CyberFair Project ID: 5039

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: A Healthy World - Pneumonia, the Silent Killer
Category: 7. Environmental Awareness

School: International School of Kuala Lumpur
    Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malaysia

2 students, ages 12, 14 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 7, 2007. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2007

Classes and Teachers: Ann Whiting, Michael, Patrick

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Team

Our Doors to Diplomacy team is composed of two people - Patrick (12) and Michael (14), who are siblings. The Doors to Diplomacy contest was one that we discovered through an e-mail my parents received. At first, Michael was the only one interested - and Patrick needed further persuasion. As it was already December, time was of the essence. Michael served as project manager. As a freshman in High School, it was Michael who led the project, assigning tasks to himself and to his brother. He was also the main website designer, drawing on the skills he learned from his Web Authoring Class at school. Patrick was in charge of' research, finding information and organizing it to create a coherent case. Both Michael and Patrick helped spread awareness in the school community - though they both had to overcome their fear of asking strangers to fill out surveys and talking about the issues with them!

Four adults have helped immensely in this project. Our parents, who are both involved in international development, challenged us and provided invaluable support through thought provoking conversations with them. They also guided us to organize our ideas. Ann Whiting, Patrick's English teacher at the International School of Kuala Lumpur, served as editor and school sponsor. Kevin Starr, a medical doctor, helped us redirect our efforts to pneumonia, instead of malaria which we worked on originally.

2. Summary of Our Project

What disease do you think is the biggest global killer? Malaria? AIDS? If you guessed those, you'd be wrong. Acute Respiratory Infections - a majority of which are Pneumonia - are the cause of death for 4 million people every year, 1 million more than AIDS, and 3 million more than Malaria. Yet, 85% of people we surveyed reported that the disease they most often heard about in the media was HIV/AIDS. 60% chose HIV/AIDS as the disease they thought killed the most people each year (less than 10% thought that it was Acute Respiratory Infections).

The awareness for this global killer practically does not exist - this website aims to change that, and raise awareness for this devastating disease. What can be done to stop this silent killer of the poor?

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:2-3

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

We faced many problems which we were able to overcome, to successfully complete this project. The first obstacle had to do with time - as we only found out about the project in December, it was vital that we budget our time effectively. With several competing school commitments, at times it was hard to complete the deadlines we set for ourselves, though in the end it all worked out.

We also faced a significant change in direction, in the decision we made on what our project was to be about. You can read more about that here:

5. Our Project Sound Bite

The influence this project has had on our classmates is one of the most telling signs of this project's success - especially in relation to the survey we conducted, when people found out that Acute Respiratory Infections killed the most people each year (not HIV/AIDS as many suspected), they were shocked - and eager to know more.

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

As the primary purpose of our website was education, we needed to ensure that our website could do just that - not just for older people, but for our age group as well, teenagers like us. In order to do this, we needed to balance both making the topic interesting and easy to understand and making sure we got our message across.

Many of the things we learned in school were applied to this website. Most readily apparent is the website - which Michael, as web designer, was able to design by himself as a result of the Web Authoring classes he took. Patrick, the one 'uneducated' in HTML, learned basic HTML so he could edit the content himself. Of course, as siblings it is our brotherly obligation to fight - however, for this project, we needed to put any differences we had aside in order to work together as a team, assigning tasks to one another and ensuring those tasks were completed.

Furthermore, in World Studies (Social Studies) class, and in after school activities such as Model United Nations (MUN), topics such as poverty reduction and health have been discussed repeatedly - this website serving as an extension of them.

The Internet has proven to be a valuable teaching tool, because it can reach both those within our community, and outside it. Word of our website was spread to dozens of people via e-mail, through forums, and through friends - which would not have been possible without the internet.

Project Elements

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

The biggest aid in creating this website was through the internet. As we have internet access at home, we were able to research and find information from a virtually limitless source of information. However, at the same time, we had to ensure that this information was balanced, and accurate, which was done by cross-referencing the information we found.

At times, however, technology refused to cooperate with us. Problems with Michael's computer resulted in several pages of data being lost - meaning it had to be done again. Even Mother Nature conspired against us - when an earthquake struck off the coast of Taiwan, our internet access at home was affected. To solve this, we resorted to staying after school and using our prep and study periods at school to do our research. Our computers, the internet, and scanner proved to be very valuable during the course of this project. Our ability to “talk” through MSN and Google chat allowed us to instantly exchange ideas about this topic with other people.

The information found for this project came from a variety of sources - the internet, magazines such as TIME and The Economist and newspapers. This wide variety of sources allowed us to get a diverse and balanced collection of information.

In creating the website, programs such as Adobe Photoshop were used to create the initial design. Then, Notepad was used to code the layout. For our website and forum, we needed to use various computer languages and MySQL databases.

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

One of the most telling comments we received while conducting our survey - and raising awareness for Acute Respiratory Infections, especially Pneumonia, and how they killed the most people yearly - was one word: 'wow'. It was shockingly apparent how little many people knew about Pneumonia - it was a disease of the old, or something very few people got, in many of our classmates' minds. Michael runs a website with a forum that has close to 2000 members - information about our project was posted and highlighted there, in order to raise awareness in communities outside of our own. The large majority of members there are teenagers, just like us - raising awareness within our age group is one of the most important things we have sought to achieve.

Within our community, we acted as spokesmen - our project was also advertised on the front page of the Friday Flash (the school's weekly newspaper, which reaches all families of the 1,000+ students at the school). We also requested that the administration post information of our project on the school BBS (or forum), which is accessed by every student. We printed out dozens and dozens of flyers advertising the website and made them available in various places for people to pick up. We sought mention in The Star, a national Malaysian newspaper. In the future, we'll seek further mention in our school magazine, as well as another Malaysian magazine called 'The Expat'.

In addition, Michael, at an IASAS (Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools) Convention in Jakarta, Indonesia (held from March 7 to March 12), spoke to representatives from 6 different international schools, to raise awareness in schools outside of our own. Michael will have another opportunity to talk about our work at the Model United Nations conference (BEIMUN 2007) in Beijing, China (March 14-16).

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

When posed with the question - what difference will one website make? - it is hard to answer. Our website tackles an important question, one that still has not answers – Why is so little money put on Pneumonia and Acute Respiratory Infections?

Why is there so little awareness for this disease that kills 4 million people each year? This website serves an important role in informing people of the desperate needs of millions of people around the world - the need for basic healthcare, for food, for sanitation; the need to rid the world of poverty. Out website raises the question - why? and then the more important question - what can we do?

In creating this website, awareness of these issues was spread throughout our community and through virtual communities on the internet - the website spread through website postings and forwarded e-mails.

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

We are most indebted to our parents, who were there to push us and help us throughout this journey. We are also indebted to Ann Whiting, a teacher at our school, helped us out in achieving school sponsorship (though Patrick needed to work up the courage to ask first :P). Thank you to Mr. Webber, Mr. Martin, and Mr. Kramer of ISKL, who helped us during Debate Club practice on the topic “Should a Just Government provide Health Care to its Citizens?”. A special ‘Thank you’ also goes to the staff of the Friday Flash (our school newspaper), who we contacted via e-mail to see if it was possible to get mentioned in it. Thank you to the staff at the The Star (a daily paper in Malaysia) for considering the inclusion of a piece about our project.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 5039)

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