CyberFair Project ID: 1300

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: History of Emerald
Category: 6. Historical Landmarks
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Emerald Primary
    Emerald, Victoria, Australia

30 students, ages from 10 to 10 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 12, 2001. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 1999

Classes and Teachers: Greg Wilmot Grade 5W

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Our local community of Emerald - a mid sized rural town (population of extended area - 7000) 50 km East of Melbourne has had a long and rich history. Since the days of the real first Australians - the Wurrunjeri Tribe - to the European Settlements of today - many stories have passed down through generations and many historical milestones have taken place.... The Wurrindjeri, gold miners, foresters, dairy farmers, plant growers(once the largest commercial nursery in the southern hemisphere was located here), community members and past teachers and students of the school all have their own story to tell and share with today's world. Many older members of the local community have been born and bred here, whilst some have headed further afield. In one way the internet has allowed all these community members to come together via our site.

For a little more background from the school web site states "Emerald Primary School, in the rainforests and rich farmlands of the Dandenong Ranges (50km from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia is the largest primary school in the area and has an enrolment of 530+ pupils. Situated in a garden setting immediately adjacent to The Puffing Billy Railway, the school has offered a unique place for the education of the children of the area for more than 100 years. " for even more on the town see

2. Summary of Our Project

The history of our local community and history of our indiginious people are both key components (66%) of the SOSE (Studies of Society and the Environment) curriculum at the year 5 level.The curriculum is set in our State Curriculum Standards Framework Mk ll (CSFll) In an attempt to bring this history alive the students of Grade 5W will attempt to record an online history of the local area from the original inhabitants (the Wurundjeri), to the goldmines and the bark slab huts of the early settlers to the busy bustling township of Emerald we see today. Data gathering will focus on interviews, guest speakers, field trips and other activities to make the history "REAL and ALIVE." While using the SOSE area as the key theme work on the site will integrate many essential components of the maths and language areas as well. The students have decided to break the project into three key components - The Wurrundjeri, The Town and The School. It is hoped the site will become a resource for the school, history students, local community and past students from all over the world. The site was originally planned to be about 30-pages but due to students' motivation and community contributions way beyond expectations it ended up being way way beyond that - and kids still don't feel they covered everything!!

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:2-3

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):

As well as classroom networked work stations we also have a computer lab with 32 multimedia workstations which was available to the class for 1-2 hours per week. Much use was also made of the school library - book based material, and use of 4 multimedia networked workstations

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

Our IT centre is timetabled which made access to the large number of computers fairly limited, except for our hour a week. The two in the classroom were put to use "around the clock". Access to the scanner was also limited and lunchtime was keenly utilised by students - Students thought nothing of working through lunchtimes to complete tasks - it was not an expectation brought on them by the class teacher. It was brought on by their self motivation to create the site! They loved helping each other. We had digital camera experts, HTML experts, cropping expers, scanning experts all keen, proud and able to share their skills.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Participation in this project has enabled made the history of their local community come alive for the students. They became passionate and motivated by the whole program - they worked as a team collaborating and sharing tasks, they took control of their own learning and now have a great pride in the finished site. They wanted to display the site to their parents and members of the local community -this has been a great success and the site has already been recogised in local and state papers and many quarters of the online Educational Community in Australia.

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

The involvement of students in this project allowed them to cover of many key learning areas and relevant outcomes of our prescribed state curriculum for this grade level. Main subject areas and content are as follows - #Maths - data gathering, analysis, spread sheet operation, graphs, reading timelines, dates. ( #Language - writing for a purpose, creative writing, listening skills and note taking, summarising, reading comprehension, etc #SOSE (Studies of Society and the Environment) Where the core History theme came from eg from the actual course "Curriculum Focus At this level students learn about: * the way in which Aboriginal peoples of Australia’s lifestyle has changed and adapted as a result of European occupation * important events and periods in the history of Australia. We did this in a most stimulating way through this project. #Learning Technologies skills are also outlined in our school's course guidelines and we covered all to perfection! eg All the prescribed Computer Networking and Internet Technology Skills, Behavioural Skills, Information Management Skills, for Year Five. (limited space prevents listing all the skills suffice to say effective in a range of skills using Excel, Publishing and Imaging Programs and equipment are predominant. Materials and Construction (Science/Tech)Design briefs and creation of model "Old Emerald Town" (see

Students enjoyed worked in collaborative teams, sharing skills and knowledge in an outstandingly cooperative way - they even surprised themselves! Their involvement in this project really made the history of the town and school come alive, gave them a much deeper understanding and empathy with our idigenous peoples and boosted their cooperative skills and self esteem through the roof! What more can I say - brilliant!

