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New Web Site Offers Children Hours Of Fun

August 3, 1999 -- Designed for children, the Virginia Discovery Museum's new web site offers interactive activities and projects that can be downloaded for at-home fun.

Two University of Virginia graduate students, Frank Diller and Ronda Grogan, redesigned the museum's existing web page to appeal to children, and if early numbers are any indication, it is a success. The site, which went on-line in June, attracted 12,000 "hits" or accesses by individuals during its first month. The site’s previous average was about 1,500 hits per month.

The site offers information about current short-term exhibits at the museum as well as permanent displays. It also describes outreach programs, lists a calendar of events and provides information on the Virginia Discovery Museum, a place on the Downtown Mall where children can engage in hands-on exhibits that explore topics in the arts, sciences, humanities, nature and history.

The site's "Kids" section offers a broad range of activities for children, aged approximately 2 through 8. Children, for example, can enjoy a virtual "teddy bear tour" of Showalter Cabin, an authentic 18th century log building from Rockingham County that is part of the museum's permanent display. They can also participate in a number of on-line games or download art projects to complete or drawings of the museum’s costumes to color.

Diller and Grogan undertook the redesign of the web site as part of requirements in a museum education course taught by John Bunch, associate professor in U.Va.'s Curry School of Education. Both students wanted to create a site that would interest children. "We wanted to create a site that would be enjoyable to the majority of museum visitors -- and their parents," Diller said.

Diller and Grogan, who both completed their master’s degree requirements in the American studies program in August, are most proud of the site’s virtual tour of the cabin. "We focused on that as the site’s showcase, and I think it reflects the time we put into it," Grogan said.

Both Bunch and Fenella Belle, exhibit and outreach coordinator at the museum, agree that the new web page presents an attractive introduction to the breadth of activities available at the Virginia Discovery Museum. "The students did a very nice job of applying many of the learning principles of interactive web design to the museum site," Bunch said.

For more information, contact Ronda Grogan through Aug. 7 at (804) 245-8032 or via rg2a@virginia.edu. Frank Diller can be reached through Aug. 5 at (804) 984-4973 or fd8d@virginia.edu. John Bunch is at (804) 924-0834 or jbb2s@virginia.edu, and Fenella Belle is at (804) 977-1025 or fbelle@cstone.net.

Contact: Ida Lee Wootten, (804) 924-6857.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Please contact University News Services at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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