CyberFair Project ID: 6966

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International Schools CyberFair Project Narrative
Title: Narrow-gauge railways and other monuments of technology within the Upper Silesia
Category: 6. Historical Landmarks

School: Gimnazjum nr 4 w Zorach (Junior High School No 4 i
    Zory, Silesia, Poland

34 students, ages 12-16 worked together to complete this CyberFair project on March 14, 2012. They have participated in CyberFair in the following year(s): 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

Classes and Teachers: The teachers are: Information Technology: Mrs Bozena Tkacz-Biskupek, History: Mrs Anna Gaszka, German Language: Mrs Katarzyna Dobrowolska-Skwara, English Language: Mrs Danuta Heesch. The classes that participated in the project: 1c, 1d, 2a, 2b, 2d, 3a, 3b

E-Mail contact:

Our School's Web Site:

Project Overview

1. Description of Our Community

Our community is the entire population of the southern region in Poland called the Upper Silesia. We are strongly united and historically conscious. People have lived and worked here for hundreds of years and experienced three partitions of Poland, two world wars and Soviet regime. They have worked hard in numerous coal mines and factories and created many amazing structures that are now being transformed into museums. Our community is an heir to a large tradition and fantastic monuments which are gaining their second life. Our community must preserve all of those remaining monuments with their history in order to hand them down from generation to generation. We want to show the world that through the real engagement, uniting and big dreams people are able to create something extraordinary and share it with others. We hope that people will become interested in visiting this region and getting to know more about our local community, its turbulent history and magnificent monuments of technology.

2. Summary of Our Project

We have chosen the 6th category of Historical Landmarks in order to show the world that there is a region in Poland that can never be forgotten. Our web project describes the historical coal and silver mines, narrow-gauge railways and other monuments of technology within the Upper Silesia in Poland, that, thanks to the engagement and passion of many people, gained their second life and are well-attended by numerous visitors from all over the country. Our project provides extensive historical facts concerning miners' work and shows how hard and dangerous it was in the past. It illustrates the machines and tools necessary for the coal and silver mining together with the ore processing and transportation. Our students searched the history of the mines, drifts, narrow-gauge railways and other monuments of technology in order to create detailed descriptions and to translate them into German and English languages. However, we didn't limit ourselves to the Internet and library only but also went for two excursions to gather necessary data. These excursions were possible thanks to our school's participation in the Human Capital Programme issued by the European Union. It enabled our school to efficiently use the ESF (European Social Fund) funds and send 30 students for two expensive trips that our school could never afford. We took many photographs, made pencil sketches, interviewed people, shot short films, visited amazing places and experienced wonderful adventures during those trips. All of these things can be found on our web project.

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:more than 6

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):

Two of our computer classrooms were won in different competitions and one computer classroom was given to us by Polish Ministry of National Education.

4. Problems We Had To Overcome

During our project we had to face many obstacles. At the very beginning it became clear to us that our knowledge of website designing and programming is insufficient. We had to catch up on our IT skills first to be able to build a website. Then, our English and German translators realised that without technical dictionaries they won't manage to translate more sophisticated vocabulary connected with coalmining and railways. Purchase of new dictionaries was inevitable. Finally, the problem with students appeared. Some of them were too lazy to come to the meeting, gather information, write, edit or translate texts. They had no idea how laborious this work can be and quickly lost their interest in the project. Fortunately, we managed to overcame these obstacles thanks to teachers' patience, calm explanations and constant encouragement. Now the students are very glad that they had chance to participate in this project because they can see its results and are very proud of their work.

5. Our Project Sound Bite

Thanks to our participation in Cyber Fair project the students have learnt much more about their nearest neighbourhood, especially its history and tradition which enabled them to understand how important it is to preserve and cultivate the memory of the past for themselves and for the future generations

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

We have learnt how to use the Internet effectively and treat it as a teaching-learning tool, how to gather information and necessary data for various purposes. We have praciced the editorial work, photographic and camera operating skills, developed English and German languages with translation techniques and studied the ways of website designing and programming. We have realised that creating a quality website reqiures both hard work and close collaboration, that is why we improved the cooperation within four groups of students involved in the project: IT specialists, journalists, English and German translators. We have also found out a lot about the region's history, culture and traditions by searching the historical sources. We have experienced fantastic adventures and met unusual people. We are more aware of our community affiliation and we understand the fact that we became the ambassadors of culture and historical awareness among our school community.

