- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 21, 2004

‘Cyberchase,” a cartoon mystery series, airs daily on PBS Kids Go and features the voices of Christopher Lloyd and Gilbert Gottfried while making a strong, fun case for the importance of learning about numbers.

The show features three young heroes who have been using the powers of math and problem-solving to thwart the plans of the villain Hacker.

The Web site works closely with the cartoon’s themes and episodes as well as providing a wealth of online conundrums and entertainment for the show’s fans.

Cyberchase Online

Site address: https://pbskids.org/cyberchase/index.html

Creator: The 42-year-old public broadcasting station 13/WNET New York developed and maintains the popular cyber-destination.

Creator quotable: “We created this site for an Internet-savvy generation as a companion to the ‘Cyberchase’ television series — a convergence project where kids could watch the show, jump online, join the Cybersquad and go on their own virtual adventures corresponding to that day’s episode,” says David Hirmes, Web producer for “Cyberchase.”

“The reaction from the kids is remarkable; on average, they spend nearly an hour on the site. There’s a powerful synergy between the TV show and the Web site. Kids have a much deeper experience through the online games and activities.”

Word from the Webwise: Visitors join 11-year-old gadget lover Matt, 9-year-old wordsmith Inez, 11-year-old smarty-pants Jackie and a klutzy bird named Digit as they explore colorful, cartoony pages filled with characters and activities to stimulate the noggin.

The 6- to 12-year-old crowd first should stop by the section Meet the Cybersquad for short biographies on 11 of the main characters. Many offer multiple coloring pages that can be printed out.

A logical next stop is Web Adventures, which features a quartet of slightly animated “webisodes” exploring the origins of the Cyberchase universe. Visitors simply click on an arrow to move through multiple splash pages that concentrate on the history of the relationship between Hacker, Digit and Dr. Marbles.

For those seeking to show off some creative abilities, a stop by Cyberchase Club allows them to send, via e-mail, an original mystery story or, via postal mail, a piece of artwork that may be posted on the site. Additionally, within the club, they can listen to the theme song and download trading cards, screen savers and even a working calculator.

The majority of the site is devoted to the massive Games Central section, which boasts 40 mainly mathematically based challenges to teach algebra, geometry, fractions, measurement and probability.

They range from Space Coupe; to Rescue, in which a player controls a flying vehicle to retrieve virus pods by typing in coordinates using positive and negative numbers; to Bugs in the System, in which a player must drag color-specific insects into the correct area of a color-coded bar graph.

Beginning in November, visitors will be able to take part in the Quest, a replayable Web game in which players go on an adventure throughout cyberspace and customize their own area, all while developing money-management skills to help defeat the bad guys.

Ease of use: The site is compatible with all computers and operating systems. Many of the games require the Flash plug-in, and to view the streaming video segments (in Today’s Stuff) requires the Real Player plug-in.

Don’t miss: Each day, the front page presents a short video of one of the two live actors who participate at the beginning of each episode, Bianca or Harry, as they accomplish a project using mathematics. The one I watched found Bianca trying to build a doghouse by using her measurement and fraction abilities to complete the roof with multiple-shaped pieces of wood.

Family activity: A stop by the Cyberchase Club also will reveal a Make It area that provides complete directions and blueprints for creating 10 items, including Chocoberry Chillers, a pencil holder, ruler, Mother’s Day card and sculpting dough.

Cyber-sitter synopsis: A great site, which when combined with the “Cyberchase” show, cleverly gives children a daily chance to hone skills they can use the rest of their lives.

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’s 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 (jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com).

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