CyberFair Project ID: 1295

Close this Window

NOTE: Due to URL changes, some links may no longer be valid.

International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Blossom of the Tropics
Category: 4. Local Specialties
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School
    Singapore, -, Singapore

5 students, ages from 14 to 16 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 14, 2001. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000

Classes and Teachers: Miss Quek Soo Hiang

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

A few decades ago, our forefathers from all over the world landed on the shores of Singapore. For their blood, sweat, determination and tears, Singapore became the global financial hub she is today. Like many Singaporeans, our national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim’s ancestral roots are foreign, yet it is totally at home in Singapore, and has adapted well to the physical conditions. It rapidly established its name and flourished in Singapore, then throughout South-east Asia and later in Hawaii, Florida, tropical America and Sri Lanka. The ingredients of the success stories of Singapore and the wealth of free-flowering orchids one sees is not a gift of nature but the result of the single-minded purpose of our pioneers and a lot of hard work and patience. Thus, this similarity is rather symbolic to our citizens especially those who had persevered and struggled for the success of Singapore. Besides developing and changing Singapore from an insignificant island to an advanced country today, our forefathers brought along with them the different cultures from their homeland and turned Singapore into a whole new multi-racial country. Each and every race has its own unique culture and practices. Hence, the National Flower was a part of an overall effort to foster national pride and identity. However, due to our busy and hectic lifestyle, young, old, alike, are neglecting to make a determined effort to learn something about their very own national flower. To ultimately help Singaporeans to get the right concept about their national flower, we must first start introducing Vanda Miss Joaquim and other significant orchids to the community. We hope that our readers will be more accquainted with the wide variety of wonderful orchids that Singapore possesses.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our Senior Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, had called out to Singapore to make our homeland a green, shady city filled with fruits and flowers. Orchids, being a splendid flower for landscaping were a contributing factor to this call, hence, there are now hundreds of gorgeous orchids in Singapore. We named our project “Blossom of the Tropics” as orchids bloom and display its full glory best in the tropical region. Orchids have long been identified with Singapore and everyone associates Singapore with them. Some of the orchids’ origins and the reason why they are popular in Singapore are discussed in our project.

Our project is presented in the form of a garden theme, the whole project is linked with a eye-soothing green colour. The mascot of our project is a leaf, which symbolises that Singapore is a clean and green city. We feel that we should bring the readers’ attention to the leaves as it plays a rather important role. People will usually tend to neglect the leaves when they are looking at the orchid flowers but the leaves of the orchid plants provide one way in which we can differentiate the different types of orchids. When the readers join us for a walk in the “Blossom of the Tropics”, the “Entrance” will give them a general overview of our project. They will then be brought to have a look at our elegant and special National Flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim, allowing them to be immersed in a heaven of orchids.

As they move further into the ‘garden’, they will find more and more orchids awaiting them. ‘Orchid Grex’ will introduce the various commercial orchids, VIP orchids, native orchids and bioluminescent orchids (glowing orchids). Besides that, they will get to find out the various impacts they orchids have on Singapore as they stroll through ‘Impacts’. When they feel tied, they can take a breather at ‘Relax’. Here, they can find fun activities waiting for them and there will be a short quiz to test their newly acquired knowledge on orchids.

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:1

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:not sure

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:2-3

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

There are several obstacles that stood in our way during our process in doing the project.

When we first decided to do on Singapore orchids, we thought that it would a relatively easy topic to work on. However, reality proved us wrong. Although Singapore has Vanda Miss Joaquim as our National Flower, there is limited information on it. Hence, much time has been spent on researching for this information while doing the project. We tried to contact some of the organisations and companies involved to request for some information.

Secondly, as we started on our project rather late, we had to fight against time to finish it. It was hard for us to compromise one another’s time as we come from different classes, had different schedules and commitments. Time management is an important skill that we have to master and discovering our different forte and assigning tasks was a challenge. In trying to counter the problem faced, all the group members tried to set aside some time to have a group meeting every week whereby we will evaluate every group members’ progress.

