Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase
Junior high school meeting
Benefits and Problems of the 100-School Networking Project
What We've Learned after Three Years of Working on the Acid Rain Research
Takeshi Nagasawa, Attached Fukuyama Junior High School, Hiroshima
- With help from Professor Kaneyuki Nakane of the Faculty of Integrated Arts
and Sciences, Hiroshima University, the Acid Rain Research Project began in
August 1995 as a project within the 100-School Networking Project. Acid rain
is an important topic in environmental education. The Acid Rain Research Project
itself is an experiment that take advantage of the wide area networking system
in school education. In response to an invitation by people in charge of the
project, 40 schools in FY1995 and 47 schools in FY1997 participated. Results
were better than expected, thanks to the participation of various kinds of
schools from all over Japan and the research done by participants in the 100-School
Networking Project. The database also functioned nicely.
I think the reasons for schools participating in the project can be classified
into two categories:
1) Schools wanted to practice using the Internet to learn how they could
use the Internet in their educational activities, with the primary motive
of testing the potential of the Internet.
2) Schools wanted to use the Internet to motivate students and improve their
environmental education, with the primary motive of improving the quality
of their environmental education courses.
- When the research program was being planned, we expected interest from a
greater number of schools in improving environmental education courses. After
three years, we analyzed the present state of the project and answers to a
questionnaire sent to all participating schools. It now appears that the project
has been more important as an experiment in using the Internet for educational
purposes, and for gauging the potential of such use. Needless to say, the
activities of some schools did prove to be valuable in proving that the Internet
could be effectively used to teach issues concerning the environment. We would
like to report on present state of and problems using the Internet for educational
purposes at our school, based on data acquired over three years of research.
We'd also like to propose ways to integrate its use into a school curriculum.
2. Progress report for the past three years
- August 1995
Notified schools all over Japan about the Acid Rain Research Project. (an
October deadline for applications from schools wishing to participate)
October 26, 1995
Established a mailing list. firstname.lastname@example.org
Established a home page for the Acid Rain Research Project.
Participating schools began entering data. The project officially starts.
Studied the question of what each school could do for the project.
Drew up a basic plan of activities for FY 1996.
The project was selected as a joint use program of the 100-School Networking
Invited other schools to join the project.
Participating schools took samples of rainwater to be analyzed by an ion-chromatograph.
Each school prepared and sent us a frozen sample.
The samples were analyzed by Professor Kaneyuki Nakane at the Faculty of Integrated
Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University.
Established an English version of our home page.
Reported the analysis results on our home page.
Drew up a basic plan of activities for FY 1997.
The project was selected as a CEC-initiative program for the 100-School Networking
Project Phase II.
It was designated an experimental program in which data would be shared with
other schools as part of a plan to improve use of network systems.
Prepared a report on our research.
Drew up a research plan for the future, including the next year.
Revised our home page.
3. Present state of the project
- We sent questionnaires to 47 participating schools in October 1997 to learn
about their progress. We received responses from 33 schools. At the beginning,
this project had various types of schools and groups participating in it,
all with different reasons for joining the project, with a common one being
improving education by using a computer network. We would like to present
our results and the problems we encountered in our research.
a) Reasons for school participation in the project and derived benefits
Many schools participated in the project as part of their club activities.
Many schools also asked to use the research as teaching material for science
and environmental courses. Every school expressed interested in learning how
to use the Internet and using it for educational purposes. At the beginning,
this seemed to be the main reason for most schools for joining the project.
Some of the benefits of project participation mentioned by schools included
hopes that students could learn more about problems resulting from acid rain,
experience working with other students from all over Japan, and getting a
first-hand experience of the benefits offered by the Internet.
b) Difficulties experienced during the project
For both students and teachers, it's difficult to make observations on a daily
basis over a long period of time. The cost of repairing damaged observation
equipment is also quite high. A school's curriculum is planned for each new
school year, so when a teacher who has been in charge of the project is transferred
or when enthusiastic students graduate, the continuity of the project suffers.
Some project improvements are definitely needed.
c) Creating a back up system for the project
Most of the participating schools were satisfied with the way that we ran
our home page and the methods we used to make data available. Some schools
wanted to revise their data after it had been sent and to communicate with
us more often. We also feel that there should be more opportunities for participating
schools to exchange their views. The mailing list didn't work as well as hoped,
because teachers in charge of the project at some schools failed to check
their e-mail regularly. For the future, we recommend checking e-mail more
We didn't originally plan to carry graphs of our research results on our home
page. Now we think that creating a summary once in a while may improve the
project and promote use of the Internet for educational purposes.
In February 1998, data stored in the server at the Center for Information
Infrastructure was lost when the hard disk crashed. Restoring the database
took a long problem, and presents an obvious problem concerning servers that
needs to be addressed.
d) Exchange between schools
Relatively few schools interacted with each other during the course of the
project. We believe this project will be more effective if students and teachers
communicate with each other more frequently. Supporting this is part of our
4. Use of observation data for educational activities
- Among regular study, special education activities, and the teaching of ethics,
the Internet is used most often with special educational activities. In contrast,
it's hard to use the Internet in regular subjects and to find information
useful for a lesson, although teachers have begun using the Internet on a
In the project's third year, some schools participating in the Acid Rain Research
Project began using the Internet in teaching regular subjects. This shows
that use of the Internet in lessons requires time and effort.
Our school has used the Internet in a number of activities. We added courses
on environmental issues in 1991, with the aim of making students more aware
of the environment in which they live. Once a week, we tackle environmental
issues in eighth-grade science classes. We observe the weather and study acid
rain daily, and participate in the Acid Rain Research Project and the Earth
Observing Program to Protect the Environment (GLOBE.) Since 1997, our school
has been designated as a research school for a project that uses data about
the environment (EILNET). The participation of our students in the Acid Rain
Research Project as part of their theme research has broadened their perspectives
and enabled them to work with people from all over the world. Using the Internet
is changing the way environmental education is taught.
The saying goes, "Think globally, act locally." The Acid Rain Research
Project offers teaching material that helps in acting locally.
- Environmental education, including the Acid Rain Research Project, requires
activities that need to be continued for a sustained period. Through this
project we found that having a system that supports school educational activities
is very important. A practical, effective support system should be developed.
An effective way of running it needs to be examined in the future as part
of the 100-School Networking Project Phase II.
Conference to introduce results from the 100-School Networking Project (Phase II)