CyberFair Project ID: 2200

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Genetically Modified Crops
Category: 4. Local Specialties
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Ogilvie High School
    Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

3 cr students, ages 14-16 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 21, 2003. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2003

Classes and Teachers: Mrs R Teirney, Dr D Harington, Liz, Zara, Sasha-lee

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Team

Hi. We’re the GM Crops team from Ogilvie High School in Tasmania, Australia. We’d like to introduce ourselves.

Liz (15) is a calm, hardworking person. She is the youngest of a family of four children. Liz is interested in reading, art, music and science. She plays the flute. Liz has taken on the role of group secretary.

Zara (15) at first seems quiet, but holds strong opinions. Zara is patient and expresses herself very tactfully. She enjoys working in small groups. Zara is the middle child in her family of three girls. She plays the violin and is excellent at dancing and gymnastics. Zara has completed much of the drafting of the content of the GM Crops site.

Sasha-lee is the most experienced computer person in the group. She has been creating websites and computer games since eighth grade. Sasha-lee (15) is vivacious and happy. She is the eldest in her family, having two younger sisters. Sasha-lee loves basketball and volleyball. She won a medal at the Australian National Titration Competition.

All group members are well-organised, ambitious, determined people who don't mind taking risks. We describe ourselves as committed and interested in learning beyond the traditional classroom. That's why when we heard about "Doors to Diplomacy" we all were interested and positive about taking on this challenge.

The first coach who supported us was Mrs Teirney, who taught us English in ninth grade. She is the one who told us about the competition and supervised our after-school meetings. Once we decided on our topic, we approached Dr Harington, a Science teacher on our school staff, to be our Scientific advisor. He had some good contacts and advice for us and having recently completed his doctorate, he was pleased to mentor us and encourage us to set high goals for ourselves.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our Doors to Diplomacy web project is about a controversial issue in Science and Technology - Genetically Modified Crops. We created our page to help kids learn about the scientific facts of Genetic Engineering, otherwise known as Genetic Modification. We tried to make it clear but simple, so that it was understandable for young people. We encourage the people who visit our site to be informed and to express their opinions on the issue in a peaceful manner. The internet is a useful tool in global discussion, because it enables people from around the world to come together in an unbiased place and learn from each other. We have included information pages, links to sites for and against, activities such as poll, quiz, guestbook and the main part of our discussion, the student forum. It has also been a learning opportunity for us. We have gained experience and confidence, not only with this particular topic but with problem-solving and computer skills in general.

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: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):

Our school has three large computer labs and six smaller hubs. In one building block at our school there is one computer in each classroom. Our resource center (affectionately known as the library) also has ten computers available. The senior students at our school volunteer to co-ordinate a roster of supervision of the computer labs at lunchtime and before school, so that students without computers at home can still develop their skills.

We each have a computer at home, but have varying degrees of access. We have used e-mail to share ideas in between group meetings and to communicate with outside organizations.

We have all had experience in online bulletin board discussions in our English class and the State Government of Tasmania has set up a Student Forum facility, which they encourage students all around our state to visit.

Despite the challenges, it has been very enjoyable making this website.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

Coming together as a group, even a small group of three, took quite a lot of negotiation because we are all very busy after school. Mrs Teirney let us plan our site in class but she could not talk with us exclusively because there were 27 other class members. Zara had to miss gymnastics a few times to get the project started but soon we had settled into a routine.

Choosing our second coach took a little while. Whereas we were all in the one English class, we had different Science teachers, so we were unable to make a quick decision. Mrs Teirney suggested Dr Harington as a suitable coach because of his background as a practising scientist and his interest in websites and once he started meeting with us we were very grateful for his guidance.

Our first technical barrier came very early in the creative process. In her Information Technology course at school, Sasha-lee had learned how to create computer games using Klik-and-Play software. She spent several intense sessions creating a learning activity for GM Crops, only to be disappointed to discover that this could not be uploaded to the group’s website.

We had to be very careful to learn about our obligations with regard to copyright. We had trouble getting diagrams onto the webpages because the filesize was too great.

A huge challenge for us, being in the Southern hemisphere, was the fact that our Summer holiday took us out of contact from each other for eight weeks of the “Doors to Diplomacy” timeframe. We have had to work hard in the time we had available.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Genetic modification of crops - is it here to stay in our world? Doors to Diplomacy has raised the awareness of this controversial Science and Techology issue in our school community. Visit our site and have your say.

