CyberFair Project ID: 1805

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: On the Track to Our History
Category: 6. Historical Landmarks
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Susquehanna Community Schools
    Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, United States

26 students, ages from 7 to 15 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: Mrs. Kathy Matis and the Gifted and Talented Classes

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Our community is a pretty basic community, but we have the nice, polite people we need to give moral support and to make this project possible. When we started our web page we didn’t have the information to compete with any opposing schools. We turned to the community for help; they certainly came through for us. To say the least, this project could not have been possible if they didn’t help. Our geographic community includes: Starrucca, Thompson, Deposit, and Susquehanna. All these communities were formed due to the railroad. The Erie railroad broke around Deposit in 1835, so that’s about 167 years that the people have dedicated their lives to the railroad. Just as the railroad helped form our town, when it left, it caused a great decline in our economy and most people left the area. Our community is a railroad community and some people stayed here because of their love of the railroad. When the railroad left, for some people, it didn’t mean their interest, and pride in the railroad left too. Our project addresses those railroad buffs that have a life-long interest in the railroad. When they find out about this site, they will be able to go there and reminisce upon their past. Small it may be, but our community has a rich past. Its heritage is well known throughout the area. Susquehanna’s history is something we all are proud to mention in our everyday lives, and will be from now on.

2. Summary of Our Project

Students will research historical landmarks that are in our area in connection with the railroad that once contributed to part of a thriving community. Students will find out about the history of our area, and how our history changed when the Erie Railroad no longer needed the services of the workers in our community.

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:4-6

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

We have a school network with a T1 connection that hosts our school web page as well as this site. Our class was held once per week in one of our computer labs, where we have 35 computers in which only 12 computers are loaded with Microsoft Front Page. All of the computers are loaded with Microsoft Word and Paint that we used in our project. Nearly all of the students involved in Cyberfair have computer access at home.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

Our gifted class had many obstacles that we had to overcome. A major problem was the limited time we had because we only had one period per week to work on our project. Another problem that occurred was cancellations and delays of the Susquehanna school because of ice and snow. The small amount of information that we could find on the Internet on Starrucca, Thompson, and Susquehanna was also a major obstacle. We dealt with these problems very wisely. We did this by scheduling our classes around the cancellations and delays. We also dealt with these problems by asking our elders for information on our towns and using books based on our town’s history instead of using the Internet as our only resource. If we had used the Internet as our only source, this project would not be what it is today. Some students did not have an interest in this project, and when they did not finish their chosen assignments, it put more responsibility on the rest of us.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Our project that we have entered in the 2002 Cyber Fair has taught us more about the history and the point of origin of our town. What it has taught us is that by learning more about our history we can control what is to happen in the future. In doing this project, it has meant that our students of Susquehanna Community School District are dedicated to beginning and fulfilling a project with a purpose.

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

Our project needed many different skills that we acquired from the courses that we have taken this year. Our project also needed many skills many of us have never used before such as using Microsoft Front Page. Some of the skills that we needed to use for the writing part if our project included: writing skills, spelling skills, and grammar skills. These skills helped tremendously with our Project Narrative Essays; this part of the project took us a very large amount of time. Research skills also came in very handy when we ran into a short supply of information on the smaller towns in our community. Our school standards fit into the Pennsylvania State standards, and we used history, English, and computer skills. Our Gifted Group used many group concepts such as cooperative learning; we also all worked together to research the scarce information on several of the small towns in our community. All of the information that we learned through this project did not come from a text book, but from the elders in the community and from the Internet. The strands for history addressed are PA Standard— 8.2.A--Understand the Political and Cultural Contributions of Individual Groups to Pennsylvania History 8.2.B—Identify and describe primary sources, material artifacts, and historic sites important to Pennsylvania History 8.2.C—Identify and describe how change and continuity have affected Pennsylvania history (i.e. commerce) 8.2.C—Identify and describe conflict and cooperation among social groups and organizations in Pennsylvania history (i.e. immigrants) Many strands of the Pennsylvania standards for Reading, Writing, Listening , and Speaking were addressed, not only through the narrative writing for the project and the essays, but also the presentation to the Susquehanna Boro Council and the upcoming presentation to the Susquehanna School Board and the Susquehanna Historical Society.

