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Technology + Online + Industry + Partnerships

New Interactive Site DrawsStudents to Life Sciences

A virtual university is the setting as users participate in games andactivities meant to spark their interest in a health care career.

In BriefPERHAPS THE BEST WAY to interest students ina health care career is to give them an early tasteof medical school. Even elementary-age kidscan connect to the excitement that surrounds thelife sciences. To foster that enthusiasm early,the new interactive website BioWorksU.com sets games and experiments against the backdropof a virtual university.

Launched by the Indianapolis Private Industry Council (IPIC), a nonprofit workforce development agency for Marion County, the project was funded by a $1 million grant from the US Department of Labor. It was brought to fruition by partners spanning 38 occupations, from health care facilities to research companies.

The site is aimed at fourth-graders through young adults. By awarding students "degrees" for accumulating game credits, it means to deliver the message that higher education is needed to achieve the skilled occupations featured on the site. The games also expose players to images of buildings, labs, and other realistic resources. Activities include simulated DNA extraction, genetic crossing, and identification of parts of cells. One game involves advancing an ambulance through a maze by answering health-related questions; another calls for translating prescriptions from Latin.

"BioWorksU.com uses games and other interesting activities to get kids thinking about career goals and what they involve—and that's the first step toward achieving them," explains Eugene White, superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools.

Indiana teachers can use the various activities in class in conjunction with lesson plans tied to the state's academic standards. A staff member from The Children's Museum of Indianapolis wrote the lesson plans and provided technical assistance on the project. The museum is planning to provide teacher workshops on how to incorporate the site into the classroom.

A section of BioWorksU.com is available to help parents use the site at home with their children.

Video is also included on the site to show students career profiles and demonstrate how to find information about colleges and universities offering programs in the life sciences. All of the videos have closed captioning, and Spanish versions will be released this winter.

Only 10 percent of BioWorksU.com is specific to Indiana, so its resources can benefit students everywhere. IPIC staff members have already been asked to present about the project at education conferences around the country.

IPIC is working on two more career exploration sites. FutureInConstruction.com and MakeItMoveItIn.com (the latter about advanced manufacturing and logistics) will be available early next year.

STUDENT BUSINESSPLANS HONORED

THE THREE WINNERS of Minnesota'sClassroom of the Futurecompetition were recognized lastmonth at the 2007 TIES conferencein Minneaplis. The contest,which challenges students to drawup technology-based businessplans, was launched by TierneyBrothers, a Minneapolis audiovisualsystems firm.

Winners were rewarded for drawing up the most creative and viable ideas, as judged by a panel of business and marketing pros.

In the elementary school category, a second-grade team from Mississippi Elementary School, in Coon Rapids, won for creating a plan for 2DB's Garden Shop, an in-class venture that would grow and sell potted plants. The students planned to post podcasts via the class website to keep investors, customers, and all interested parties updated.

The Computer Club at Sandburg Middle School, in Golden Valley, won the middle school prize for devising Sandburg Technology Services, a tech services provider run by a group of students and educators.

At the high school level, Forest Lake Area Senior High School's DECA Chapter won for FL Graphic Solutions, a plan for a student-run decal-, banner-, trophy-, and plaque-printing company.

The winning schools will receive a suite of technology tools, including a Smart interactive whiteboard and an Epson LCD projector.

:: Industry News

EERI ACQUIRES EDUCATIONALRESOURCES AND SUNBURSTSOFTWARE. Education EnrichmentResources (EERI),a national provider of educationsupplies to the K-12 market, hasannounced its acquisition of resellerEducational Resources and educationalpublisher Sunburst Technology, bothfrom Thayer Capital Partners andheadquartered in Elgin, IL. Bothbrands will be retained and expanded.

EDUCATIONAL NETWORK PROVIDES FREE ENVIRONMENT FOR COURSE CONTENT. ChitChat has launched a new online resource for educators. Dubbed the Educational Network, the service provides free online hosting for class web pages and multimedia content and allows educators to share materials with one another.

One of the Educational Network's tools shows teachers a list of all student responses to each assignment; another allows teachers to write comments directly into the text of students' work and automatically send that feedback to students.

:: Awards

VISUAL LEARNING COMPANY WINSBEST OF SHOW. Adaptations, a film bythe Visual Learning Company (VLC), receivedthe Best of Show award at the 2007National Media Market.The 14-minute life science video forgrades 3 to 5 features footage from theGalapagos Islands, the Canadian RockyMountains, and New England.

The VLC creates science programs for science classrooms, district and regional libraries, statewide video streaming projects, instructional television stations, schools for the deaf, K- 12 and university curriculum libraries, and public libraries. It specializes in live-action videos, filmed on location around the world, and computer animation to illustrate scientific concepts.

SHODOR WINS GRAND PRIZE FROM CISCO. The Shodor Education Foundation, a nonprofit serving educators and students, was named the grand prize winner of the CiscoSystems Growing With Technology Awards 2007. Cisco recognized Shodor for the company's innovative use of technology to improve math and science education nationally.

Inspired by its first intern, Monte Evans, who is now pursuing his master's degree in information science, the Durham, NC-based company increased its involvement with local students through workshops, apprenticeships, and internships. Through these programs, students learn about the latest technologies, mentor one another, and eventually practice their math and science skills by developing and testing components of the organization's website and network.

:: Awards

CDW-G AND 8E6 JOIN FORCES.CDW-G and 8e6Technologies haveannounced a strategic partnership thatcouples 8e6's expertise in K-12 security,in particular its solution to thegrowing threat of web-based proxies,with CDW-G's powerhouse position inthe education technology industry.

The union is designed to offer schools the highest level of protection in an increasingly internet-based learning environment.

MVU AND SINET COLLABORATE TO PROVIDE PD. Michigan Virtual University, a not-for-profit corporation, has joined with the School Improvement Network (SINET) to provide Michigan teachers access to the professional learning content of SINET's PD 360. PD 360 will be integrated into Michigan LearnPort, a web-based professional development delivery system created in partnership with Michigan Virtual University and the Michigan Department of Education, and will be available to all K-12 educators in the state by the end of the current school year.

VIRGINIA DOE AND POKEMON TEAM UP FOR KIDS' SAFETY ONLINE. Last year, Virginia became the first state to require that all of its public schools teach internet safety. Now the Virginia Department of Education has teamed up with Pokémon Learning League to help districts meet this mandate by offering compelling lessons that teach students how to protect themselves online.

The Internet Safety Program at www.pokemonlearningleague.com/ internet consists of three interactive lessons, upper- and lower-elementary lesson plans and unit quizzes, tips for parents and guardians, a printable internet safety certificate for students, and a printable poster to remind students how to stay safe online. Upperand lower-elementary teachers' guides are provided so that educators may best integrate the Pokémon Learning League lessons into their classroom planning.

This article originally appeared in the 01/01/2008 issue of THE Journal.

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