APPENDIX G: Procedures for the Computer Lab

MATERIALS

Recommended Hardware

Minimum Computer Requirements

Recommended Software for Each Computer

Miscellaneous

1 Graphics editing software such as Adobe Photoshop on the computer connected to the scanner

1 Graphic converting software such as Graphic Converter (shareware) on computer connected to scanner

Internet Service Provider to upload and publish students' work (approximately 1 Mb per student)

PROCEDURE

  1. Give students a science fair packet which contains a calendar with due dates, introduction to what a virtual science fair is about, web site (directory flowchart--see below) so they know what web pages they will have to make as well as what directories to put them in, County Science Fair Application, a list of project categories and description of topics, rules for safety, judging standards, statistical summary of project categories, judges score sheet, a description of what makes a good science fair project, a guide to writing the literature review as well as the project report write up and MLA style documentation guide. Begin the project by having students pick a topic. At the same time, prepare a resource Web page that outlines the assignments (in the form of a calendar) as well as links to as many resources as you have time to find! Following this procedure is a sample calendar and an example resource Web page. The source code for the resource page is included.
  2. Introduce students to the use of Internet search engines such as Altavista (http://www.altavista.com)
  3. Begin the literature review by introducing students to the use of a Web browser and a word processor. Show them how to work between the Web browser and the word processor. Explain how to copy and paste and the importance of copyright, quoting and paraphrasing, and citing references. It's OK for students to use whatever they find as long as they cite Internet sources. Make sure students write down each URL from which they take information. They should also record authors titles and dates--as they go. This is very important otherwise students will have to go back and find everything over again in order to complete their reference page. Refer to a writing manual for correct reference format--usually MLA. Advise students to make bibliography cards for all sources. You may also wish to have students create their own bookmark file for the browser. This way, students can insert a floppy and import and use their own bookmarks regardless of which machine they use or regardless of the bookmarks which have already been created on that particular machine.
  4. Any images students wish to use from the Internet should be saved separately as GIF formatted files. JPEG files usually work, but GIF files always work well with the editors. All images the students use must also be cited and referenced. It is important for students to realize that they cannot “paste” images into the Web editor. So any image that is “pasted” into a text file (word processor) must also be saved separately as a graphic file so that it can used for the Web page editor when they make their Web pages. In other words, “pasted” graphics usually do not convert well from a text file to an html file. Graphics are “placed” into Web pages--not pasted!
  5. Introduce students to the use of email. Unless the school has an “intranet” where students have their own email accounts, use the Web browser's email features. Of course, students will have to set the mail preferences for their own accounts each time they get their mail--tell them not to “delete mail from the server.” This way, all their mail is available from home. Students who do not have email accounts can get free “Web based” email from Yahoo.com.
  6. Students should also be searching for science mentors who are working in the same field as the topic they are researching. Students can find mentors at educational Web sites, universities, government laboratories and businesses. Mentors are an excellent source for the literature review; they may also be able to recommend other sources for the student's search. You should actively help your students find mentors. Search the Internet yourself for sources of mentors and add it to your resource page.
  7. Introduce how to use email at this time so that students may correspond with the mentors. Require students to CC and forward all correspondence to you so that you can monitor the correspondence.
  8. Once the students have done enough research to decide on a research question, have students write up a proposal. Make sure you review the science fair requirements (see appendix G). Students should also have copies of any forms which must be completed before experimentation begins.
  9. At this point, students should begin to make Web pages (for their literature review). You should review several Web page editors--not just Claris HomePage--so that you find one that you like. For example, Claris HomePage is very intuitive but can not open text files. This means the student must copy from a word processor and then paste into the Web editor. There are Web page editors which can directly open text files thus automatically converting the text files as html files. Better yet, modern versions of Microsoft Word allow you to save text files to html files. It is paramount to the success of the project to figure out what works best for the software you own. Experiment until you are comfortable with the software and the procedure to make Web pages from text--then teach it to your students! It is important to have students convert their literature review text to Web pages as soon as possible so that they get motivated early.
  10. It will be necessary to organize the students files. Here is an easy method which works well regardless whether the students store files on floppies or in their own directories on a classroom or school network
  11. You will want to upload all of the files exactly the way the students have saved theirs. Below is a directory flowchart of how you can organize all of the students' files on a Web server.
  12. It is very important to have students create all of their web pages before they create the links for their files. Students must also end every filename with .htm (Windows) or .html (MAC), and any changes they make to the files must be saved with the exact filename they originally chose if all of the links are to work correctly. Notice that the flowchart uses long filenames (example: discussion_of_results.html). If files are to be exchanged between Windows and MAC operating systems, it is recommended to make all filenames eight characters or less (“eight-dot-three”). In other words, Windows machines are limited to a filename of eight characters plus the three letter extension (example: discussi.htm, not discussion_of_results.html). An alternative solution to long filenames between Windows and MAC operating systems is utility software for the Windows machines such as “MACOpener” by DataVis. Do not rely on the MAC's ability to open IBM formatted floppies--it will not work correctly. What happens is the MAC operating system will only read the first eight letters of the filenames. Thus none of the links will work!
  13. Once the students' html files have been completed, upload the files to the Web server--in the same directories (folders) the students saved their own files. In other words, you are creating an exact duplicate of all the students' directories and files. After the directories have been uploaded, you can create links from the school's Web site to the index file of each student (see flowchart).
  14. Students should be allowed to update their files as long as they do not change the names of the files themselves. It is then a simple matter of uploading the updated files into the student's directory in the Web server--the new file automatically replaces the old one.

