> Why Green?
The topic: When we started out as a team, we had a lot of trouble deciding on a topic. Because of our diverse interests, it was hard to find a topic that everyone would be passionate about. In the end, however, we decided to create a website around the theme of green energy sources. We felt that it was a relevant (and very important) topic, given our current environmental crisis, as switching to green energy sources is a proven solution to the high levels of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere. Keeping this in mind, we set out to find interesting information that would appeal to teens, our target audience. We were also motivated by our personal quest for knowledge and understanding, since we didn't learn of green energy sources at school much.
What makes our website unique: Although we looked at the previous winners at the start of the competition, we only found out halfway through the project that there were previous ThinkQuest websites on green energy. We examined these website and made a critical study on them. Our conclusion was that the previous websites relayed useful information about green energy sources, but did so in a complicated way that wouldn't appeal much to teens, in our opinion. As a result, we focused on optimizing our website for teens - creating a useful resource that they would enjoy using.
> Target group
We strongly feel that the first step towards a greener future is education - expanding horizons and reference frameworks. The Green Alternative aims to realize this goal, by providing secondary school learners (ages 14 - 19) with easy-to-understand, interesting and useful information that will equip them to make greener decisions in the near future. This website has been optimized to provide the best user experience to these visitors. Although the information can be useful to everyone, it was specifically created with this target group in mind.
> Behind the screen
The website interface: A lot of research, development and creativity went into this website. The whole website interface was created from scratch, and was the result of the collective wisdom of the team, put into coding by Johannes. Many hours of experimentation allowed the website to improve constantly. The things that worked well were kept, while the other elements (a lot!) were discarded. The reason why we decided on a dominantly green theme was because we felt that it extended our team's motto ("Your future is green") even further.
The video introduction: Everyone had ideas for the intro video, but it was Johannes' job to bring everything together. He searched (very) long and hard for an inspirational and modern soundtrack for the video, which could be used (in other words: had a suitable license). After that, he implemented all the viable ideas in the video. Lastly, the video was compressed for the web and integrated into the home page.
The Biodiesel documentary: We knew of a local resident who created his own Biodiesel (and was willing to take us through the process). We thought of doing a short video, but later came up with the idea of creating a documentary. (We did, however, also create a shorter version for integration on the website). As we didn't learn of Biodiesel at school, we decided to present the documentary in such way that it would be funky, engaging and informative. Michelle was the 'director of photography.' Johannes, who loves creating videos, did the editing and mixing. The music used in the video is open source.
The games: As none of the team members had extensive skills in creating Flash content, creating the games were quite a big challenge. Adriaan literally studied books day and night to learn to create high quality Flash content. In the end, Johannes also became very interested, and helped Adriaan a bit. Danelle had some brilliant ideas, but unfortunately, some of them required very complicated Flash programming, which neither Adriaan nor Johannes could do. Luckily, Estelle helped keep the ideas realistic.
The Nemus superheroes: When Johannes asked Danelle to draw pictures for the introduction, we discovered Danelle's hidden talent for creating graphics in Paint - a true pixel artist. We were very impressed with the quality of the graphics she created. Danelle then had the idea that each of us should have a 'green superhero' to represent us. She conjured a name for each of us, as well as a corresponding superhero. Adriaan and Danelle worked together to produce a Flash movie to introduce the team, which can be seen in the 'About this team' section.
People: First off, we'd like to thank the Oracle Education Foundation and ThinkQuest for the golden opportunity. We had a lot fun, learned a lot of new things and gained a better understanding of green matters. We also realized again how important green energy sources are for the future of our earth. We met a lot of interesting people, but apart from that, we got to know each other a lot better and learned to successfully incorporate all opinions and perspectives to work together.
Secondly, we'd like to thank our coach, Mr. Muller. He was always there to give advice and moral support. We also appreciate the time he has invested in us. We'd like to thank our family and friends, who gave us moral support. We'd like to thank our school for being very flexible and not limiting our potential.
Lastly, we'd like to thank all the people that contributed to The Green Alternative in some way or another. A special thanks to Mr. Johann Loubser, Mr. Riaan Meyer and Mr. Mercer Leeb for granting us interviews, as well as Mr. Neill Smit for taking us through his DIY Biodiesel process.
Technology: We'd like to thank Adobe for the software (Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements) they provided for the project. We used the software extensively and it made the whole development process a lot more efficient.
This website uses the Spry Framework, which is built into Dreamweaver. We also made use of Dreamweaver's Flash video player for playing the videos on the 'Home' and 'Biofuels' pages.
We'd also like to mention CCMixter.org here, as we used many songs available there. Quoting the website: "ccMixter is a community music site featuring remixes licensed under Creative Commons where you can listen to, sample, mash-up, or interact with music in whatever way you want." You'll find many of the songs used in our videos there.
> Recycle bin
We thought it would be interesting to show some of the 'working progress' we made during the project. These are all experiments that were done by the team members, but weren't used in the end (or developed to something else).