A Guide to the Tallgrass Prairie

Information About Our Site

  1. Link to our CyberFair 98 Entry:

    Terry the Prairie Dog: A Guide to the Tallgrass Prairie

  2. Link to:

    Ferree's Fourth Grade Class.

  3. Link to:

    Village Elementary School.

  4. Date of Project:

    March 11, 1998

  5. School:

    Village Elementary School


    Unified School District # 253


    Emporia, Kansas, United States of America

  6. Teachers or Classes:

    Robert B. Ferree's Fourth Grade Class

  7. How many students worked on this project?

    Twenty-one students worked on this project.

  8. Their ages were:

    The students were aged nine to ten.

  9. Project Contact Email:


Project Overview

  1. We entered our Web site in CyberFair Category:

    Category 5: Local Attractions (Natural and Man-Made)

  2. Description of "Our Community"

    Emporia is 110 miles southwest of Kansas City and is 85 miles northeast of Wichita. It has a population of about 28,000. The city is the county seat of Lyon County. Emporia is on the east edge of the Flint Hills. That is why we are called "The Front Porch to the Flint Hills". The scenic tallgrass prairie region is the only one of its kind in the world. It is the home of William Allen White, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Also, in Emporia is the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Nearby is the Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve featuring the Z- Bar Ranch. The "Birthplace of the Santa Fe Trail" in Council Grove is close as well. Our community is welcoming you to come and see all of these sights.

  3. Summary of Our Project

    Through our cyber-pet, Terry the Prairie Dog, we are providing the reader with a glimpse of life in Terry’s home, Tallgrass Prairie. The students have researched and reported on various topics such as:

    In addition, the students reported on local attractions and their history. These include:

    As well as nearby attractions:

  4. Our class hopes to be able to link our project with other schools in an electronic geography book. This page would be the prairie chapter of the book. (A similar project last year had links to the Redwood Forest area of California and the Piedmont Plateau region of Virginia.)

  5. Our Internet Access
  6. Our school’s internet access is accomplished through an Instant Internet connection on our building’s LAN with a 28,800 modem using our school district’s internet connection. We also have a separate internet account with a local provider, Computer Advantage, that we use to maintain our building’s web page. (This connection precedes the district one, and we have chosen to continue with it for the time being.)

  7. Problems We Had To Overcome

    The biggest problem we had to overcome was time as we signed on to the project quite late. Luckily, we had already started a similar activity and were able to convert it to the CyberFair 98 format. State assessments, preparation for an upcoming field trip to the state capital, and illness in the class played a part in the time crunch. Having a student teacher in class, Matt Heusman, helped a great deal. Matt was able to work with small groups of children while other students did their reports and illustrations.

  8. Our Project Sound Bite

    Our participation in the CyberFair 98 project has had two major effects on our students. They were able to learn a great deal about their local environment, the Tallgrass Prairie. In addtional, they were able to see the Emporia area's influences on the region, nation, and world.

Project Elements

This section explains how your project addressed the project elements found in the CyberFair Assignment to Schools.

1) How did your activities and research for this International School CyberFair project support your required coursework and curriculum requirements?

Our school district has a component in its Technology Outcomes that has fourth graders developing a multimedia presentation. We are using this project as a building block toward the completion of that goal. The students had already worked on doing research in libraries, various electronic media, and online through the World Wide Web. We also had scanned student artwork and put together animated GIFs on a previous project. The CyberFair 98 program gave us a chance to put some of these skills together into a multimedia presentation. In addition, one of our district outcomes in Social Science has students learning about local history and early settlers. This project gave us an opportunity to share some of this information. Students worked in small groups to put together the information on the various topics.

2) What information tools and technologies did you use to complete your CyberFair project?

In this project we used the following tools and technologies:

3) In what ways did you act as "ambassadors" and spokespersons for your CyberFair project both on-line and in person.

Our CyberFair 98 project is an extension of a web page project on prairies and one on The Neosho Madtom, a local endangered fish, that Mr. Ferree's 1996-97 class did. From these projects, as well as the present one, we have acted as "ambassadors" to people in the community, across the state, and nationally. Locally, news reports on two local radio stations, KVOE and KANS, and in the Emporia Gazette told the community of Emporia about work the students had performed on the projects. Students consulted and received information from professors at Emporia State University. A presentation was made to the local school board and to school district administrators about these projects and the technology used in complete them. Email messages on last year's prairie project have been received from across the country. (We ended up being keypals with a class in Rhode Island as a result of one contact.) We have had letters from three authors about our work. One of the authors made a request to site our Neosho Madtom page as an example of work that elementary students can do on the web in an upcoming book she was authoring. A news reporter at KANS probably best summed up the way we have been "ambassadors" by commenting how our project takes children's work "beyond the refrigerator door" by putting it on the internet.

4) What has been the impact of your project on your community?

This project has not been out on the World Wide Web long enough to have a real impact yet on the community, but its predecessors did. As mentioned above, several news stories on radio and in the newspaper did relate the students’ work to the local area. The local school board, area school administrators, and individuals from Emporia State University all had good comments about the students’ hard work. Various individuals and classes sent us letters telling how they found our page while searching for information on prairies. We have linked our page to two other schools’ pages on their regional environment and hope to find more classes that wish to be included in this project.

5) How did your project involve other members of your community as helpers and volunteers?

Mr. Ferree’s Fourth Grade Class wishes to thank Matt Heusman, our student teacher, for all of his help on this project. We would also like to thank Brenda Boyce, our computer lab attendant, and Dr. Ed Gerhardt, our principal, for their help and encouragement. A big thank you also goes out to the parents that helped chauffeur students around while taking pictures and bringing in materials that were accidentally left at home.