We were personally intrigued by the leaps and bounds of progress made in the past century in regard to the transportation technology available to us. We wanted to show students the vast difference between the level of travel efficiency at the beginning of the 20th century and at the conclusion of it. We wanted to make a comprehensive amount of useful information freely available to any student doing research on the topic, complete with pictures and interactive elements to ensure the enjoyable absorption of facts. We want students surfing through the site to benefit from it by emerging more knowledgeable about the topic and at the same time we made sure that the learning process wasn't boring or static.
We aimed to highlight the ground-breaking inventions which catalyzed the development of transportation in its various fields, for example, the invention of the airplane in 1903 by the Wright brothers. These inventions paved the way for the rapid progress we see along the decades and we want to trace each step of development through the years of the 20th century.
Since space travel is a relatively recent development, we placed more emphasis on this exciting new prospect which is still actively being researched by the authorities. This is a whole new frontier in travel, and we made sure that we gave it extra coverage to ensure that our site provided the most up-to-date and accurate accounts of the Space Exploration Age!
We communicated primarily through e-mail, regularly exchanging messages with each other and our coaches, sending as many as 20 messages a week. We also arranged a weekly time to meet up for a real-time ICQ chat session to discuss matters more efficiently.
The Creation of the Team
Our team got together purely by coincidence, during sourcing for members in the TQ participant database and the TQ chat. Wilco and Sher-May got together first when they met on chat and immediately found themselves being able to communicate on the same frequency. They agreed to work together a couple of hours after they met and came up with the rough idea of the topic. Andrew joined the team shortly after, and he added his own ideas. After much brainstorming and decisions, the concept was cemented and agreed upon.
We all knew that we wanted a very interactive site, so that users would feel that they were really involved in the experience of surfing through the webpage instead of it merely being a static interface. We discussed the different aspects of our site: the search database, the information pages, the interactive Student-Teacher system, the remote control, the login function... after listing it all down, we divided the workload fairly among us such that our different areas of expertise could be fully utilized to the best of our ability. We worked to develop each part that we were assigned to and often collaborated to make sure our part fitted in well with the other two teammates and smoothly managed to string the site together.
Challenges along the Way
We faced many challenges along the way, but with teamwork and cooperation we found that these were far for insurmountable obstacles... we learnt that mutual consideration and respect did wonders for the smooth collaboration within our team, and that the difficulties along the way weren't beyond us.
Firstly, the vast time differences made it very hard for us to find a common time to meet up. Still we managed to talk at least once a week in live chat sessions, fixed usually on Sundays where we were more at leisure. It would often be 5pm in the afternoon for Sher-May, 11am in the morning for Wilco and 4am in the morning for Andrew! It was especially commendable for him to sacrifice his Sunday morning sleep for our project discussions.
Also due to the vast distances between us, the only way we could communicate was via email and chat. We couldn't just pick up the phone and talk -- this made us more aware of the need to correspond with each other regularly so this setback of distance would not impede our project progress.
So as to make our site as independent as possible, relying solely on the local Thinkquest server as far as possible, we determined to write our own codes for almost all of the interactive/programming elements present in our site. For example, the guestbook, as well as the intricate Student/Teacher interactive system. Everything was built and written by us, made from scratch, tested and perfected by us. We didn't want to depend on external providers which offer similar 'free services' like quiz questions generators. We wanted it to be exactly how we envisioned, with all the tailor-made options we felt would be best. It was a challenge to design such complicated systems on our own, but we managed to do so successfully, incorporating all the desired elements particularly into the two highlight features of our site: the Student/Teacher system and Search System.
Other challenges were the usual bugs: things which are supposed to work, but don't. These problems were scattered across the duration of working on the site but it didn't prove to be much difficulty-- we would either research into the program further or consult each other for help. We would also consult our coaches, several program FAQs and source the internet for useful assistance.