Louisiana Makes Big Commitment to Kinetic City After-School Program
In a first for AAAS's popular Kinetic City program, the state education department in Louisiana has agreed to sponsor the after-school activity in about 30 schools, churches and community centers in the state.
"It's the first expansion of the program into a state department of education," said Bob Hirshon, senior project director of media programs for AAAS. "That's very exciting, and we're hoping to replicate that in other states."
The state's investment is modesta little over $30,000but it promises to pay dividends in encouraging children's interest in science.
Because of the Louisiana Department of Education's investment in the program, Hirshon said, state officials "will have an interest in seeing that the schools have what they need" to make the program a success. Hirshon said discussions are underway with several other states that may wish to follow Louisiana's lead.
Kinetic City Super Crew
Kinetic City, now being used in about 160 locations around the country, features a web-based game for children ages 8 through 11. It combines online activities with hands-on science experiments aimed at making learning about basic science principles fun and entertaining. Up to 30 children participate at each site.
Players battle Deep Delete, a science-eating computer virus that threatens the civilization on Vearth, a virtual Earth. Children try to overcome the virus by doing a series of learning experiments and then testing their knowledge in a computer game. They can earn power points for themselves, their teams and their clubs.
In Louisiana, the after-school program will be established in a variety of community, church and school settings, including a center serving Vietnamese youth in New Orleans.
"We're in most states," Hirshon said. "One of our biggest clients is the Air Force. The program is being used at about 50 youth centers on Air Force bases, he said.
Kinetic City has been around for a decade. It was established originally as a radio show, which still airs today, and a series of books published by McGraw-Hill. The radio show won a George Foster Peabody Award in 1996 for excellence in broadcasting.
The web-based Kinetic City game won a 2004 Codie Award for the best education technology program geared to students from kindergarten to the sixth grade. The award is given by the Software & Information Industry Association.
The web-based after-school program, funded initially by the National Science Foundation, features the characters and the setting of the radio show but adds the use of the Internet and bi-monthly boxes of hands-on activity materials.
Hirshon and Russell Ginns, content director, will be going to Louisiana next week to train adult leaders for the new Kinetic City sites selected by the state education department. The Louisiana after-school program will get underway in earnest in the fall, he said, although some sites may decide to start introducing children to the program this summer.
Experience the Web portion of Kinetic City at www.kineticcity.com.
Learn more about Kinetic City at www.kcmtv.com.
16 June 2005