Students at Westlake High School in Austin TX are in their second year of creating a virtual Vietnam Memorial to those who died in the war. Carolyn Foote, the Librarian at Westlake, has written movingly about it on her blog.
Students are assigned a soldier, conduct research, assemble a presentation, and then post it all on the web. This has spurred the interest of veterans one of whom said:
“Your school is about to do something that none of us thought would ever happen. Our beloved leader will be known to many in a time that others have been forgotten. You truly are paying a tribute to one of the finest men that ever lived.”
This is the kind of project that engages students in the larger world using Web 2.0. The fact that people who knew and loved the soldiers are paying attention makes it meaningful in ways that most schoolwork never addresses. Using a mix of music, photographs, and text the students are painting a bigger picture of each of those honored than found on traditional memorials.
It is part homework, part public service, and all heart.
I’m pleased that my son is one of the students working on the project this year. We’ve already had some interesting dinner conversations about it and we are looking forward to seeing the final results posted online.
If you want to track the project the students have a blog.