Summer Study '03: What Do the Phase II Scholars Do?

Phase II Scholars return to the University of Washington campus for their second Summer Study. They meet the Phase I Scholars as they participate in their first Summer Study, learn about college life and career preparation, and participate in a one-week workshop with postsecondary instructors. The following articles summarize some of the experiences of the Phase II Scholars.

As the World Turns

by Phase II Scholars Ryan, Rebecca, Saroj, Jared, and Silvia, and Interns Amy and Israel

In this workshop we talked, learned, and explored our world. For example, we learned about why there are seasons, time zones, the features of mountains, the moon, and gravity.

On Monday, we made a globe using a conic map and labeled the seven continents, the five seas, the Equator, the IDL (International Date Line), and the Greenwich Meridian. On Tuesday, we talked about GPS (Global Positioned Satellite), and discovered that you need three satellites to find the position where you are. We used latitude and longitude to find different places on the map. We learned that seasons are caused by the tilt of the Earth and the revolutions around the sun. On Wednesday, we worked with topographical maps by building playdough mountains. We learned that the closer the contour lines, the steeper the mountain. On Thursday, we talked about travel, spin, direction, the IDL, and biorhythms. We learned to tell the time difference from one point to another on the Earth. On Friday, we learned how gravity relates to all of the planets, including the moon and the sun. As the Earth rotates, the moon's gravity pulls the water on the Earth, causing the tides to fluctuate. Overall, we now have a better understanding of the world we live in and everything around us.

Human Interface Technology and the Center for Environmental Visualization

by Phase II Scholars Chris, Gimmie, Dale, Angela, and Andrew, and Interns Jacob and Brandon

This workshop took place in the UW HIT (Human Interfacing Technology) Lab. On Monday, we were introduced to Bruce Campbell, who gave us a background about the project we were going to be doing and how it related to real projects such as the Neptune Project. The goal of the Neptune Project is to wire the Juan de Fuca Plate so that real-time data about volcanic activity and sea life can be received from the ocean floor.

The Neptune Project lacks one thing — the support of the younger generation. So, in addition to making a MagicBook, a program that projects 3D images into a real environment, we worked on a game. The purpose of the game was to use real data from the ocean floor to provide entertainment. We created our own submarines and incorporated them into the MagicBook. The submarines were placed into a gaming environment and rules were added to the game.

Web Accessibility Workshop

by Phase II Scholars Leon, Amy, Carson, Rima, and James, and Interns Sarah and Caleb

Accessing the web is important for any disabled individual, whether they are blind, deaf, learning disabled, or physically impaired. Web accessibility is critical because everyone with access to the Internet should be able to view or listen to any web page in a clear and simple manner. The majority of web pages do not have a logical reading order, or do not have sufficient alternative text that can be read by people who are blind and use speech output systems to read the content on the screen. The project that our group undertook was to check to see if the main Amazon and Boeing web pages were accessible to people with disabilities.

Evaluating a web page can be frustrating and monotonous because it is difficult to find the errors when they are not on the page in plain sight. A program called Wave was used to check the two pages for alternative text, and formatting and readability errors. One of the tasks that the Wave software program performs is to check to see if there is any alternative text that is hidden or missing on a web page. While we were evaluating the selected websites with Wave™, we discovered that the Amazon page had text-based errors. The Boeing page had errors with their Flash menus. For example, Amazon had problems with including alternative text, while Boeing had trouble with using abbreviations.

Missing alternative text and using Flash menus create accessibility problems for some people. A color blind person cannot change the color contrast on a Flash menu, which has the site's main links. This prevents him from understanding what to do or where to go on the site. Text, reading order, and image errors can affect web accessibility; if the sidebars or images on a page do not have alternative text, then an individual who is blind cannot understand the page. In these instances, the screen reader would only read the word image instead of the actual title of the sidebar.

After the group evaluated the web pages and tallied the errors, the consensus was that the Boeing web page was more accessible than the Amazon page. The group learned valuable lessons from the project. We learned how to use the Wave program, and that web accessibility needs to be increased to give as many people as possible the chance to access the web in a manner that conforms to their disability.

The Game of Life™ and Image Processing: Phase II Workshop

by Phase II Scholars Alexandra, Ian, Caleb, and Scott

In this workshop, we altered the coding that dictates Conway's Game of Life™, a preexisting Java program. We used newly acquired knowledge of basic Java commands, a few references, and Dr. Java™ (a Java editor). One of our instructors, who has a visual impairment, also uses Jaws™, a screen reader. Depending on interest and aptitude, Scholars created new rules to control life functions, develop self-reproducing patterns, or process image properties, colors, and actions. All agreed that the greatest difficulty was comprehending what to modify in order to cause what you want to happen. For example, to make an object appear to move to the right, the program is written to copy the color in the left neighboring space. Overall, the Game of Life™ workshop was a challenging and entertaining experience.