CyberFair Project ID: 1900

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Making Mendocino a Special Place
Category: 3. Business and Community Organizations
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Mendocino Middle School
    Mendocino, California, United States

40 students, ages from 11 to 13 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 29, 2002. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2002

Classes and Teachers: Mark Morton, Deena Zarlin

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Mendocino is a small historic town of Victorian style buildings on the coast of California about 150 miles north of San Francisco. The area attracts many tourists and is know for its natural beauty. Mendocino is also know for the generous spirit of community that exists among the residents. Local families, with roots going back to the timber industry in the late 1800s, artists who began coming to Mendocino in the 1950s, people moving "back to the land" in the 60s, and recent retirees or business telecommuters all make up the lively mix that calls the Mendocino coast home. The school district, covering over 450 miles of curvy, back-country roads, has 800 K-12 students and is nationally respected for the quality of its programs in technology and project-based learning.

2. Summary of Our Project

Mendocino Middle School students in the 2nd semester computer elective classes developed a web directory of community organizations that rely heavily on volunteers. During the class the students collected information on community groups and then each created a web page for a selected group. The more technologically advanced students learned to write html code to create the opening page of the website. Those students also did the troubleshooting and made sure each page was complete and working correctly.

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:more than 6

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

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

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

Our district owns and operates an ISP (Mendocino Community Network)) that provides internet service to all the schools, provides free dial-up services to teachers and provides paid subscription dial-up, ISDN, cable or wireless service to customers throughout California. MCN came about through an original grant from NASA for teachers to develop curriculum that utilized the Internet. When the grant was over the district opened up subscription access to the community. At the present time MCN has over 5000 customers. It employs 18 local people, provides internships for many high school students and provides free or deeply reduced Internet services to the schools, teachers and nonprofit community groups.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

One of the major barriers was time. Two separate groups of students met four days a week. There was no time for students from the different groups to work together. Getting consensus with 40 students in the two classes was a challenge. Making sure each class got equal input was also a challenge. The teachers had to relay information between the two groups and we also had to rely on different groups in different classes taking on small parts. This led to some fragmentation. Small subcommittees met outside of class (after school, or during lunch or break) to work on specific things, like the design of the opening page or the coding for the menus. Another problem was the wide range of skills represented in the computer elective. Some students had no skills and others were very advanced. The first task was to teach everyone enough basics to work on the project. Of course the "experts" helped other students and tasks were given so there was something for everyone to feel proud of.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

This project has really enhanced our skills on the computer. It took a lot of hard work and getting used to working together. While making the information web pages about the different groups in our community we were reminded about the wonderful groups around us. —R.B. 7th grade student

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

The project was conducted by Mendocino Middle school students in computer elective class. The class teaches basics of keyboarding, word processing, spreadsheet and database, computer graphics and design, internet searching and web page development. To begin the project students explored the CyberFair site and looked at past projects. They noted features they liked at other sites. They discussed the entry categories and generated a list of ideas for the project. The groups agreed to work on the "business and community groups" category since it seemed that creating a central web presence for local volunteer groups was needed and would benefit the community. We began by getting lists of local community groups through brainstorming as well as looking in the newspaper, chamber of commerce list and a newly published coastal resource directory put out by the Healthy Children's Families program. A categorized list of community groups was created. Taking one community group as an example, directed lessons were given on how to create tables, change background colors and import images into a web page. Students each selected a community group and each worked to design a "prototype page" that all students would use as they found information about their community group. Students shared their prototype designs. and got class feedback. A standard format was chosen and developed. Students began working with the standard format to input information about their chosen group. Students used the newspaper, chamber of commerce and coastal resource directory to get information about their group. They also searched the web to see if their group had a website. Students made phone calls to some groups when further information was needed that was not available from the collected sources. A subcommittee of students was formed to create the color scheme for pages in each category.

Project Elements

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

Our project was developed on 25 iMacs in a computer lab. We stored it on a server house at Mendocino Community Network, the ISP owned by our school district. We used a telephone in the computer lab for calling organizations for information. The web pages were developed in Netscape Composer. We used AppleWorks for some graphic development. Advanced students developed some of the site in html, using SimpleText and Netscape Composer.

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

Students used a resource directory created by a local group to get some organizational information. The group was very enthusiastic that the students were putting their information on line. We hope that the students' project is the beginning of a relationship which will help the organization get the directory information out to a greater number of people. Students also made phone calls to contact people in the various organizations to get more information. The people called were please to know the school was recognizing their work.

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

The project has fostered greater discussion between students and parents about volunteerism. It has helped students recognize that many adults they know perform service to the community. Students now understand that many important needs in the community are addressed by volunteers and they see that they are in a position to volunteer as well.

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

This entry was used as a way to teach technology skills to middle school students. Several students took on larger design and programming challenges that required getting expertise from the local internet service provider, Mendocino Community Network (MCN) when they ran into problems. The school district technology coordinator also helped students figure out "bugs".  The students took on the role of mentors to each other and worked cooperatively to put the project together. It was gratifying to watch the genuine collaborative interaction between some of the technologically savvy students who often have trouble working with others and tend toward an individualistic approach.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 1900)

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