Grade: all
Subject: Geography

#1814. Tracking Sydney 200 Olympic Games

Geography, level: all
Posted Fri Jun 23 09:49:52 PDT 2000 by Jan Reisetter (
Waterloo Comm.School District, Waterloo, Iowa
Materials Required: Internet, Inspiration 6.0 software
Activity Time: 4+ lessons
Concepts Taught: map skills, math, writing, info-gathering

Using the Internet to Enhance Student Learning: Final Project

Janis Reisetter
June 23, 2000

Title: Tracking the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games

Subject Matter Emphasis and Level:
Geography (Map Skills)
Science (Weather)
Information/Organization Skills (Chart)
Writing Skills (E-mail)

4th and 5th Grade

Brief Description of the lesson:
During the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, students in media class will track the medal count of the participating athletes. This information will be organized in chart form. Students will locate on maps the participating African countries. Temperature comparisons between Waterloo, IA and Sydney, Australia will be displayed in chart form. Students will also e-mail Cynthia from Adelaide, South Australia, during the Olympics Games.

Why Do This?
This learning activity addresses the 4th/5th grade technology standards of being able to use the Internet by accessing web sites for information and conducting e-mail
The media standards are addressed through students' effective use of the electronic and print forms of the atlas as a reference tool.

This learning activity reinforces the following components of The Waterloo Community School District's mission:
ostudents will become more knowledgeable persons and life long learners (by increasing global awareness through map study and current events.)
ostudents will become critical thinkers (as they predict, contrast, and compare, and problem-solve in the areas of weather, time zones, cultural similarities and differences.)
ostudents will become more effective communicators (through e-mail correspondence with Cynthia in Adelaide.)
ostudents will be collaborative participants (as they work together in small groups to gather updates from the official Olympic Games site and post the information on a large chart in the school hall.)

Our students need to increase their global awareness, and specifically, to be familiar with locations of African countries. Knowledge of current events is a life-long learning habit that is important for students to establish. Students must continually be given meaingful-task opportunities to strengthen their Internet skills.


As a result of this online project, students will be more familiar with and be able to locate
on a map the participating countries, with emphasis upon African countries.

Students will be better able to compare and contrast lifestyles and cultures in order to gain global awareness.

Students will be able to gather and organize weather information into chart format.

Students will practice writing skills within the framework of meaningful tasks.

Students will have ownership of the project by deciding which African countries they want to identify, based upon criteria they set, such as countries with the most athletes in Sydney, or the home countries of favorite athletes. Ownership and responsibility for learning will be demonstrated as students check the web sites and chart the information for medals awarded and also chart weather comparisons between Waterloo, IA, and Sydney, Australia.. Content will be controlled by students as they compose e-mail letters
to Cynthia from Adelaide, SA, and Joey Woody, a track and field hopeful from
Cedar Falls, IA.

As students participate in this multidisciplinary project, they will learn or will reinforce skills in the areas of geography, as countries are located; math, as the awarded medal are tallied; science, as temperatures are tracked; and information skills, as data is organized and charted. Writing skills will be reinforced through the exchange of e-mail with Cynthia and Joey.

While our students have an interest in the African continent, they also need to sharpen their map reading and location skills. They are enthused about using the Internet and sending e-mail, but need more experience in order to become independent and responsible users. Following current events is an important habit for students to develop. All of these skills will be strengthened at the same time that an exciting and meaningful global event is occurring!

Throughout the project careful observation will be made to identify and discuss concepts such as time zone changes, Centigrade/Fahrenheit temperature differences, and cultural similarities and uniqueness. Challenging vocabulary and even spellings such as "centre" and "favourite" will be explained.


Assessment will be ongoing and integrated with instruction as students display more confidence and independence in accessing web sites, collecting data from the sites, and organizing and adding that information to charts that will be displayed on a hall bulletin board at the school. Students will be successful if they are able to collaborate their efforts and to keep the chart updated. Other classes will provide indirect assessment as they stop to read the charts produced by the fourth and fifth grade students. Students should show increasing ease in identifying African countries whose athletes are represented at the Games. In addition, students will self-assess the clarity and accuracy of their writing skills when they compose e-mails. Increased awareness of current events will be evident through discussions as a result of visiting the web sites.

Teaching Strategies

Students will learn content by viewing a graphically organized content map created from Inspiration 6.0 software and by becoming active participants in accessing web sites, locating and evaluating information on those sites, and transferring the information to charts. This project lends itself to student collaboration because small groups will be responsible for information gathered and produced through assigned tasks that will require critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Throughout the project the teacher's role will be as guide. As students become more familiar with athletes and their countries and specifically with Australia by e-mail exchange with Cynthia, the teacher will also guide students to discover cultural similarities and differences and to begin to appreciate those differences.

Materials and Resources

Community Resources

University of Northern Iowa Athletic Department
Mr. Joey Woody, Assistant Track and Field Coach

Technology Resources


Eyewitness Children's Encyclopedia CD-ROM for Win 95, 98.
Inspiration 6.0. Software for Win.98

Spurr, Cynthia, Adelaide, S. Australia
e-mail address to be obtained

Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, official site


Woody, Joey, Cedar Falls, IA resident at Olympic Games


After being introduced to the content map the week prior to the Olympic Games, the students will be organized into 5 groups with 4 or 5 students in each group. Each group will have 1 specific task:
develop chart
obtain medal count from the official Olympic web site
obtain temperature information from the weather web site
locate African countries on a map
compose e-mail to Cynthia

Students gathering data from the web sites will first record the data in a designated booklet, so that information transferred to the medal chart will be accurate.

This project will be conducted in the school's media center and with a minimum of physical change. There are 2 Internet drops in the media center and that will result in some limitations and adaptations. The group with the task of identifying and locating African countries will use the electronic encyclopedia CD-ROM, Eyewitness Children's Encyclopedia, containing an up-to-date atlas, since the 2 Internet drops will be used to access the Olympic and the weather sites. The e-mail can be composed in handwritten form during class, then outside of class, entered and sent as e-mail. Groups will share findings with entire group. If time allows, small groups can rotate tasks so that all students are able to experience the entire project. This project will be a reference point for teaching related concepts throughout the year.

Since this project will take place at the beginning of the year, when skills of working independently are not well developed, some aspects of the project may become large group activities. The first e-mail composition may become a large-group project, with contributions from anyone within the class.

Regardless of modifications, job descriptions and sequence of tasks will be clearly printed out for each group. Informal assessments can be made in the following weeks, as students become less dependent upon these instructions. The special needs students will have a teacher's aide to help the students work as collaborative members of the group. A volunteer mentor can be paired with as student who needs more direction Extra media time is available for individual students or groups needing extra work time or online time.
The teacher should strive for a learning environment that values contributions from al class members.

Support Services

The hardware and software needed for this online project are located in the media center. The newest copyrighted atlas CD-ROM available from AEA7 could be ordered for use in locating participating countries at the Games.

This project should be discussed with the classroom teacher so that concepts taught during the project can be integrated and reinforced.