Project Elements

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

For our project we used approximately fifteen PCs with Pentium 2 Processors. We did use the telephone to contact several sources. We used the school’s digital camera to take photos of artifacts at the museum and for our group picture on the website. We used the school’s scanner to scan the photos out of old books that we received from willing people, and we also used the scanner to scan pictures of monuments in Susquehanna onto the computer. We used Microsoft Word, Microsoft Photo Editor, Microsoft Paint, Microsoft Front Page, and the Internet. We used the Town Library and the High School Library to get books and find information. We used old books and old newspapers to find information on Starrucca, Thompson, and Susquehanna. We took a trip to the Susquehanna Historical Society Museum in downtown Susquehanna to talk to people and get pictures/information of old artifacts. We interviewed many former workers on the railroad from Susquehanna, Thompson, and Starrucca who gave us very good information on the history of the railroad. We located the tools by asking for information from senior citizens, and the Internet. The Susquehanna Community Schools approved hosting our site on our school server. The books we received from the senior citizens were our most important tool since the Internet didn’t have hardly any information on Susquehanna, Thompson, and Starrucca. The computer was our most helpful technology with all of its Microsoft programs.

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

Our gifted class acted as ambassadors by talking to senior citizens. When we went to the historical society we talked to people about our town’s history. We went to the borough council meeting to talk to the borough council about our project. We will be presenting our project at the school board meeting in April. After meeting with Mr. David Lee we found out some interesting facts and stories. He had learned these stories from his father and uncle who had worked with the railroad. We also developed a relationship with our town’s senior citizens. The senior citizens also helped us by providing information on our town’s history. Mr. Lee, as well as a few of the other contacts we used, commented on how this project was a great idea. The mayor of Susquehanna has stated her pleasure in our project. Nearly all of the students involved made an effort to contact a person in the community to find out information to benefit the project. We have had support from our principals and the superintendent for this project. One of our students contacted a member of the railfan website for permission to use photos of the Starrucca Viaduct. Our town library and the staff at the museum have gone out of their way to make this a positive experience for us by donating their time, experiences, photos, and anything else we have needed to get this project off the ground.

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

Our project might make a difference in our community. Since it will be posted on the school’s website, a large portion of the student body will view it. Hopefully, they will take the time to read it and learn something about our town and its history. This presentation is very unique to Susquehanna and the surrounding areas. No one has ever made a web page like ours. There are websites on the Internet that provide information about the Viaduct and our town, but nothing as complex as ours. We’ve taken the three boroughs that make up our school district, researched the historic sites, and made a web page out of it. Everyone that contributed to the project learned something new about our town. A large group of students never knew that The Shops had existed. The two students that wrote the Starrucca Viaduct article learned about the ferry, “Erskine”, that operated in the Susquehanna River. The makeup of our community has changed since the railroad left. Many older people remember the days of the railroad, but with the decline in the economic status of the area, a large number of young adults have left the area. Several of the new people in Northeast PA have come here from New Jersey and Philadelphia and know nothing about the history of the town. Therefore, there children who are currently students in our school system do not have this sense of connection with our history. These new residents are coming from a generation that is computer savvy, however, and this makes a way for us to bridge the gap with the history of our area and the new residents, and also the younger generation of students who will now become aware of our history.

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

Many other people besides the students contributed to this project. Without their help and cooperation, this project would not have been able to happen. The Susquehanna Historical Society helped us greatly with this project. They opened their museum for us so we could take a trip to it and learn more about the history of our area. Cal Arthur, Gene Price, and Donald Day explained to us about the history, artifacts, and the old buildings that used to be here and the things that were in the museum. We interviewed some people on the different towns and buildings in our area. Other people let us borrow books. We were able to ask these people for help because they are our neighbors and relatives. They were of great help to our project by supporting us with the information that we needed. We were able to learn a lot more information from these helpers. A complete list of all our helpers is located on our Thank You page. THANK YOU!!!!!

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

We made several interesting discoveries during this project. One of the most surprising discoveries that we made was the amount of people that lived in Susquehanna. Nearly 4,000 people lived in Susquehanna when the railroad was the major industry. When the railroad was working at full capacity of 2000 workers, many employees commuted to Susquehanna each day to work. Today, the population is about 2,000 and nearly everyone commutes to another area to work. Another interesting discovery was how many businesses were here. Since The Shops were destroyed before everyone in the Gifted Class was born, we didn’t know much about them. Most of us didn’t even know that these shops existed. Main Street had many more businesses than it does today. The Starrucca House, which is still in use today as a restaurant, also served as a hotel in the early 1900s. There were several hotels in the area at that time to service railroaders and visitors. However, at this time, we have no available hotels. The town itself was very industrialized. The shops and repair shops were full of activity, and almost all of downtown Susquehanna was one huge rail yard. Today, it’s a parking lot for the local shopping plaza. While visiting the historical society, we heard some unusual stories. An example of these stories would be the one about the Viaduct and the cow. A cow had fallen off the Viaduct and onto a house. This story is said to be true, however others have said it is totally made up. This project has done a lot to educate us about our history. It also taught us a lot about Susquehanna and it’s surrounding communities. The information we have recovered during this project is probably the most valuable information of Susquehanna and its heritage.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 1805)

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