A Wikipedia Experience

In this past January Term, I had the opportunity to learn how edit articles on Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. It was definitely an experience unlike any other that I had. From editing the Wikipedia articles, I came to understand the importance of expanding on factual information. Going through the tutorial, I realized that there are numerous editors and contributors who continuously watch and maintain credibility of different articles that are edited. Any major edits have to backed up by both primary and secondary sources. As a result, Wikipedia articles are essentially a tertiary source of information that collects vast amounts of primary and secondary sources to substantiate its article’s claims.

In my web design class, I was assigned to make a significant contribution to a Wikipedia Article of my choice. I decided to edit the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science web article. As a graduate of the academy, I had a love for the program. It was a memorable experience that really shaped my outlook on my college career. My interest to edit this article came from noticing that much of the student life volunteering and academic requirements had been minimal and not up to date. I was curious to how I could personally expand upon the article, so I decided to look back on my experience and do some research. One of the major edits that I had contributed was adding a volunteering section detailing some of the general opportunities that most TAMS students participate in along with describing community projects founded by TAMS students themselves.

In my graduating class (the Class of 2015), we were able to expand on numerous TAMS non-profit start ups that promoted volunteering and community outreach. One of the most prominent that I was eager to write about included Forward Tutoring and PCS 2 Prosper. Forward Tutoring was a program that started around 2011 with a beta launch. Its mission was to tutor students from across the country through online services provided by TAMS students themselves. As a result, students who are tutored, give back to the community by pledging to volunteer at other non-profit organizations in need of assistance. I had the pleasure of working within the program as a tutor, and the impact that I was able to see from the students and the communities were promising. PCS 2 Prosper was another smaller organization that focused on helping volunteers collect donated laptops and computers, make any repairs, and distribute them to local schools and homes within the Denton area. This was another project founded by TAMS students that happened to be a success and has a decent turnout for participation even today.

Another major edit that I had the chance of making was to add statistics to the Academics section on some of the achievements that TAMS students have accomplished at the Siemens-Foundation Science Competition within the past 3 years. The data that was added to the article was referenced from the official Siemens-Foundation website along with a few articles from the TAMS website. My third and final edit consisted of adding to the academic curriculum section of the page that detailed minimum GPA requirements and academic privileges.  These edits were referenced in the official TAMS website academic policy page.

The assignment was a very challenging one at that, as Wikipedia is a constantly evolving resource. Finding the right article to edit and significantly contributing to it took some time. I searched through several articles on numerous topics. Initially, my interests were to edit an articleTexas_Academy_of_Mathematics_and_Science_Logo on a topic in medicine (viruses, antibiotics, diseases, etc.), but I had realized that so much information has been verified already that it would have been extremely difficult to effectively contribute to any of these articles. My knowledge of many of these subjects is also limited considering I’m not a physician (YET)! In the end, I felt that this article best suited me in that it was something that I personally had an experience to be apart of, and through my time as a student in the academy, I had gained enough knowledge that I felt confident in making a valuable contribution to an article that more accurately attributes to the vastness of opportunities that TAMS stands for.