Another problem we faced was the time constraint for continual editing and revising that needed to take place on the individual members’ pages. Everyone had to make additional changes to their pages and at that point, we found ourselves circulating our Zip disks around for updating and wasted a lot of time. To solve this problem, we printed out all the pages and had a group review to make all the necessary changes. After finalising, all the pages are compelled into the leader’s Zip disk to be uploaded.

Due to the lack in knowledge of various webpage-making skills such as HTML and Java Script, several technical problems arose when we were in the process of completing our project but we managed to counter them after consulting some of our seniors and through some research. In addition, the conflict of ideas was inevitable but we would usually discuss the issue as a group and come to a compromise.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

One cannot stand alone. Through this CyberFair 2001, we have strengthened our relationship and realised that only when we stand as one can we complete the project. This will be an experience that will be with us forever.

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

Time spent on creating the project, from the research for information till the completion of the project, has indeed been an enriching and memorable experience. As Vanda Miss Joaquim, our National Flower is also an orchid, orchids are therefore considered part of everybody's lives. Thus, having done in depth research on Singapore orchids concerning our community, we were all the more prepared to answer questions from all our information at our fingertips. We learnt a lot during the process of doing the project. We learnt to sort, collate and organise points for our information. Also, we got to know each and every one of the group members better in the process. In addition, many relevant skills such as communication skills when we tried to contact the various organizations and companies were picked up on the way. What made our CyberFair project even more beneficial was the fact that our school curriculum required us to do a Civics and Moral Education project featuring some of our national symbols and how it affects us. This includes the national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim. This task was made easier for us as we already had much information and knowledge about Singapore orchids. With the more frequent use of the IT tools during this period when we are doing our project, our IT skills have improved and we are able to use the programs more effectively and confidently.

Project Elements

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

Many tools were used while completing our project. Pentium III Computers in our school’s computer lab were used. Softwares such as Adobe Photoshop 5.5 and Adobe Illustrator 9.0 were used to enhance our graphics. In addition, with Macromedia Flash 5.0, we created the front page of the enhanced version. Microsoft FrontPage 98 helped us tremendously when we do not have to type out all the HTML ourselves. These programmes were mainly available in the school’s system and our personal computers at home. Internet conferencing software, such as ICQ and mIRC, allowed us to communicate from our own homes at night when we cannot meet as a group. Telephones played a vital part too so that we can contact each other. We used the facsimile to contact the various companies/organizations to arrange interviews and to ask for the copyright. Information on our project was located from the newspapers, microfilms, books from the libraries and individuals from the various companies/organizations whom we contacted. Furthermore, oral interviews were conducted to find out more about the community’s relationship with Singapore orchids. Tape recorders are used to record the interviews for future reference. The Internet was used to source for the required information and to contact the various publishers, companies, organizations, regarding the copyright and the arrangement of interviews. Scanners from the school’s computer lab or home are used to scan and digitise our graphics. The television helped us to find out more ways in which orchids are related to our community. Cameras are used to capture the exotic orchids and memorable snapshots when we made several visits to the orchid gardens and organizations. The two main browsers: Netscape and Internet Explorer were used to test the cross-browser compatibility of our project. All the above-mentioned technologies and tools are helpful in creating our project as it would not have been possible to create our project without them.

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

While doing our CyberFair project, there are many occasions whereby we have to act as “ambassadors” and spokesperson both on-line and in person. To obtain copyrights to several publications, we had to send formal letters or electronic mails to several companies and organizations to request for their permission in the use of the contents of that particular publication. In addition, we also approached our wise teachers to help edit our text and letters. Besides these, we also conducted a survey on people from all walks of life around us, and interviewed some teachers and professionals regarding some questions relevant to our project. After the completion of our project, we presented our project to our teachers, friends and family members to ask for their feedback so that we could improve our project. All of them were very impressed by the graphics and information in our project, which covers many different aspects of Singapore orchids. They were amazed by some of the things mentioned in our project as they have never come across it in the past. However, there were also some of them who feel that we should include more animation in our project to further enhance it and make it more interactive.

