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Caught in The Web


This month, we've caught "Midlink" Magazine in the World Wide Web. Although "Midlink" originated as an idea of the students and teachers of Discovery Middle School in Orlando, Florida, the magazine truly has become the collaborative effort of middle school students worldwide. They label themselves a "cooperative project developed by middle school students from the global community with a little help from adults."

Their motto, "Midlink is created by kids, for kids," genuinely expresses their style. Colorful kid-produced graphics greet you on every page. There's an open invitation for students to participate. They seem to want to reach around the globe, and their Far Away Contest proves it. They seek the reader or contributor who lives the greatest distance from Orlando. February's contest winner was the fifth grade class from Wanniassa Hills Primary School in Canberra, Australia.

Their efforts to include students from all over the world seem to be working. The February issue's list of contributing students included schools from Florida, Washington, England, Hawaii, New York, Wyoming, North Carolina, and Australia. Now that's collaboration!

One of the adults who provides a little help is Caroline McCullen, Telecommunications Teacher at Discovery Middle School. She originally perceived of "Midlink" as a place for students to publish and share their hyperstudio stacks. Through e-mail communication, she organized a core group of teachers who were also seeking ways to publish student work on the Web. They are, in the words of Caroline herself, "the quintessential cyberspace collaborative."

From those humble beginnings emerged a dedicated committee of teachers and technical advisers who oversee the students' creation process. The group includes Caroline McCullen and Tina Petro (from Discovery Middle School), Dale Beasley (St. Philomena School, Des Moines, Washington), Paola D. Williams (Punahou School, Honolulu, Hawaii), Natalie Wise (Wanniassa Hills Primary School, Canberra, Australia), Alan Harris (Shepshed High School, Leicestershire, England), Grace Repass (Grady Brown Elementary, Hillsborough, North Carolina), Deanie West (Monroe Middle School, Green River, Wyoming), and a team of Technical Advisors at the University of Central Florida.

Together, the committee plans new projects, decides how each issue might look, and seeks technical help when needed. However, when it comes to style and content, the group defers to the students, because, after all, they are the experts on what middle school kids want.

The group is diverse, with levels of expertise ranging from beginner to technology specialist. Their technical support comes from the Orange County School District and, of course, the University of Central Florida's Computer Science Department, which serves "Midlink" for the collaborative.

This month, "Midlink" begins an exciting partnership with the NOAA Ship MALCOLM BALDRIGE, an oceanographic research vessel that set sail out of Miami, Florida in February. The ship's Captain, Craig Nelson of NOAA, and his crew will be interacting with "Midlink" readers throughout their round-the-world voyage.

Clearly, "Midlink" is involved in some exciting projects. They invite middle schools worldwide to join the collaborative and contribute ideas.

Visit "Midlink " Magazine, which debuted on September 19, 1994.

Who will be "Caught in The Web" next month? Feel free to send us suggestions.

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