CyberFair Project ID: 1587

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: S.O.C.K.S. (Student Oriented Conservation project for K-12 Students)
Category: 7. Environmental Awareness
Bibliography: No bibliography page cited

School: Millennium Middle School
    Sanford, Florida, United States

150 students, ages from 11 to 15 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 12, 2001. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): -

Classes and Teachers: Rosemary Shaw

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Sanford, Florida is midway between Orlando and Daytona Beach. It is a community on the move, and its demographics have changed dramatically in the last few years from a rural farming community, to an urban area with international companies having headquarters here. The infrastructure is still in major need of reevaluation, and this is very apparent in the decline of the health in the nearby rivers. A volunteer from the St. John’s River Water Management District who came to the class one day and described what made up the watershed for the St. John’s River defined what our community truly encompasses. After participating in her hands-on lecture my students were so enthralled with the concept of the watershed that they wanted to help clean up and protect the entire length of the St. John’s River, approximately 310 miles long. Out of necessity, they decided to temporarily limit their community to the section of the river in our own county, and in the nearby surrounding counties. But, I know, one day, they intend to claim the entire St. John’s River, and every person that is touched by it as part of their community.

2. Summary of Our Project

Looking for ways to help protect the local watershed, the members of the Millennium Middle School Computer club came up with S.O.C.K.S. (Student Oriented Conservation project for K-12 Students) The name came from the fact that the students were collecting 100% cotton socks to be used in plantings along the lakes and rivers of the watershed. From this tiny seed, an entire project was born. The objective of the S.O.C.K.S. project was to develop an awareness of water as a finite resource. The students have created interest in the areas of water conservation, water management and water quality control by creating web pages, videos, flyers and staging a contest which is county wide, for k-12 students. The students are working with the St. John’s River Water Management District to create web pages in conjunction with their official sites. The students wish to highlight the sock collection and ways for other schools and individuals to become involved with water management. To emphasize their sock collecting, the students wrote, directed and filmed a video of short skits designed to create awareness of their project. They also have edited the film themselves, and plan on sending this video out, with other materials to all the schools in the county to kick-off the project they created.

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:more than 6

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

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

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

Many of my students had not considered the idea of a watershed, and had to do a lot of research to understand it. They were surprised that the watershed for the St. John's river encompassed thousands of miles while the river itself was only 310 miles long. Each bite of information led them to want to learn more and more. Soon, they were asking questions about the wildlife, eggs being hatched, and manatees living in the rivers. Their minds moved so fast, that I had trouble keeping up with them. The students had trouble in the beginning figuring out how to get other people interested and involved in a project that seemed at first to be just about the socks. But, once the students began to grasp the significance of keeping their watershed healthy themselves, they found that others were drawn to their interest and determination.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

The participation in the CyberFair has meant a license for my students to soar with their imaginations to heights that none of us dreamed possible. My students didn't just work on the project, they began to live it, breathe it, and spread the word about it. I believe the CyberFair is an excellent way to let students explore learning, and then, make what they have learned into something intrinsic, that will be theirs forever.

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

This project is directly related to many of the Sunshine State Standards. For example, [SC.G.2.3.4] states that students should understand that humans are a part of an ecosystem and their activities may deliberately or inadvertently alter the equilibrium in ecosystems.

The students discovered through their research that though we may not live on the banks of the St. Johns River or one of its tributaries, everyone is connected to the river in some way. Our rivers, lakes and wetlands are integral parts of our past, present and future. We all have a vested interest in preserving these vital water resources.

[SC.H.3.3.7] . states that computers speed up and extend people's ability to collect, sort, and analyze data. The students loved the way information can be exchanged instanteously via the WWW. Once they had the information before them, students found it easy to place it in a shared folder which everyone could access. They could also post ideas on bulletin boards.

[SC.D.1.3.3] states that students should know how conditions that exist in one system influence the conditions that exist in other systems. A watershed connects us all to the river because it is an area of land from which water flows into a river or river system. A 12,400-square-mile area drains into the St. Johns River and surrounding ecosystems. So what we do in one part of the river system affects the entire basin.