Project Elements

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

Project Plan and Implementation- whiteboard and lots of student interaction and collaboration and skill sharing. *Telephone call interviews - past students, teachers, local identities and experts.(The classroom has two phones connected via PABX) *Video and Audio recording (standard formats) of visiting speakers and of "face to face" interviews. (later encoded onto the web pages in Real Media format) *Visiting local Museum, Returned Armed Services Centre, Historical Society and other key community locations. *One real highlight of the project was with guest speakers who were invited to talk of their experiences - …see site - one was local aboriginal identity - Murrindindi - great great grandson of the famous King of Wurrinjeri who spent the whole day at school - another was Graham Legge, the Mayor of our regional Council, local historian and a past student, teacher, and principal of our school! *Taking digital photos of locations, landmarks, historical buildings, personalities. (Sony Mavica, Kodak Digicam, Sanyo Digicam) *Scanning old photos of locations, landmarks, historical buildings, old newspaper clippings, newletter items, even historical items (HP Scanner - Paper Port Software) *Sometimes the images were inappropriate for their purpose, ie, foolscap size, containing irrelevant detail. It wasn't long before students saw the need to learn to crop, resize and make the images webfriendly. No more words left!! :-) *Image manipulation by using MS Image Composer *Webpage construction using MS Front Page 98, (just the editor section.) *Survey data manipulation and graphs using Excel 97 *Word Art headings and some text components originally completed using Word utilizing its "save for web feature". *Using school and local libraries to source printed material and photographs relating to Emerald in the "old days". We found a huge collection of material at the local Historical Association who were more than happy for us to have a loan.

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

Students were able to act as Ambassadors for the project and for their school when- Visited the local lawyer's office (a past student) for interviews Spoke on the phone to incapacitated or distant past students or local identities. Contacted via snail mail and the managers of famous past students Visited the local museum and historical society Visited the local Returned Armed Services Club to discuss the significance behind the naming of Heroes Ave (the street where our school is located) and the meaning of various war memorials around the town. Made contact with significant community members and asked them to visit the school speak to the classes. Prepared reports for, and were interviewed by, local and state newspaper journalists. Emailed various individuals with survey questions etc. When they presented the site to the school community on Open Night. Overall reponse from anyone who has seen the site has been overwhelming positive….eg…. "Congratulations to those who compiled this web site. We enjoyed it immensely and feel secure in the knowledge that our grandchildren are receiving the best that education has to offer. "

"Hi, was interested to read about your web-site in the Herald/Sun (Melbourne daily newspaper) today. Emerald Primary School was my first teaching post way back in 1967. What made it really special was that my grandmother had taught there also, soon after they came out from England back in the late 20's. I ended up teaching in the very same room where my grandmother had taught my mother so long ago!!!! Interested to hear about your centenary, and most impressed with your web-site. Regards, Chris Douglas.

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

We could understand if students' parents and friedns have heard enough of this website! The kids were so motivated by what they were discovering about their local community that couldn't help giving their parents daily updates!

Parental (and grandparental!) response to the completed project has been full of praise and pride. ("you mean my child did that?? WOW!"). Although early days since completing the project, comments from teachers, community members, media and "edweb experts" have also been very positive. Nothing this comprehensive on the Emerald Community has ever been created on the web. On their recent visits, journalists from local and state newspapers have been very impressed and full of questions. We're sure their stories will reflect this.

The local Emerald Village Website (business/community) has already commended and linked to the site. The local Historical Society has donated old framed photographs to the school and rekindled interest.

This site will become a great resource for other students/teachers in the school especially as we study and celebrate the school's centenary later in the year. The "then and now" section has already been used by junior grades

It is also already proving popular with past students who have settled from Emerald to every corner of the globe. Recently old class photos were emailed from a past student now living in the UK! Due to this interest it planned to add an "archive" section to the website - containing class photos from each year and contact email addresses of relevant students.

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

Students contacted many visiting speakers from the community to help contribute information for the site. Two of the highlights were… *local aboriginal identity - Murrindindi - He spoke of the sadness of his people losing their land, the poverty and cruelty he had to endure as a child, but finished the day with an uplifting display of aboriginal culture including teaching student boomerang throwing skills. see - *Graham Legge -Regional Mayor, local historian and a past student, teacher, and past principal of our school. He talked to the students about the history of the area - the Wurrinjeri tribe lifestyle and culture, the Gold Mining days, the arrival of Puffing Billy at the turn of the century (our famous steam train), logging, farming etc. He had many humourous anecdotes to tell of his days at our School - both as a student and an adult! Students were very moved by both these speakers and the information they gained for themselves and the website was invaluable.

Students also contacted some famous past students who were happy to make valuable contributions to the website. Two were - Vanessa Amorosi (famous Australian Singer -sang at opening/closing of Olympics 2000) and Justin Huber (rookie for USA - New York Mets) . As mentioned in other sections many other past students happily and freely donated their time and information for the website. Our school volunteer IT technician (also a past student from the 60's) was also very motivated by the project. He was not only interviewed by students but spent days, if not weeks, assisting students compile their work.. Ex students from as far away as England, USA and Hong Kong made contributions via email. THANKS EVERYONE!

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

Even though the website was the main focus it was not the only end product. One of the most benificial things students gained from participation in the project was sense of belonging to a team, and a vastly improved self belief and confidence. Students improved their self esteem by being able to be resident "experts" and happily and proudly teach their skills to others - there was a great team feeling to be involved in this project! eg "As the term went by I learnt about scanning pictures and scanning photos. I have learnt so much this term it is the best school term I have ever been in. We also learnt about old Emerald town and Aborigines. We even made a school web site. by Jess " " I found it was very excellent experience.We learnt heaps. I liked it how everyone helped everyone else. by Cory" Involvement of so many members of the local community was beyond wildest expectations - see for more evidence of students thoughts of the project and community involvement.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 1300)

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