Ronald Vien, a senior at Pilgrim High School, wanted to make a difference when doing his senior project.
So, he chose to return to Oakland Beach Elementary School, where he attended elementary school, to give back to the school and its students. He chose to teach about Internet safety, an issue that has become increasingly prevalent for children.
“Some of the younger kids are growing up around something that is so much different than when I was that age,” Vien said. “When I was younger I learned the ways to be safe easily, none of the phones or numerous apps we see today existed. But now the Internet really controls so much of our life as well as younger kids.”
Vien chose Mary Chisholm, who was his 6th grade teacher, to be his mentor for his project. Chisholm referred to his project as one of their “success stories.”
Vien, being a former student at Oakland Beach who is now preparing to enter the University of Rhode Island in the fall with a biotechnology major, is someone who the children really look up to.
Vien remembers when he began to use computers in 6th grade, and said that over the years he has seen people run into security issues with computers and the Internet.
Vien reached out to Chisholm, who is now a first grade teacher at Oakland Beach. He started meeting with Chisholm last May, and they have spent over 15 hours working together to prepare this project. They decided to work with the 5th grade students, so Vien could educate the children more on Internet safety before they enter middle school.
He began by surveying the 5th graders in the fall to find out what they knew about computers and Internet safety. He then created a Kahoot!, which is game that engaged the children in the topic of Internet Safety.
Using the data gathered from the survey, Vien created an extensive PowerPoint that he presented to the students in February. The PowerPoint was used to show what the kids seemed to be misinformed on, based on the survey.
The PowerPoint covered topics such as reliable websites, the importance of not giving out their passwords, identity theft, cyber bullying, not to talk to strangers online, and ingrained in the students’ minds that once they post something on the Internet it will remain there forever, and it could come back to haunt them years from now.
“Ron did a really nice job on this, and it’s important that the children learn this information now at this age, before it’s too late,” said Chisholm.
To assess what the 5th graders learned, Vien created a poster contest for the students that took place in March. Students were able to be creative and demonstrate all they learned about Internet safety. First, second, and third place winners were picked and all the posters were hung around the school.
“They learned a lot based on the great posters they made, and it was really hard for me to choose three winners,” Vien said.
“What was nice about it was that not only could we assess what the 5th graders learned, other kids in the school see it so they are exposed to it too,” said Chisholm.
Vien said one memorable part of the project was the wide array of questions he got from the 5th graders, and the conversations he had with them about Internet safety.
Chisholm recalled that the students were excited each time Vien came in.
Faculty from Pilgrim will judge Vien’s project in May.