[SC.H.3.1.1] states that the student understands that science, technology, and society are interwoven and interdependent. The students learned this when researching the watersheds via the internet, and found the many ways the St. John’s watershed has been changed over the years due to an influx of people and the infrstructure that comes with them, such as roads, power plants and sewerage demands.

Project Elements

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

My students used:

1)a class set of computers (28)

2)telephones from home and school

3)T.V. to watch tapes of news stories about Central Florida's drought

4)digital cameras to take pictures of our own lake, and the Wekiva River

5)scanners to save documents and pictures in digital form

6)computer software such as MSOffice, and Adobe Photoshop

7)newspapers to read about St. John's river and other stories concerning the watershed and water conditions

8)classroom visits by engineers and environmental scientists

9)Camcorders to tape their skits for their video

10) digital editing equipement to edit the video

My students had a wonderful time making a video from skits they had written themselves about collecting socks. I know I will never forget the laughter as they acted in front of the camera.

The students used the computers and internet the most for everything from researching their information, to sharing this information with others.

The most helpful and valuable tools were the volunteers from the St. John's River Water Management District. After they came and spoke to the classes, there was a change that only personal contact can achieve. The students loved watching the model of the watershed, and the students could grasp what was really meant by watershed, and see how all the water sources are actually connected and influenced by man.

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

My students acted as ambassadors to the entire county for this project. The students reached out to every school in the district asking for contributions of socks for their project. The students also went out into the community asking for donations of boxes. When asked why the boxes were needed, the students explained about their project, and the stores gave more boxes than the students had originally asked for and vowed to save boxes for the project. The S.O.C.K.S. site has a class email that all the students can access, so they can take turns answering questions about S.O.C.K.S., and so they can analyze the information from their survey. The students also had epals from around the world for other projects, and the students were so pleased by their projects, they started writing their epals about S.O.C.K.S. and now the students are asking to make an international contest.

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

By teaching the importance of protecting our watersheds, we can encourage long term thinking and planning. What better way of raising someone's belief in their self-worth, than by preserving our future? Our students will be able to tell their children about their role in the preservation of the St. John's River and its watershed. This project has brought together people of disparate backgrounds to work for a common goal that will benefit all of our community. This project shows the value of contributing to ones community, and how everyone, the old and young, the rich and poor, can benefit by working together to preserve our wetlands.

At our school, we have made such an impact that other teachers and departments are becoming involved. Other teachers and staff members are now in the process of trying to get materials and kits for conducting tests on our own lake and lakes next to nearby schools. It's wonderful for the schools to reach a helping hand out to others in our community.

The web design classes are begging for more projects to do for the St. John's River Water Management District. The students were so impressed with the commitment of the volunteers, and the lesson they taught that the students want to do more, give more and participate more.

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

There have been so many helping hands in this project that is hard to know how to begin thanking those wonderful people. People like Valena Harsh, a computer teacher at Millennium Middle whose love of the St. John's River brought us to this project to begin with. Andrew Shaw, whose belief and committment to the computer program at Millennium, made any project possible for our students. Gabrielle Milch, from the St. John's River Water Management District, who gave us the focus we needed. Laura Dickey, who put time, effort and her love of the environment into the hands-on activities she did with the students. Vasili Nosov, the teacher from Simallae, Estonia, who supported any project we threw at him, and has allowed our students to correspond with others, and gain international insights into problems. To the parents of our students, who bring in boxes, and socks, and bring the students in hours early to school to work on projects, and pick them up hours after school has let out, so the projects can be completed. We not only thank all these people and more, we give them the future, for their help, is allowing us to help others.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

I learned that my students have wings to fly, and as long as I am close to them, I can learn how to use my imagination to make the world a better place, also. When we began this project, it was to be a simple way to give a little back to our community. Before it was over, it was a project that we shall always look back on as a high water mark in our lives. I think we have learned that from little ideas, great possibilities are realized.


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