assie Hurlbut's grandfather lives in Virginia and doesn't get to the beach often, but he dived into the coral reef Web site his granddaughter helped create.
"He said it was just like having virtual coral," the Enchanted Lake Elementary fifth-grader said while seated in her school's computer lab.
Grandpa Bradburn's Internet message to his granddaughter posted on the site said, "Cassie, I am very proud of you for what you are doing."
But grandpa wasn't the only one impressed with the Web site designed by Hurlbut and schoolmates Kara Gustafson, Nani Yong, Charina Sumner, Ayo Sawada and Samantha Lau.
ENCHANTED WEB WINNERYou can view the Enchanted Lake team's winning Web site at
Enchanted Lake Elementary's team was one of five Hawaii teams to collect prize money and recognition in a national Web site design competition.
Enchanted Lake took first place (Platinum) in the social science category of the ThinkQuest Jr. 2000 competition for young Web designers.
A co-op team from King Kaumaualii, Moanalua and Aiea elementary schools got a Platinum award in the science and math category. Other teams took third place and innovation awards.
While students were the recipients of knowledge in this contest, coach Lena Kanemori said this effort could also help teachers across Hawaii become more comfortable with integrating technology into classroom lessons.
"It's hard to get teachers moving in this direction. But once they start and they start getting all this positive feedback from people, then they realize how important it is to share their work on the Internet," said Kanemori, who is Enchanted Lake's technology coordinator and also instructs other educators on the use of technology in the classroom.
"The biggest reward is when you are now a teacher not only of your classroom but of the whole world."
Hawaii teams win thousandsWith more than $250,000 in cash prizes, the ThinkQuest Jr. competition encourages boys and girls in grades 4 through 6 to take an active interest in computers and the Internet.
ThinkQuest Jr. is an Internet-based educational program founded by the nonprofit Advanced Network and Services.
The student team members are the ones who actually designed and developed the site.
The Enchanted Lake Elementary six-girl team, coached by Kanemori and librarian Harry Kubo, took home a total of $11,000 in cash for the Platinum Award. The team's entry was among 625 that were judged by members of the Internet Society.
Each platinum-winning team member received $1,000, each coach $2,000 and the school $1,000.
"It was kind of easy because we were all girls and it was like we were all sisters," Gustafson said of her team.
"I knew the pressures were very extreme. In order to do this, we had to give a lot of our time. We gave up a lot of our spring break to come here, and I knew we weren't going to get anywhere if we didn't have teamwork."
Academically gifted classThe six girls are members of an academically gifted and talented class that was studying coral reefs.
"Our last project was to find out why they were threatened," said Sumner, a sixth-grader.
"It's just like a rain forest. It's like an underwater world. Everybody just thinks the corals are rocks but they're actually alive, supporting life," said Gustafson, also in the sixth grade.
"And many people come to Hawaii just to see the coral reefs," Sumner said.
The girls visited Sea Life Park and the Waikiki Aquarium to shoot digital video and stills. They did lots of research, animated underwater drawings, came up with games and activities and turned their entire quest into a story on their Web site.
Kanemori said the comments from all over the world posted in their site's guest book and discussion room made them proud.
"I think the most important thing is that they said it was a great reference. I think it's a global reference."
Kanemori said that working on a project like this took her students a notch higher in using technology to reach a global audience.
"They play with this Web site and now they're educating students all over the world -- and adults," Kanemori said.
When they see the success of the site, "I'm getting responses from teachers saying, 'Maybe I should try,' " Kanemori said.
The winners were announced May 19 via Web cast.
"We cried. We let out tears," Hurlbut said.
You can view the Enchanted Lake team's winning Web site at http://library.thinkquest.org/J002237/
Four other local Web sites won honors in the Thinkquest Jr. 2000 Web site design competition:
OTHER WEB WINNERS FROM HAWAII
Platinum Award (first place)Science and Mathematics Category: Team with students from King Kaumualii, Moanalua and Aiea elementary schools
"Beauty and the Beast: Nature's Gift and Nature's Fury of Hawaii" explores the dual faces of Mother Nature in Hawaii.
$1,000 per team member, $2,000 per coach and $1,000 per school.
Silver Award (third place)Science and Mathematics Category: Fern Elementary
"How Pono the Happy Face Spider Found His Smile" looks at endangered species in Hawaii.
$500 per team member, $1,000 per coach and $500 for school.
Silver Award (third place)Interdisciplinary Category: Kapolei Elementary
"Hawaii's Living Treasures" focuses on Hawaii's threatened and endangered creatures.
$500 per team member, $1,000 per coach and $500 per school.
Innovative Simulation AwardSocial Sciences: Kapolei Elementary
"Values: Making Good Choices for Life" This site focuses on important values.
$1,250 per team member, $2,500 per coach, $1,250 per school