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

We live in Singapore, one of the best cities in the world, yet we just carry out our daily activities, without trying to understand our country’s shared values, which will help us develop a Singaporean identity. We need to take practical steps to weave them into our way of life. Hence, through our project on orchids, we took an appealing approach to educate Singaporeans, especially the younger generation. The society will be provided with an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of Singapore orchids and their significance to the society.

Having a ‘garden’ theme has made readers feel more at ease while browsing through our project. We had also categorised the information into various sections for easier navigation.

Throughout the process of completing our project, we had worked closely with several companies and organisations. While establishing and maintaining working relationships with them, our workload became easier to manage. When we visited the various organisations, the personnel-in-charge were very glad and touched that young students made an effort to research on topics related to orchids to foster a stronger sense of unity amongst the community.

Through the survey we conducted, many have also learnt a great deal about orchids especially Vanda Miss Joaquim and how the government is promoting them to the population. Eventually, many realised that orchids are more than a simple beautiful flower and have come to be more aware of the greenery around them. They learnt to appreciate the beauty the plants brought our achievements in the orchid industry. Our teachers and schoolmates viewed our web site and gave us their most valuable comments and advice. Comments include our web site was giving problems when viewed in another browser. In order to solve this problem, we consulted our various friends and seniors.

However, the full impact on the community is never known until the project is published on the web and is viewed by many.

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

While doing our project, we acquired much invaluable advice from our teachers, seniors, the various organisations and well-wishers we approached. We are indeed most grateful to the organisations and individuals who supported us through. The Mandai Orchid Garden set us off on our project giving us ideas on what to include in the project. The RISIS Company had also helped us a lot. They kindly allowed us to patronise their factory to view the process of gold-plating orchids, which was clearly explained. It was a real eye opener for all of us. Teachers like Miss Quek, Mrs Lai and Miss Yeo had also helped us to evaluate the project.

In addition, due to the lack of knowledge on orchids, we e-mailed the OSSEA (Orchid Society of Southeast Asia) and Mr Ben Naden, Mr John Elliot and Ms Peggy Tan from the society had kindly answered some of our queries and gave us permission to use his pictures of orchids from his personal web page.

Professor Chia Tett Fatt from the National Institute of Education is also very understanding and helpful to provide us with vital information we needed on his ingenious discovery.

Mr Vincent Hee from Board of Commissioners of Currency for answering our questions

Mr Alex Loo from the InterAuct! Pte Ltd for permitting us to use the information from the webpage (

Our journey would not be as smooth sailing if not for our caring teachers, classmates, and graduated seniors. They gave us ideas and made sure we are on the right path. To all who had helped us in one way or another, we would like to say a big thank you. We would also like to thank the organisers for giving us this chance to take part in the competition, it was through this competition that we learn to share and unite.

Last but not least, we would like to thank our parents for their support through the trails and tribulations.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

In the process of making this project, many interesting discoveries, lesson and surprises were made. We learnt to see things in different perspective and think of different ways to source for materials. When we come to a dead end, we would try our best to find a way out. We firmly believe that no matter how difficult the situation is, we would always find a way out.

During the process of this project, it dawned on us that orchids are more than a flower. We saw how orchids adapted to their surroundings from the time our forefathers landed on the shore of Singapore to the “Garden City” now. We realised the importance of the message sent out by our National Flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim and of why she was chosen as our nation pride.

While looking for social impacts orchids have on Singapore, we found out that they actually used fresh flowers for gold plating orchids. It came as a surprise to us only when we went to the factory to view the whole process for ourselves.

When we just embarked on the project, we went to the National Orchid Garden and the Mandai Orchid Garden to get some background knowledge on our topic. There, through interviews with the personnel-in-charge, we learnt that the “mother” plant is the plant in which the pollen from another plant is incorporated into. The “father” plant is the plant from which the pollen is taken from.

In order to supplement our information, we scoured through old microfilms and books related on the subject at the National Library of Singapore. Our efforts were paid off when we finally found an article that divulged the final resting place of Miss Agnes Joaquim in the Armenian Church and we went down to visit it.

We had also discovered that two heads are better than one and that unity is strength. Whenever we face a problem, we would consult each other, exchange ideas and support each other in times of need. When we get together, the session became an enriching and fun-filled session of working together.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 1295)

Close this Window