Our Day Today

Phil Redman
first published in MicroScope Data Handling Special 1997

Introduction

Wednesday March 12th was Our Day. Sixty-six schools from around the globe took part in this Internet project where each participating class sent details of their school day. Many classes also sent samples of work completed during the day ranging from work with silk worms to work completed specifically for the project. Schools taking part were from all over the world with representatives from Germany, Denmark, Russia, Sweden, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the USA. Classes ranged from an eleven pupil school in Queensland to specialist schools in Russia, to a school on the slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

The Our Day Today project was the first Global Internet project run by the Brixton Connections Project in the London Borough of Lambeth. This project sponsored by Brixton Challenge, links fifteen primary schools to each other and the rest of the world via dial-up connections to the Internet. Since Brixton Connections began, our schools have participated in several email projects making links all over the world. This year, we decided to run our own project involving electronic mail and the World Wide Web. Our Day was chosen as the topic because we felt it would lead to opportunities for Information Handling, Maths and Geography.

Schools were invited to participate by posting details to several Internet educational mailing lists. Altogether, I received seventy-five replies, not including the Brixton schools, although only sixty-six data forms were returned. The participants were then emailed a form to be completed and returned on or soon after March 12th.

 

The form

1. Class Name:
2. School Name:
3. Town:
4. City:
5. State/County
6. Country:
7. Grade/Year:
8. The Weather Was:
9. The Temperature Was (Centigrade):
10. Our School Day Began at:
11. We had Assembly/Whole School Gathering at:
12. Morning school finished at:
13. Afternoon School started at:
14. Our School Day Ended at:
15. How far is it from school to the nearest park* (minutes):
16. How far is it from school to the nearest shops (minutes):
17. If everyone walked to school, how many children would take:
18. Less than 5 minutes:
19. Between 5 and 10 minutes:
20. Between 10 and 15 minutes:
21. Between 15 and 20 minutes:
22. Between 20 and 30 minutes:
23. Over 30 minutes:

* Nearest open space where children can play

 

The Data

The data collected was compiled into an Excel spreadsheet. Charts were produced showing; the weather, temperature, length of school day, time taken to walk to the nearest park or open space, to school and to the nearest shops. A converter for Fahrenheit to Celsius, was produced to assist participants in the United States. In producing these charts we have tried to be as accurate as possible but as with any large data collecting activity there may well be discrepancies not least caused by language differences.

The Weather

March 12th was mainly a sunny day world-wide with only four schools reporting snow. One school in Louisville Kentucky reported flooding along the Ohio River:

"I thought you would like to know that our weather was very unusual for us. The weekend following this survey, we had almost 15 inches of rain and had terrible flooding all along the Ohio River. There is still furniture in some areas that needs to be picked up and taken to the dump - damaged by dirty, foul water. Several people lost their lives and many literally lost everything they owned--homes, clothing, furniture, cars - everything. The water came up so fast and so unexpected that some had almost no warning at all or they just didn't realize that the water was going to rise as high as it did. All my family was blessed with dry, safe homes. My home did have a little water come in the basement and we were up till 3:30am mopping it up. At that time, it finally quit coming in . . ."

The Temperature

The temperature was up in the 30's and high 20's in many areas mostly in Australia and America. However, several schools, mainly the Russian ones, reported sub zero temperatures. One Russian school told us how a number of their children went ice skating on an outdoor rink after school. The rink was built by one of their teachers.

Length of School Day

Most school days seemed around an average of five hours. The longest day being 7 hours at 148 'Experiment' school in Samara, Russia and the shortest was Beers Street Middle School in New Jersey, USA at 4 hours 10 minutes.

Time to Walk to the Nearest Park

For this exercise, participants were asked to measure or estimate the time taken to walk to their nearest park. For rural schools, this was a difficult concept as they could not imagine walking to a park as it may be in a city about two hours drive away. So, we asked schools to use the nearest open space to the school where children can play. The school with the longest walk was Upper Barron State School in Queensland, Australia.

Time to Walk to Nearest Shops

As you can see, this varies between a couple of minutes to ninety. Once again, the children in Queensland have the longest walk.

Time to Walk to School

Obviously, this one is dependent on where the children actually live. At this point, it should be noted that two of the Australian schools had seven and eleven pupils respectively.

 

School Photos

Several schools sent photos of their school and children. I have included a couple of these below as a sample of the variety of schools taking part. The others can be viewed on the World Wide Web at http://www.brixton-connections.org.uk/photos.html.


Harlin State School, Queensland


William Lehman Elementary School, Florida


School 147, Samara, Russia

Examples of Work

Many samples of work were posted, emailed and faxed by participants. These varied from photos of ongoing work to work undertaken specifically for the project. Once again, a few examples are included here. The rest can be viewed on the World Wide Web at http://www.brixton-connections.org.uk/work.html.


From Azle Elelementary School in Texas


From Evergreen Elementary, New Jersey


From Vogelweh School, Germany


From Stockwell Infants, Brixton


Gymnasium 11 'International', Samara Russia

The teacher there also had this to say about their school:

"We are the pupils of the 7 grade of gymnasium 11, from the city of Samara, Russia. We have a wonderful school where we acquire a good knowledge of different subjects. In our school we have different activities: we stage plays, we have competitions, fantastic discos but this is another conversation. we often have those amusements on Saturdays & Fridays, but today on the 12 of March we do not have any activities because it is Wednesday & it is a common day. in our school we have different clubs, besides some of our classmates go to special schools like an art school, a music school.

