CyberFair Project ID: 3752

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: The Drowning Horizon --- Wun Fong Village in Taiwan
Category: 7. Environmental Awareness

School: Kaohsiung Municipal Ying-Ming Junior High School
    Kaohsiung, Taiwan, R.O.C.

Nine students, ages 12~15 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 20, 2005. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): None

Classes and Teachers: Pan-jo Wu, Hong-fu Chen, Hui-her Lu

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

There are Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County and Pingtung County in this community, Southern Taiwan. Kaohsiung City is a modern industry and commerce city and therefore people's food comes from these two counties. Pingtung is the most southern county of Taiwan, which has wide and wealthy land and a long coast. The fever of aquaculture with salty and fresh water rose since 1974, and its source of fresh water comes from underground. Because of the overtaking ground water, there has been a serious land subsidence near Jia Dong. Jia Dong is located at the southern part of the Pingtung Plain, southeast to it is the wide Taiwan Strait. On the coast line where the Lin Bian River flows out to sea is Wun Fong village. It is a typical village that has been troubled by land subsidence. Wun Fong village used to be an aquafarm, called Wun Zih. Because of its special geographical features and its long coastline, most people here decided to live by fishing. This village is also one of the several professional aquaculture areas in Taiwan. Nowadays, because of its land subsidence, it attracts a lot of tourists and students.

2. Summary of Our Project

We only have one earth but we have over-utilized its resources. Due to the need of economic development and overusing natural resources, the world is facing different kinds of environmental problem. How to make a balance between need and resource so as to maintain sustainable development is an important issue that every country should consider seriously. The same as the spirit of Kyoto Protocol, every country and everyone should face the problems happened on earth and try to solve it corporately. Land subsidence, for example, is an important problem. How to prevent it is a long-term task for our society, the same as in many countries. Wun Fong village is seated at Jia Dong of Pingtung County in southern Taiwan. Aquaculture has brought the locals both wealth and disaster, because long-term over-utilizing groundwater caused severe land subsidence and salinized groundwater. Our main targets in this research are: 1. Understand the history, business, ground layers and the geographic appearances of Wun Fong village. 2. Explore the causes and effects of land subsidence. 3. Find out the evidence of land subsidence. 4. Interviewing government officials, professional institutes and residents to understand the policies of government, opinion of professionals facing land subsidence, and the residents' attitude towards new lives. 5. Understand how other countries cope with this problem. To save natural resources for future use and for our next generations, we must utilize them wiser than before. We hope everyone in every country should go together care about our environment, and disseminate the knowledge so as to realize the causes, consequences and the ways to protect environment. Maybe other countries can take the example from our research to reach an agreement on aquaculture: places with less water can breed fry, and then import the fry to countries with more water resources.

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:2-3

C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection

D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:more than 6

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

Our school is linked to Chunghwa Telecom with a ten-meter long fibre cable. Linkage system inside the school is LAN (Local Area Network.) These two equipments provide us convenient information transmit effectively. Our teammates use ADSL or 56K Cable Modem to link to the Internet at home.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

a. Language problem Residents of Wun Fong usually speak Taiwanese, which sometimes we don't understand exactly. So we asked our parents to help us. Besides, we taped our interviews so as to translate them later. b. Lack of experience At first, we were too embarrassed to talk while interviewing. But everyone is braver and can do the interviews better after a few times. Finding the right places to visit in an unfamiliar place is difficult. We got lost several times, but we'll try to leave earlier and remember roads and landmarks later. Information about land subsidence on the Internet is not easy to understand. Also, how to summarize the huge amount of information is a problem. We usually discuss 'how to write' with our teachers and teammates. c. Time management Time management was our main problem because of the long distance of targeted places from our school and the pressing deadline for finishing this project. We usually went to Wun Fong on holidays. If we had to meet some people to who were only available on school days, we had to take turns in case we missed too many classes. Sometimes, therefore, the interview would be delayed. In addition, because of full schedule, we can also discuss about our project together only once a week. d. Teamwork Most of our teammates didn't know each other before this competition. Therefore, we often mistook other people's meanings. But we became pretty close friends in the end. This really helped while working things out together. e. Computer skills We are all not very good at computer skills, including web-making. Therefore, our teachers helped when we were making web pages. We also try to learn as much as we can from them.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Our Earth, our hope and our responsibility. Before this research, we thought that land subsidence resulted from overpumping groundwater for aquaculture. But we found out that the case is not so simple. Actually, industrial water usage, illegal excavation, watercourse cultivation, and even overusing water in daily life can result in land subsidence. Therefore, we believe that everyone should care for our environment. Land subsidence can happened anywhere, environmental problems could be seen in far and wide. We hope we can transmit the knowledge of preventing land subsidence to everyone. On the other hand, we wish residents of Wun Fong can understand the government and related unit’s doings about this problem. We believe that the government’s effort will slow land subsidence down, and also recreate the business of aquaculture. All of us should do what we can to protect the environment. We only have one Earth, and anyone of us has responsibility.

