Site Lets Children Dig for Factsabout Agricultural Research

By Szadkowski, Joe | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 27, 2000 | Go to article overview

Site Lets Children Dig for Factsabout Agricultural Research


Szadkowski, Joe, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Two of my favorite pastimes, food and science, have found a child-friendly cyber-home courtesy of the Agriculture Research Service's Information Staff.

Its Sci4Kids site helps explain what the 1,700 ARS scientists do at more than 100 locations in the United States and abroad. Students learn that these researchers, who specialize in numerous disciplines such as microbiology, chemistry, engineering and plant pathology, work together to make sure the world has high-quality, safe foods while protecting and improving soil, water and other natural resources.

SCI4KIDS

SITE ADDRESS: www.ars.usda.gov/is/kids/

Creator: Nearly two years old, Sci4Kids is written, designed, primarily illustrated and run by members of the ARS Information Staff, the chief research arm for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Members of the Information Staff, comprising writers, editors, designers, photographers and their supervisors, work from Beltsville.

CREATOR QUOTABLE: "We created Sci4Kids to show and tell curious kids about what ARS scientists do, both in and out of the lab. Why? Because agriculture is as much about science, and scientific discovery, as it is that venerable image of cows, pigs, plows and faded overalls," says Jan Suszkiw, Sci4Kids coordinator. "Kids might not always realize it, but examples of science and agriculture can be found daily in their lives, from frozen orange juice concentrate, to wrinkle-free cotton shirts, to this Monday's story on tractors and a bus that runs on soybeans."

WORD FROM THE WEBWISE: Sci4Kids successfully sheds light on the exciting world of high-tech agriculture.

This nonprofit, educational Web site offers 8- to 13-year-olds a chance to view some of the latest reports in ARS' monthly magazine "Agricultural Research" and other news reports through colorful and engaging presentations using easy-to-understand terminology.

Visitors will find two ways to get to the mini-reports. Computer users can satisfy their curiosity by clicking on areas of a large illustration featuring Dr. Watts (a strange gentlemen in lab coat with a light bulb for a head), or simply using the "Contents" link found at the bottom of the page.

For example, a click on the smiling water drop behind Dr. Watts takes children to an area devoted to the environment with four stories from which to choose: "Hold the Chemicals and Pass the Mold Please," "Rhizobium to the Rescue (Tint Root Bacteria May Help Clean Toxic Soils)," "Scientists See Snowflakes Like Never Before with New Microscope," and "In the Desert, A Date With the Sun."

Overall, 17 topics ranging from "Animals" to "Weird Science," with a total of 50 stories, are presented.

Each loads on a self-contained page and features a mix of photography, animated images, hot spots and the name and e-mail address of the staff member who created the report.

I took a peek at "Lights, Camera, Action! …

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