CyberFair Project ID: 1347

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Horseshoe Crabs
Category: 7. Environmental Awareness
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Warner
    Wilmington, Delaware, United States

24 students, ages from 10 to 11 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 12, 2001. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 0

Classes and Teachers: Mrs. Morris

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Although our school is located in Wilmington, the biggest city in Delaware, we consider our "local" community all the people, especially other students, who live in the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia. There are more horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay than any other place in the world, and people in those states especially need to learn about horseshoe crabs and how valuable they are.

2. Summary of Our Project

Our project is an attempt to educate people about the horseshoe crab and its importance - ecologically, medically, and economically. Many people see horseshoe crabs on the beach and don't even know what they are, let alone realize they may owe their lives to these creatures and their blue blood. The horseshoe crab is one of the oldest species on earth and has survived all kinds of situations. Yet, recently there has been much controversy over whether to put restrictions on the harvesting of horseshoe crabs. Many people believe their numbers are declining, primarily because people are overharvesting them to use for eel and conch bait. So, we hope that as people learn more about horseshoe crabs, they will make better decisions about their future.

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:4-6

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

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

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

Our school's internet connection comes through a T1 line.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

The biggest problem we had to overcome was getting technical help to teach us how to do certain things on the computer. For example, we did not know how to copy a script and paste it into one of our pages. We didn't know how to ftp a power point presentation. There was no one at school nor was there any parent whom we could find to help answer our questions. We asked people at our school's district office, but the tech people were always too busy to help. Finally, we called a man in the State's Office of Technology, and he was able to help us over the phone to do some things. When we were trying to download some stills and video, a local high school student helped. Another issue was time. We found the amount of time it took to research and design the pages was enormous. So, we finally set aside 45 minutes from our communication arts period every day for two months to work on this project.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Participating in CyberFair has provided us an exciting and challenging opportunity to work together and apply many varied skills to create a web site about horseshoe crabs to educate people about an issue that is very critical in our area.

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

In Delaware all fifth graders study ecosystems. The Delaware Science Standard #8, Ecology, states that by the end of fifth grade students should know that "human activities can change the environment and adversely affect the health and survival of humans and other species". Fifth graders are asked to study a local environmental issue. Also, doing research and writing are included in our language arts standards. This project offered us the opportunity to make the writing more meaningful because we knew many people would be reading what we had written. We learned a lot of new technical skills, like how to use java script and download material. We, also, learned to use a variety of ways to collect information and had to learn to divide the work among different students. One or two persons couldn't do it all.

Project Elements

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

To complete our project we used 4 Dell computers that are in our classroom, a digital camera, a scanner, a VCR, and a telephone. We got information for our site from the internet, books, videos, newspapers, letters, and oral interviews. These are all listed under resources on our site. We used Netscape Communicator to make our pages. Because it was a first for everyone to design a web page, at the beginning it was a major decision just trying to decide what colors and fonts to use. Then we found resources on the internet to add to our pages. It was fun, but yet it was time consuming, to find places where we could download banners, buttons, java script, etc. What we finally used is also listed under resources on our site.

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

We contacted many, many people while doing this site. People were most kind to us. In addition to trying to gather information, we also got permission to use on our site any photos someone else had taken. Most of the contacts were made through email. For some, like the Japanese scientist, email alone was used to exchange information. For others, like the Japanese school and the Japanese Horseshoe Crab Museum, email was used to make the original contact, but both these groups sent us packets of information in the mail. Likewise, first contacts with Dr. Hall and Mr. Kramer were through email, but then students talked to them on the telephone. After Mr. Oates was contacted by email, he came to school and visited our class and shared info and his video. For people whom we didn't have an email address, like Dr. Shuster, the world authority on horseshoe crabs, we wrote a letter. He not only wrote back to us, but also sent copies of many articles he had written over the years and even some horseshoe crab specimens. When we contacted Mr. Tom O'Connell, the Natural Resources Biologist/Horseshoe Crab Coordinator for Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources, he was so impressed with our site, he said he was passing on the URL to other members of the Atlantic States Fisheries Commission. When we told BioWhittaker what we were doing, they sent us a power point presentation.

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

We definitely feel our project will make a difference. Our site is without a doubt the most complete site about horseshoe crabs on the internet. Not only is our site being used by all fifth and eighth grade students in Delaware who are studying horseshoe crabs, but also by a group that has been formed to study "Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds: Science and Public Policy". This group is a partnership of more than twenty educators and state environmental agencies and nonprofit educational organizations in New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. It is in the process of developing a plan for a model curriculum focusing on the biology, science, economics, conservation and public policy issues with the horseshoe crab and shorebirds on the Delaware Bay. It is planning to make this curriculum available soon to not only schools, but any interested person or groups, nationwide. Also, we recently received an email from a lady who speaks to fifth graders in her town about horseshoe crabs, telling us she'll be using our site. So, we believe our site will greatly impact our "community".

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

For technical help, we contacted Tom Brennan at the Delaware Center for Technology. Steve White from Norway helped us with the puzzles. Michael Oates brought an eel trap and conch trap to our classroom and explained how they work. He also gave us a copy of a video,"Dollars on the Beach",that he had made about horseshoe crabs.When we wanted to use stills and a clip from his video, we had no idea how to do that,so Lucas Stankiewicz,a 11th grade student at a local high school, showed us how to download real media and how to use it. When we were learning about the shorebirds that eat the horseshoe crab eggs, Nancy Willis, a local artist, gave us a copy of a poster she had done about horseshoe crabs and shorebirds. As stated in #3, Dr. Carl Schuster, Jr. sent us information and specimens. Dr. Bill Hall, Delaware's authority on horseshoe crabs and a teacher at the College of Marine Science at the University of Delaware, sent us information and pictures. David Carter from Delaware Division of Soil & Water sent us information and pictures about the banding of shorebirds. Glen Gauvry from Ecological Research & Development Group,Inc,in Milton, DE, a group that has a web site about horseshoe crabs and is planning to build a museum, helped us. Dr. Nancy Targett, a researcher at the U.of Del. College of Marine Science, told us about the research she was doing about artificial bait. Stew Michels from Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife and Gary Kramer, the Aquatic Resources Education Coordinator for Delaware Fish and Wildlife, provided us with information. Mr. Hiroaki Sugita, a Japanese scientist who is doing research about horseshoe crabs, wrote and told us what he is doing and sent us pictures. Mr. Toru Nakiashima sent us information about the Japanese Horseshoe Crab Museum, and Mr. Hagawa from Miyo Elementary School sent us copies of materials used in Japanese schools.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Probably our biggest lesson or discovery was the amount of time it takes to create a web site. We had no idea how much would be involved. Also, it was great to have so many busy people take time to help us. Our knowledge and background was so limited when we started. We don't know what we would have done without their help. They were wonderful!


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