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

The reason why we chose 'land subsidence' as our topic is mainly because we were all very curious when we read our life science textbook; including a picture of a house half way subsided into the ground. But the book only described a little about it, so we decided to seize this chance of CyberFair to do more research on it. Actually, many people are very unfamiliar with the phrase 'land subsidence.' Apart from what they have learned from textbooks, they probably know nothing! Through this research, we combined academic and reality together, and hope to awaken the respect people have toward this land. In addition to going to Wun Fong personally, and did a research on the 'Whys and Hows' of land subsidence, we increased our knowledge about science and other related information. With the aid of our teachers, we also did an experiment on the salinization of water. Except things we learned from texts, we learned how to communicate with others, and increased our social skills. Besides, we learned how to summarize a lot of information into a piece of essay understandable and rich of knowledge. With these skills, we hope to transmit the knowledge of land subsidence to other people.

Project Elements

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

No one can resist the convenience of technology. Participating in this contest, it is impossible not to use information tools and technologies. In order to search for information, we read books and surf the Internet. Apart from information found on the Internet, we also collect information from our interview. Because our interviews were usually long, we need to tape it down to make sure we didn’t miss anything. We also need digital cameras for taking pictures. The reason why we use digital cameras instead of traditional ones is because it’s easier to transfer the photos into the computer. For handing out our reports, we mainly use FTP. With our fast Internet connection speed, we can upload/download our essays quickly. We also use USB to deliver the photos we took on our 'field trips.' In order to make our web more worthwhile, we used a lot of different computer softwares. Including FrontPage 2003, Flash MX, Photo Impact 8, Fireworks MX, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and so on.

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

Other than observing land subsidence personally, we have to make contact with a lot of people, like residents, governmental units, and experts, etc. How to talk them into having interview with us is a very important job. The 'ambassador' of our team is Yu-Ning Huang. Although he aren’t familiar with the units or people we want to interview, but he’ll think of everything in everyway to bridge the relationship between the interviewee and us, with the aid of Ms. Lu, one of our teachers. Cian-Jia Huang, our captain is in charge of assembling our team members at school and delivering news for our teachers. She also prepared our schedule and reported our progress to the teacher.

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

Through this research, everyone saw land subsidence in Wun Fong and felt the power of nature personally. And through the contact between residents, we have realized step-by-step residents' feeling towards life. Because where we usually live is far away from places with land subsidence, so we don't know much about land subsidence, there are even some things we knew wrong. For example: when we saw a sunken house, we thought it really sunk down. We found out later the reason it appear lower than other houses is because other houses have been backfilled before. During this research process, we didn't just learn more; we also corrected the wrong concepts we had before. Taiwan's land subsidence happened mainly because of overpumping ground water, Mother Nature gives us a lot of resources, but how to use it fairly is a considerable question. Although land subsidence hasn't happened where we live, preventing it is everyone's task. By this project and research, we hope we can tell people the right ways of using ground water, and let everyone feel the effects and losses that land subsidence can do to our life. We wish everyone can love and care for our land.

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

We got a lot of information from our community, and interviewed a lot of different institutes. With the help of those people, our website can include a lot of information. These are our resources: 1. Town hall of Jia Dong: Provided us with the map of Wun Fong and a research on the residents' daily life. 2. Fisheries Section, Pingtung county government: Offered us information about local aquaculture and the policy and strategies of the government. 3. Water Resources Section, Pingtung county government: Made us realize the ground water usage in Pingtung area, the overview of local land subsidence and the ways they have use to prevent it. 4. Doctor Ce-Shi Ding of Pingtung University of Science & technology: Dr. Ding. has been in charge of the plan of artificial recharge in Pingtung areas. He also showed us the relation between ground water and land subsidence. 5. Land Subsidence Prevention and Reclamation Corps.: Through interviewing Dr. Chang-Hong Song, we realized what the corps has done and are doing. 6. People in Wun Zi Elementary School: By the interview with the principal Jin-Quan Huang, we learned the history and land subsidence at the school. They also provided us with precious pictures as evidence. 7. Aquaculture workers of Wun Fong: We interviewed Mr. Zai-Tuan Huang and then learned the history and development of aquaculture, and the possibility of fry breeding in Wun Fong. 8. Residents: We ask a lot of residents randomly, and realized the effect that land subsidence has done on their life and their attitude towards it.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

After this research, we have changed a lot of ideas. Having to see land subsidence personally made us rethink that we should treasure ground water resources more carefully and effectively than before. Ground water is a gift from Heaven, but how to use it wisely and let the next generation able to use it, is what we all should consider about. Many people try to correct things after it happened, but not everything is remediable. Land subsidence is a silent crisis, it comes without a warning, and once it happened, it will never recover. We should try to stop it before it happens. There are no resources in nature endless. If we can't live in harmony with nature, and then one day, we might have to live without it.


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