I enjoyed the site you sent me. I have it bookmarked for my
students to use. I am really interested in how they built such an
amazing site with old computers. I am sorry I have not responded
sooner. Thank you again.
by Steve Feld
While the modern computer classroom is equipped with up to date equipment, we used Tandy 1000 computers originally installed in our school in 1983, to create "Why is the Mona Lisa Smiling?"
The Tandy uses 5 1/4" double density disks which are becoming hard to find. The motherboard contains 8088 chips which predate the 286 computers. In those days any computer lab was considered a luxury.
We anticipated a new lab in the Autumn 1998, but my students and I were eager to log on to the Internet to participate in the ThinkQuest contest. We could not wait for new machines so we jumped right in with our antique computers. These machines do not have a mouse, Windows or even a hard drive.
We were able to create graphics with a DOS based drawing program called PC Crayon. The keyboard controlled cursor gave us the required precision we needed to create the web images. A shareware program called Iconvert was used to convert the resulting drawing format, into an Internet compatible GIF format.
The morphing sequence was created with RMorf, a Public Domain program which costs one dollar.
Our Principal Gino Silvestri had a phone line installed in our classroom. Through the kind donation of a Compaq 386 from the KRC Corporation we were online.
We use Professional Write, a text processor to write the Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) to create the web pages. My student team leader Khoa Chau was familiar with java applets which he used to create the online quiz.
Since we wanted our site to be accessible with all browsers, including Netscape version 1.0, (since that is the Browser we must use), we needed to learn how to use Perl Scripts to insure participation in our quiz taking activity to those using older browsers.
My students researched the work of da Vinci and discovered that he wrote music. We digitized the music and present it on our site with wav and midi formats. Our site is accessible to the hearing impaired. Hand signing animations provide links to hard of hearing resource links.
We did not wait to get the most up to date equipment and were able to create a worthwhile educational experience for all students. Together, we learned how to integrate multimedia, graphics and animation through a rigourous and intensive deadline driven most ambitious project.
Was it worth the effort? Our interactive guestbook was signed on August 23, 1997 from a visitor from Mongolia. Since that time, our guestbook has been signed each and every day what has become a most welcome and rewarding continous chain of support from educators and students representing over 60 countries and 46 states across America.
Our site has become part of the Getty Museum of Art in January 1998 in their opening Digital Experience. We became SemiFinalists in the GII US Education Awards and MidLink Magazine contines to feature our site. Global SchoolNet Foundation has seleced our site for their Teachers Choice for the Month of March. Our Mona Lisa Lesson Plan was picked up by Encarta and is now part of their Lesson Plan Collection. Global School House has published an article about our site in The Well Connected Educator on June 2. We will be in the Weekly Reader Galaxy in October 1998.
We continue to evolve with our Contributions from the Field. Rina da Firenze author of Mystery of the Mona Lisa provided new information which allowed my students to conduct their Scientific Investigation.
Teachers enrolled in my Internet training workshop contributed educational curriculum resource links with their newly created pages. The workshop was funded by the Bronx Superintendency.
Through our da Vinci dissemination we presented workshops at the Make It Work Conference, supported by AT&T in partnership with the New York City Board of Education at the Grand Hyatt, and at the School Tech Exposition at the New York City Hilton Hotel, where my students presented Why is the Mona Lisa Smiling? in the Classroom of the Future exhibit.
Computer Graphics Instructor
John F. Kennedy High School
99 Terrace View Avenue
Bronx, New York 10463
JFK High School Web Sites: The JFK Website
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We Were Wired to the WWW