Guide to the UN Cyberschoolbus
The United Nations Cyberschoolbus, located at www.un.org/cyberschoolbus, is the UN's information center for students and teachers. Whether you are a student preparing for a Model UN conference or working on a research project, or a teacher preparing a lesson on hunger or looking for an activity on landmines, the Cyberschoolbus is likely to have something for you. Here are a few of the most valuable resources Cyberschoolbus has to offer:
Curricula and Projects
The most fact-packed section of the Cyberschoolbus website is found under the "Curriculum" link on the right side of the page. If you're a teacher and you want to prepare a lesson on an issue in international affairs today, this is the spot for you. The Cyberschoolbus provides detailed curricula, ranging from issues on urbanization and human rights to outer space exploration. Each curriculum is divided into units and consists of a lesson plan, suggested activities and quizzes. Curricula include a history of the topic, actions taken by the UN, and ways for students to get involved. Many of these topics also include online projects designed to enable your students to talk and interact with students around the world. For example, the landmines curriculum includes the "Schools Demining Schools" project, which helps students organize fundraising programs and campaigns that help schools around the world get rid of landmines.
The curriculum section also includes a selection of briefing papers. These papers cover twenty topics, including governance, international law, child soldiers, technology and poverty. Briefing papers are designed to inform teachers about complex UN topics. They are well-structured and comprehensive; each includes an overview of the topic, progress that has been made, a specific example of something related to the topic and the steps that will or should be taken in the future. Each also suggests activities for students, and provides resources for further exploration. Though the briefing papers are designed for teachers, and can be a valuable addition to any classroom, they are also perfect for Model UNers who plan to discuss these topics at upcoming conferences!
Model United Nations Headquarters
The UN Cyberschoolbus has information on Model United Nations, including advice on how to research for a Model UN conference, start a Model UN team, or find a Model UN conference to attend, and general FAQ about Model UN. It also has an interactive forum where Model UNers around the world can share tips and information on country policies. Cyberschoolbus MUN Headquarters is a useful supplement to UNA-USA's Model UN resources.
InfoNation and Country Profiles
InfoNation gives you all the economic, demographic, technological and social statistics you could ever want about a country. You can even use InfoNation to compare statistics about as many as six countries at a time. Country Profiles include maps and information about population, capital, currency and more. It provides website and address information for each country's Mission to the United Nations. InfoNation makes an excellent first stop for delegates researching their country assignment before an MUN conference.
United Nations Virtual Tour
Far from New York? No problem! The UN Virtual Tour, accessible from the Resources section of the Cyberschoolbus website, walks you through the UN Headquarters from the comfort of your own home or school. Like the tour given in New York, it showcases the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, Security Council, and Trusteeship Council chambers, and provides a brief description of each. It also visits some of the art inside the UN building, including the Peace Bell donated by Japan and the Foucault Pendulum donated by the Netherlands. In some respects, the virtual tour is better than the real tour: unlike the physical one, the virtual tour also covers the Dag Hammarskjöld Library. At the end, there is a brief quiz on the UN Headquarters, should teachers choose to make the Virtual Tour a classroom activity.
Introduction to the UN
Now that you know what UN Headquarters looks like, it's time to learn about what happens there. For that, you need the Introduction to the UN, also in the Resources section of the Cyberschoolbus. Designed for students, the Introduction covers the history, principles and structure of the UN. It concludes with a link to the organizational chart of the UN from the main UN website, encouraging students to explore further on their own.
It's all very well to know the history and structure of the UN, and to see what its headquarters looks like, but that doesn't give students an idea of what the UN actually accomplishes or how it affects people's lives. For that, students (and teachers) should turn to the UN Works page, accessible either through the Resources section or directly at www.un.org/works. With sections on Development, Education, Women, HIV/AIDS, the Environment and much more, UN Works describes, in terms tailored to appeal to students, today's global issues, and how the UN addresses them. For example, in the Environment section, a page on endangered species tells how the UN has worked to protect giant pandas, gorillas and other threatened species; the Development section shows how UN agencies brought electricity to remote Nepalese villages.
One of the best ways to explore the world is through art. The Cyberschoolbus Gallery presents a number of art exhibitions, including photography, painting and other media, mostly done by children. Some exhibits have been: "Aftershocks," a collection of journals and art by teenagers who survived the Bosnian civil war or the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York; "Cities of the World," children's drawings of their conception of the urban environment; and "On Being Myself," photographs of and interviews with ten young people in ethnic minority groups in Denmark, as they describe what it is like to live as a minority in the mostly-homogeneous country.
Voices of Youth
Accessible through the Community section of the Cyberschoolbus, or directly at www.unicef.org/voy, Voices of Youth is UNICEF's online bulletin board where children and teenagers around the world discuss issues that affect their lives. Teachers can use Voices of Youth to teach their students about the world by connecting them to students in other countries, while learning about serious global issues. Voices of Youth can open students' eyes, and give them an entirely new community and set of friends with whom to communicate.