agriculture. Understanding the close relation between Jian’s agriculture and her people is vital towards accomplishing the goal of a sustainable agriculture sector. Their awareness is key for comprehensive future development. We also hope that local people can work together to care about the beautiful and pristine landscape of Jian.

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

Some teachers supplied their professional experience, parents helped drive & pick us up when we researched or interview outside of school hours. Ms. Do, community leader and Hualien Government Agriculture Bureau Head, accepted our interview and talked openly of the future agricultural policy of Jian County.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

1.Discovery: Agriculture, a technology with a fine and long history, has passed through many tests of time from ancient methods up until today’s farming with modern tools, equipment, and chemicals. We interviewed many farmers and distributed many questionnaires through which we found that farmers had common problems. Aside from the W.T.O.’s impact on farmers, natural weather phenomenon and human impacts are affecting the viability of many farms. Specifically, the W.T.O.’s impact has led to a crisis in agricultural production and operations. Finally farmers leisured their farms to increase their incomes, avoiding the political structure of the globalization movement. 2.Lesson: We learned that the influence of the W.T.O. has caused a decrease in sales of agricultural products. This unbalanced situation of agricultural sales has caused serious damage to Jian’s rice farmers. Farmers once had control of their own production supplies, but now political influences have caused an inequity in sales based on their productions - their efforts were totally in vain. We visited many administrative departments, obtained the consistent answer that the agricultural population is decreasing yearly, all over Taiwan. Political stress, weather, physical job stress and a degredation of Hualien’s environment were all contributing factors to the decline. 3.Surprises: Interviews were the greatest surprise to us taking us to places we had never previously visited. Exploring, gaining new knowledge was great fun. Because of the project we had an opportunity to absorb new knowledge beyond our school books. For example, we learned how to evaluate agricultural products, how to identify poisonous worms that damage agricultural products, and about trademarks. We had never thought about these things in the past. Joining the ‘Internet World Online Exposition’ has allowed us to greatly enrich our minds. One visit, Grandpa Peng took the time to show us the ‘YOSHINO No. 1 rice’ that he grew and taught us how to identify genuine YOSHINO No. 1 rice. We had a chance to take part in farm work, making us realize that not only hard labour, but also skill is vital. It was not easy at all. We found that different products taste different and how different cooking styles bring out different tastes. When succulent dishes are served at a table, we should not forget the hard-working farmers behind the scenes supporting us. It is our duty to support them.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 4520)

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