Project Elements

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

To complete our Cyber Fair project we have used 20 computers with software: Office, IrfanView, Windows Movie Maker, FrontPage as well as personal computers at teachers' and students’ homes, printers, digital camera, scanner, telephones, libraries, books, encyclopedias, the Internet, museums and oral interviews. We used computer software to edit information, to receive and send e-mails, to search and browse the Internet resources for example dictionaries and encyclopedias, to design our web pages and to correct the html code, to design computer animations and presentations, to manipulate some photos and to upload our web pages to server. Our most valuable tools were the computers, the digital camera, the Internet, books, dictionaries and the FrontPage programme because when our students joined the project they could not create webpages at all. It was necessary to use the phones to contact museums and other institutions to book our trips. We have also used the video and digital cameras to take interviews and photos. We visited our local libraries in order to look for books that could help us gather the data. We visited many interesting places like mines, museums, open-air museums and railway stations to gather the information. All of the tools used in our project belong to our school, however, some of them were bought from the money that was granted from the European Social Fund.

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

While working on the project our students visited many websites connected with railways and mining in Poland. As a result we created a concept for our own webpage and contacted two stationmasters in Rudy Raciborskie and Bytom to organize excursions and tell them about our Cyber Fair project. Every visit was agreed upon and announced by e-mail or telephones. Then, we booked our visits in museums, open-air museums, silver and coal mines which were invaluable source of information. There we found out how was the coalmining connected with railways in Poland, what mining tools were used in the past and how difficult the miner's work was. We were glad to take some photos and make some sketches. Every time our students briefly explained the CyberFair idea and our project. Many of the adults were also interviewed by our pupils. Parents, teachers and inhabitants of our town appeared to be very helpful as well. Some of them helped us by working with their children at home. All engaged people were amazed that our students were so proficient at researching and creating their own web page. They claim that it's very good that youths can use the computer techniques at such a young age. Older colleagues, who finished our school, gave us a lot of support in our work, too. They helped us to make computer animation and the website. Everyone enjoyed the central theme of the project. It was considered to be highly desirable and important. People willingly gave us help.

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

This project broadens people's knowledge about our region, its monuments of technology, its unique culture and history. It encourages people to come here to visit those magnificent historical landmarks. We believe that our website will be helpful both for teachers and students. It will be a necessary tool while preparing lectures on mining and transportation. The website will be also attractive to adults. Most of our parents and grandparents worked in coalmines and expressed interest in our project. We hope that Poles from other parts of Poland will visit our website, too. They could treat it as a useful source of information for their children. Many citizens of Silesia district visited our web page and sent us emails saying that we've done well. It goes without saying that the work we've done will be very helpful to future generations.

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

We would like to thank Mr Jaroslaw Luszcz and Mr Krzysztof Puchalski (two stationmasters) for providing information about narrow-gauge railways in Rudy Raciborskie and Bytom. We want to thank all of the tourguides for interesting tours in coalmines, drifts and museums. Their knowledge was invaluable to us. We express our gratitude to all of the teachers from our school for their help and patience and especially to the teachers responsible for the project: Mrs Bozena Tkacz-Biskupek - an information technology teacher and the initiator of the project. Mrs Anna Gaszka - a history and society’s science teacher. She was our historic consultant and dealt with source materials. Mrs Katarzyna Dobrowolska-Skwara - German language teacher and Mrs Danuta Heesch - English language teacher. They coordinated the groups of translators, checked their works and helped with all necessary translations.

5) Discoveries, Lessons and Surprises (Optional)

During the work on the project we learnt many useful things. The most important of them is creating our own website. It was the first time some students had learnt this skill. Apart from this we have improved our English and German language skills. Some words were so complicated to us that we spent many hours searching for them in the Internet and technical dictionaries. It was really ardous work. We would recommend our work to teachers, parents and students. Teachers can use the website to fulfil educational purposes.


View our CyberFair Project (Project ID: 6966)

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