- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 1, 2002

It never hurts to remind a child caught up in the era of immediate multimedia gratification that he actually lives on a planet filled with interesting species and delicate ecosystems that rely on his help to survive.

Just one of the many sites providing information on Earth and the importance of protecting its resources comes in the form of immediate gratification (depending on modem speed), packed full of family friendly resources and activities.

EEK! Environmental Education for Kids

Site address: www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/caer/ce/eek/index.htm

Creator:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), a state agency, produces the site from its central office in Madison.

Creator quotable:

"We created this site to provide kids, parents and teachers with up-to-date information on natural resources. We want EEK! to be a place where a kid can go for homework help when writing a report, find information on careers in natural resources, and learn more about the natural world. And, when they're done surfing, we want kids to take the information they learn on EEK! and go outside and explore," says Carrie Morgan, environmental education specialist and EEK! manager.

Word from the Webwise:

Developed in 1997 as an outreach program that was more economically feasible than a print publication, this cybermagazine does an excellent job ensnaring the fourth-grade to eighth-grade crowd by offering colorful visuals, rollover images and a diverse enough amount of facts and images to appeal to just about any child of nature.

The purple opening page pops off the screen, featuring the site's clever acronym caught in a spider web with a curious arachnid looking on. The primary sections of Nature Notes, Our Earth, Cool Stuff, Get a Job and the Riddler surround the web, and a highlighted issue box sits in the upper right-hand corner. As of this review, the box held a link to a quick look at the merits of a compass.

Each section boasts an abundance of subtopics; for example, Nature Notes leads to 13 places to learn. Children can get a lesson on the black bear complete with pictures, images of his tracks and some words on his habits; read about Wisconsin's trees and plants; hone skills to identify frogs, bugs and trees; and learn why leaves change color.

Other sections offer the same presentation of easy-to-understand text, as all interior pages use a cartoony font and list numerous interesting topics.

Just some of the information waiting to be discovered among the sections includes news on a chronic wasting disease in deer and global warming under Our Earth, some big fish stories that should appeal to anglers and instructions on how to make natural dyes under Cool Stuff, the work of a wildlife biologist and a quiz under Get a Job, and a chance to e-mail an answer to a perplexing question in the Riddler.

Finally, a section called Teacher Pages can be accessed from the front page to give educators and parents numerous links and hands-on activities to enjoy with inquisitive youngsters.

Ease of use:

The site works efficiently using the primary browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer 4 and above, Netscape Navigator 3 and above, and functions fine with Lynx and Web TV. Visitors will need Adobe Acrobat, Windows Media Video viewer and the Macromedia Flash plug-in for the best experience.

Don't miss:

Wolf enthusiasts will love the aerial photos taken by the Department of Natural Resources while tracking the radio-collar-wearing animals. Found under Nature Notes, five images present the hidden world of these magnificent creatures as they roam northern Wisconsin and into Minnesota as they sleep, play and show their pack mentality. Visitors also will find in this area how the biologists track the wolves and plenty of statistics.

Family activity:

It is hoped that EEK! will coax children outside when they're done surfing. The whole clan can simply go on an outdoor scavenger hunt, looking for signs of nature and seasonal changes; read up on ice fishing or fly fishing and give it a try; go searching for animal tracks to identify; or try some of the readers' favorite campfire recipes. The site also has rainy-day activities under Cool Stuff, such as fall leaf printing on paper, building an underwater scope, recycling for the birds and making a neat ice luminary candle.

Cybersitter synopsis:

Although EEK! concentrates on many species seen in the Wisconsin region, it still presents lots of fun for animal lovers around the world and plenty of good advice for taking care of the planet. Children will enjoy the photographs and digging deeper into the fact-filled sections.

Overall grade: A

Remember: The information on the Internet is constantly changing. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it is accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician.

Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message ([email protected]).



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