Now we would like to tell you how we spent the 12 of March.

We came to school as usual at 12:30 p.m., because we study in the afternoon school. Our lessons begin at 12:40 & are over at about 6:00 o'clock. We had Geometry, Algebra, English, French & German (half of our class studies French & others study German), Physics. Every lesson lasts 40 minutes. At Geometry lesson we solved very hard problems. At our Algebra lesson we had a new topic, we liked it very much. Than we had English. All our class is divided into 3 groups & every group has its own teacher. Then we had French & German. We have been studying French & German for 3 years. The last lesson was Physics & we had a test. After our lessons we gathered together & started to write this letter & to decide what song to sing at our annual festival of English songs, held at our school every year. It is a good tradition & we participate in this contest with great pleasure. No more things to tell."


From School 148 'Experiment', Samara, Russia

 

Interesting Comments

One school commented that they were a school for the deaf and the children were thrilled to be participating in an activity where no one knew this. The teacher from W. Alonzo Locke Elementary School, Memphis, Tenessee, USA commented on their day which is very different to ours:

"Our School Day Began At: 7:00 a.m. with breakfast. All 385 children at the school are entitled to a free breakfast. We have breakfast at the school from 7:00 until 7:30 a.m. Today we had cereal, milk, choice of fruit and orange juice. We had assembly/whole school gathering at: February 28 was the last time we all got together as a whole school. On that day we celebrated the end of Black History Month with songs, speeches, poems, tap dancing, flipping (gymnastics), and plays. All of the students at the school are African Americans. Morning School and Afternoon School:

These are new concepts for us. We don't really understand what you mean. We begin our classroom work at 7:30 in the morning. In our room we do spelling, reading, and grammar until 9:00 a.m. We then go to a different special class from 9 until 10 a.m. (Monday we go to the library and learn reference skills and select books to take home, Tuesday is physical education, Wednesday's special is music, Thursday is time in the science lab and on Friday we have art class). From 10:00 until 11:00 we work on science or social studies. We have lunch from 11:00 until 11:30. We all eat lunch at the school and no one is permitted to leave the building.

We go back to our room from 11:30 until 12:30 and study math. At 12:30 we go to computer lab for 1/2 hour. Again these specials are in our building, just in different rooms. At 1:00 we return to our classroom and work on group or independent projects until 2:00. All of the classrooms in our Sumatran family (floor) are studying oceans. We are all working on projects about the oceans. At 2:00 we clean up our room and do our jobs (shut down computers, water plants, clean the boards, feed the pets, etc.) and get ready for dismissal at 2:15 p.m. How far to the nearest park: There is a park one block away from the school but everyone agreed it was not a safe place.

We decided to tell you about the nearest safe park where we would like to play in our free time. The safe park is the Martin Luther King Jr. Park. It is 3 and 1/2 blocks away from the school. How far to the nearest shops: There is a store on the same block called Poor Mans. It is a pawn shop. It would take about a minute to get there. At the end of the block there is Willie Moore's store. You can buy just about anything there, sandwiches, candy, sodas, soap, stamps, or newspapers. It might take three minutes to walk there. If we all walked to school it would take less than 5 minutes for 3 of us between 5 and 10 minutes for 15 of us and over 30 minutes for 2 students and Mrs. Seifert to get to the school . . ."

 

Conclusion

Many of the schools, which took part in the project, commented on the interest it created amongst their pupils and the discussions it started.

First, there were the opportunities to discuss how the information was to be collected - how would we classify the weather? How are temperatures measured? Where is the nearest park/school? How long would it take to walk to school? And, what was likely to come from other schools around the world.

Then, once the collection was completed, pupils could look at their own data, produce some charts and discuss the differences, such as the time taken to get to school.

Next is the fact that the information was transmitted across the world and put on public display, and that many of the schools subsequently received emails about their work - the pupils had become publishers.

Finally, once the information had been collated and returned pupils looked at the location of the various schools on a world map, and how the weather and temperature varied around the world. They looked at the different types of locations, and how far children travel to schools; at the different size of schools, and at how the school day varied, particularly in terms of its start and end times - why do some schools start at 7:30am, while others start in the afternoon?

As with many information-gathering exercises, the resulting discussions are often more important than the conclusions that are reached; with this project, many of the teachers have commented on how the sharing of information with other schools had given the activity an extra status and increased pupils' interest and excitement.

I'll leave Mary Seifert of W. Alonzo Locke to sum up:

"Thank you so much for allowing us to participate in your project! Phil, this has been a fantastic experience for me and my children. If you ever feel like undertaking another task like this please count me and my classroom in. You have been a delight to work with, always quick with a response and direction. My children have learned some tremendous things thanks to "Our Day Today". It has served as an introduction to the "authentic" use and application of charts and graphs. We have used the project to broaden our geography and social studies curriculum as well. Writing to you (and seeing our response on your Web Site) served as a catalyst for some great writing on the part of the children. You have helped us turn some rather dry material into an exciting adventure. Most of all, you have enhanced the self-esteem of these children more than you will ever know. Your project has taken 19 children and a teacher out of the projects (poorest inner city housing) and into the world! We send you and your children hugs and kisses and many thanks..."

 

Phil Redman
Advisory Teacher IT
Lambeth Education

 

Full details of the project can be viewed on the World Wide Web at:
http://www.brixton-connections.org.uk/ourday.html

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