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

Our Doors to Diplomacy project has met the requirements of Tasmania's newly developed Curriculum Framework. Our state has identified the following five ESSENTIALS FOR LEARNING: Thinking, Communicating, Personal Futures, Social Responsibilities and World Futures. Our project has enabled us to set our own goals, solve real problems, learn in a real context and have a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Besides fulfilling a state priority, we are also following the philosophy of our school, Ogilvie High. Our school motto is "TODAY" which challenges us to be all we can be and maximise our potential as young women, making the most of the learning opportunities here and now.

We have utilised all the high-order thinking skills listed in Bloom's Taxonomy, synthesizing the skills, knowledge and attitudes we have formed in studying English, Science and Information Technology and setting our own goals and striving to achieve them, using the Mayer Key Competencies identified by the Government of Australia.

In our English class we are assessed on our groupwork, our ability to write for specific purposes and audiences, to write clearly and accurately and to reflect and adjust our goals as we go. In Science, we study a unit on Genetics, in particular how this controversy is dealt with by different groups in society. In Independent Learning Time, we must be totally responsible for our personal study for the time allocated and we get a chance to put together all we learn in the different school subjects in a holistic, meaningful way. Our school values learning in particular extra-curricular projects, just as much as in classes that we take. Using the internet will never take the place totally of talking to real teachers, but students at our school enjoy internet learning activities. We are encouraged to be creative on the world-wide web, not just consumers of what is on the net already.

Project Elements

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

During the competition, we have used computers, the internet, lots of books, donated papers, booklets and pamphlets from people around Australia, videos, television programs, library sources, newspapers, scanners, computer software and the telephone. Through using the phone we were able to also conduct oral interviews, giving us the opportunity to gain more knowledge through something we all like to do. We found the most valuable tool was the Internet as it enabled us to get in contact with people, find information and to produce our website. Without the tools that we have used we would not have been able to do our project at all. All three of us had no prior knowledge of Genetics and so the tools have been vital in the preparation of our website. We advertised our web page widely through the Internet and our school and have therefore received many donations of resources from around Australia. Many of the tools we used were available from our school library, local libraries and through our coaches. With the access and support we were given we were able to gain and build up ideas to produce our site.

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

We spoke to a Grade 10 Assembly on 19 March. We visited Science classes who were studying a unit on GENETICS.

We communicated with the full student body at Ogilvie High School by putting notices on the School's Daily News Sheet and weekly In Touch, asking our peers to participate in the online discussions and to check our website.

We promoted our website and our forum as widely as we could on the web, submitting our site to search engines and to e-mail lists of Science teachers and English teachers.

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

We feel that our web site will make a difference by allowing people to be more aware about Genetically Modified Crops and the foods they eat. If people are given the information about what they may already be eating then they will be given the choice of what they will and will not eat in the future. Our community, from what we have found out, do not know very much about G M crops or G M foods. Through promoting the site we have enabled them to have the opportunity to gain more knowledge about the issue and identify the foods that are genetically modified. We believe that our site has not only been taken notice of our local community but also by the rest of the world. We know of teachers around the rest of Australia who have already been on the site. They have sent us feedback about our site and have gotten their students to view our site as they learn about genetics within their classes as a part as the science curriculum. We know that Genetically Modified Crops is not a well known topic and so have given the background knowledge as well as the activities for people to learn from. We have tried to give everyone the opportunity to gain something from our site. From the feedback that we have got at the moment it appears that people have learnt something and are extremely happy with everything that we have done and are more aware of genetically modified crops.

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

We have had many people supporting us and helping us as our project has developed. Our main helpers were our coaches, the school library staff and the rest of the school community. They have given us the opportunity to develop something that we could not have done without their help. The library staff has given us after school access to the computers and has helped us find the information for us to do the research before and during the completion of our project. We have had the full support from our coaches who have backed us up from the start and finish. We have been able to count on them to guide us in the right direction when things didn’t seem so clear. We have truly valued their support more than anything. The school community has been able to support us in every possible way. This has been through giving us the opportunity to promote our site and talk to our peers about what we have done. Through the principal we have been able to get messages out to people about our site and through talking with teachers, get people to visit the site. We have been extremely grateful not only for their support but for the support we have given each other.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

We originally designed our project on Genetically Modified Crops as registered entrants in the Doors to Diplomacy challenge, however we have since decided to enter our completed website into two other contests: the 2003 EdNA myinternet awards for websites designed by secondary students and the 2003 Eureka awards for Science websites, both Australian competitions.

Our participation will be documented in the history of our school as an example of student enterprise and initiative. We are very proud and happy to have been involved. We could not have predicted how challenging and fulfilling this project would be. It has been great to get to know each other better and to find out how much we could achieve, working together and having faith in each other.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 2200)

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