Example Flowchart for Saving Files

Example Calendar

SCIENCE FAIR CALENDAR (grades 8, 11 & 12)

WEEK OF  
9/15 Introduction to the 1998 Science Fair / Pick topics (due 9/22).
9/22 Begin searching Internet and library resources. Record bibliographical information--see MLA and ACW style examples. /BEGIN CONSTRUCTION OF PROPOSAL, LITERATURE REVIEW AND REFERENCES WEB PAGES.
9/29 Find mentor (due 10/13). / Literature review notes from sources 1 and 2 due this week. / CONSTRUCTION OF LITERATURE REVIEW AND REFERENCES WEB PAGES CONTINUES.
10/13 Literature review notes from sources 3 and 4 due this week. / CONSTRUCTION OF LITERATURE REVIEW AND REFERENCES WEB PAGES CONTINUES.
10/20 Literature review notes from sources 5 and 6 due this week. / List of “promising” research (experimental) problems due this week. / CONSTRUCTION OF LITERATURE REVIEW AND REFERENCES WEB PAGES CONTINUES.
10/27 Literature review notes from sources 7 and 8 due this week. / Narrow list of promising research problems. / CONSTRUCTION OF LITERATURE REVIEW AND REFERENCES WEB PAGES CONTINUES.
11/3 Research (experimental) question due 11/7. / CONSTRUCTION OF LITERATURE REVIEW AND REFERENCES WEB PAGES CONTINUES.
11/10 Rough draft of literature review due. / CONSTRUCTION OF LITERATURE REVIEW AND REFERENCES WEB PAGES CONTINUES.
11/17 Hypothesis and outline of experimental procedure due. / Begin experimentation. / CONSTRUCTION OF INTRODUCTION AND EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE WEB PAGES.
12/1 Final draft of literature review due. / CONSTRUCTION OF INTRODUCTION AND EXPERIMENTAL PROCEDURE WEB PAGES CONTINUES.
12/8 First review of experimental notes. / Construction of Introduction and Experimental Procedure Web pages continues. / begin Construction of results web page.
12/15 Second review of experimental notes. / Construction of Introduction, Experimental Procedure and Results Web pages continues.
1/19 Third review of experimental notes. / Construction of Introduction, Experimental Procedure and Results Web pages continues. / Begin construction of remaining Web pages (Abstract, Discussion of Results, Source of Error and ACKNOWLEDGMENT of Assistance).
1/26 Fourth review of experimental notes. / Second-to-last week to finish construction of all Web pages.
2/2 Fifth review of experimental notes. / Last week to finish construction of all Web pages.
2/9 Rough draft of report due. / WEB PAGES CRITIQUED. / IMPROVE WEB PAGES BASED UPON SUGGESTIONS.
2/16 Panic Week. / BEGIN UPLOADING WEB PAGES.
2/23 Final draft of report due. / Displays and WEB PAGES due. / Presentations begin.

Example Resource Web Page

(Example Source Code for Resource Web Page)

<!--This file created 3/26/98 12:53 AM by Claris Home Page version 2.0-->

<HTML>

<HEAD>

<TITLE>resources</TITLE>

<META NAME=GENERATOR CONTENT="Claris Home Page 2.0">

<X-SAS-WINDOW TOP=49 BOTTOM=484 LEFT=19 RIGHT=549>

</HEAD>

<BODY>

<CENTER>If you find a good Web site that you think could be added

to this list, send the URL with a description to the Science Fair

Conference Folder. You will get 5 x.c. points if I use it!!!

</CENTER></P>

<CENTER><FONT SIZE="+4" COLOR="#00AF00">Resources</FONT>

</CENTER></P>

<CENTER><B><FONT SIZE="+2"

COLOR="#000000"><A HREF="calendar.html">Los Angeles County Science

Fair Calendar</A></FONT></B></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://www-sci.lib.uci.edu/SEP/SEP.html">Frank

Potter's Science Gems</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://www.usc.edu/CMSI/CalifSF/">California

State Science Fair</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://www.westinghouse.com/cmty/h_sci.htm">Westinghouse

Science Talent Search</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://www.halcyon.com/sciclub/">Science Club</A>

</CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://www.halcyon.com/sciclub/cgi-pvt/scifair/guestbook.html">Science

Fair Idea Exchange</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://www.ipl.org/youth/DrInternet/">Dr.

Internet Science Fair Ideas</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://calvertnet.k12.md.us/events/fairs/scifair/scifair.html">Calvert

County Science Fair</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://www.eduzone.com/tips/science/gauga.htm">Books

for Science Fairs</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://www.xc.org/echo/frssfair.htm">More Science

Fair Ideas (ECHO)</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://www.technoteen.com/zine/sciencelinks.htm">TechnoTeen

(Science Fair Links)</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><FONT SIZE="+4" COLOR="#00AF00">Regional and State Science

Fairs</FONT></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://physics1.usc.edu/~gould/ScienceFairs/">Virtual

Library: Science Fairs</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><FONT SIZE="+4" COLOR="#00AF00">Mentors via Email </FONT>

</CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://njnie.dl.stevens-tech.edu/curriculum/aska/science.html">Ask

an Expert: Science and Technology</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://njnie.dl.stevens-tech.edu/curriculum/aska/medicine.html">Ask

an Expert: Medicine and Health</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://njnie.dl.stevens-tech.edu/curriculum/aska/profess.html">Ask

an Expert: Professionals</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://www.askanexpert.com/askanexpert/cat/scitec.html">PITSCO's

Ask An Expert</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://www.usc.edu/CMSI/CalifSF/Advisor_Program/">California

State Science Fair Advisor Program</A></CENTER></P>

<CENTER><A HREF="http://www.halcyon.com/sciclub/kidquest.html">The

Science Club</A></CENTER></P>

</BODY>

</HTML>