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Web learning – Focus on science, education

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By Todd Cohen

IBM Corp. is supporting new Web initiatives to boost education for youngsters.

Big Blue backed the creation this spring of tryscience.org, which focuses on children eight years old through middle school.

And next spring, the computer giant will launch a Web site for its Kidsmart early-childhood learning program.

IBM contributed $1.5 million to tryscience.org, a partnership that includes the Association of Science-Technology Centers, which has more than 450 museum members worldwide, as well as the New York Hall of Science.

Individual museums provide content for the site, which was developed by IBM and is managed by the Hall of Science.

IBM decided to support the project in the face of requests it had received from individual museums for donations to their capital campaigns, says Sherry Swick, IBM’s program manager for U.S. community programs.

After talking to individual museums and finding they wanted a better presence on the Web and a more effective way of communicating with one another, she said, the company concluded that creating a single site serving all museums would be more effective and cost-efficient.

IBM also has created tryscience.net, a password-protected site that participating museums can use to communicate among themselves and to provide content for the public site.

Next spring, IBM will launch a Web site for its Kidsmart program, which provides tech tools to strengthen early childhood education. The site will feature resources designed to help teachers and parents do a better job of helping youngsters learn how to use technology.

IBM has invested $2.5 million in Kidsmart, which was launched two years ago as a pilot project in eight locations and expanded last year throughout the U.S.

It serves 250,000 children in pre-schools and day-care centers in economically disadvantaged communities.

“It’s an extension of our corporate strategy, which is primarily focused on K-12, trying to get the youngest learners focused on technology and getting technology into the classroom,” says Swick.

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