Bing helped students at Mills Lawn elementary school produce a website on “Colony Collapse Disorder”, a phenomenon when bees disappear either by sickness due to pesticides, or other human and environmental factors, impacting the growth and pollination of trees and plants. This Project-based Learning (PBL) effort was a significant part of their grades for the school year.
Student groups included researchers, photographers, videographers (really!), illustrators, copywriters, web team: Killer Bees (the web team working with Bing), Bumble Bees, Leafcutters, Masons, Carpenter Bees, and Honey Bees.
This timeline shows the involvement and actions by the kids, volunteers, Mrs. Shelton, and my role (Roger Starnes) as representative from Bing Design…
February 11 – Met “Killer Bees” team Owen, Max, and Hanna and discussed website options and plans to use Wix.com for source for website. Talked to Mrs. Shelton’s class from about my role at Bing Design as a print/web designer and developer and how the things in their PBL would be similar to the kinds of things I do at Bing. We sectioned out the main pages of the site HOME (Hannah), ABOUT (Owen), SPECIES (Max) + ACTION and CONTACT. Then the group discussed ideas for photos, links, and research by other groups.
February 21 – I gave the team more info on using Wix.com and we set up a Google document with login info to the site so they could edit when I was not there. I shared a printout of some of the types of sites that we do at Bing Design, and how the work is similar to what they were doing.
February 25 – The computer network at the school was not cooperating with us this day, so we had to work old-school… on PAPER! We sketched out the content we wanted to use, talked more about the content for each page of the site, and asked the Killer Bees to start getting material from other teams to be shared via Google Docs. After most sessions with the students, I helped write up goals and accomplishments by the team and set goals for next meeting.
March 4 – Started getting content from other groups, including the bee art for the home page of the site! Set timeline for PBL completion. Mrs. Shelton provided a Google Doc for parent and community volunteers to keep tabs on the project. More internet issues to deal with that day.
March 12 – More art and content from other groups. The Killer Bee team were given laptops to work on the site individually! Working with Mr. Zopf (volunteer) and Mr. Hurwitz (librarian) to get content saved for kids. Students had some other things to take part in so our time was cut short, but we did get comics added to the site, charts added, and a map as well as other scanned imagery.
March 18 – CONTENT DAY!! Goal to get BG art done, text and images in site, and all 3 Killer Bees working on loading content. Had a discussion with the ‘robot bee’ group. We had a ‘share session’ by some of the other team members on what they’d come to learn from the project so far: Camryn talked about helpers, Ava talked about revising objectives, Maliah discussed changes to content, Miss Lori noted the problem solvers, C.J. talked about bees in America, Bobby talked about graphs, Max discussed what was involved with the site work. We needed to add video to the Wix.com site, but had to set-up a Vimeo account to share videos, and learned that even Vimeo is seen by school servers as a risky video source…
March 25 – Goal was for all left-over content to be added to the site, and remove all the old content that was part of the copied “Reptiles” Wix.com theme. The Bumble Bees team gave us their video. A new honeycomb background image was drawn by one of the kids and was added to site. Bee photos added to the Home page, with additional content added to About and Bee Species pages. Still lacking some content.
April 4 – Bonus day with the kids to help with adding videos to site, publishing saved content, working on their Contact info, and sharing. Max, Owen, and Hannah all were helping with getting content from other groups (via Google docs) copied over to the site!
April 23 – Hannah was very productive and was selected by Mrs. Shelton and I to complete the project. We added the remainder of the files and images in her Google docs files to the site, and positioned it all. Then saved and published the site.
Working with the students of Mills Lawn for the second school year in a row, has been a treat to me. You see the kids’ focus, interests, disinterests, and what makes them more interested in working. In the end, these Project Based Learning assignments can be an education for students, teachers, and volunteers alike. The kids get real, measurable results, and not just grades – but then so do the teachers and volunteers.