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Kinetic City's After-School Program
Fills in Gaps in Science Education
Kinetic Citythe web-based science education game produced by AAAS and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)is a finalist for the 2003 Codie Awards in the category of Best Elementary Education Instructional Solution.
The Codie Awards are given annually by the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) to honor the industry's finest products and services.
"To make the cut as a finalist is a terrific achievement," SIIA President Ken Wasch says. "Simply put, each finalist is a leader in its field."
Geared toward students in grades 3 through 5, Kinetic City is a fun and interactive way to learn about basic scientific principles.
Once logged on to Kinetic City, a short animation explains which strain of a computer virus named "Deep Delete" is the latest to attack planet Vearth, the virtual Earth. A series of learning activities then helps prepare kids for their Mission To Vearth, where they fight the virus by answering questions and racking up power points.
The game was developed mainly for team play in after-school clubs, and most of the activities can be done away from the computer. Kids can also participate in live online chats with scientists.
"Kinetic City is effective because it's hands-on," says Stella Pla, director for Project Learn at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. "The fantasy aspect engages kids' imaginations so they learn content while they're having fun."
The principles taught are based on the Benchmarks for Science Literacy, the national standards developed by AAAS's Project 2061 that describe what all students should know and be able to do in science, mathematics and technology.
Kim Trudden, education director for the Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club, credits Kinetic City with picking up where schools leave off.
"In most of the local schools, science has not been a major priority due to the requirements of standardized tests," Trudden says. "Kids are able to learn about science here at the club to make up for what they're not learning in school, and are getting an edge over their peers. Kinetic city is effective because it makes kids think outside the box. They can be creative but are still learning valuable information."
Participating clubs receive training for adult leaders and the written information and materials needed to carry out the activities. Each club also gets its own website where kids can report what they've learned.
Kinetic City began as a weekly radio show featuring the adventures of the Kinetic City Super Crew, a team of young people who travel around the world using science to solve mysteries.
The show won a 1996 Peabody Award, one of broadcast's highest honors, for its "ability to bring science to a new level of imagination." Episodes now air on XM Satellite Radio and other stations.
The Super Crew, also featured in a children's book series published by McGraw-Hill, plays an important role in the storyline of the Internet game as well.
13 January 2003