The VIP Program: A Virtual Interactive Partnership for kids to engage in Science

J.Paul Robinson and Steven Dunlop

We are currently developing an Internet - WEB based program for kids to ask questions, as well as propose experiments and hypotheses. These materials will be reviewed and evaluated by practicing scientists. The program will be designed to accommodate all levels of participation from elementary, junior high to senior high school. It will dovetail with an existing NSF funded material development program (the BioScope Initiative - This program will seek to create a strong link between scientists and students. Students will submit questions which will be evaluated by an editorial team who will pose the question to an appropriate scientist chosen based upon expertise. The team will ensure the material is rapidly received from the expert and will edit and place the material onto the web in an orderly manner. The editorial team will manage material from kids to scientists and back. The end result will be a huge comprehensive searchable database, the "Altavista", and "Encarta" combined. It will be publicly available, free, accurate, and up to date. We are currently developing such a program that will become an important source of accurate, verified, relevant material to encourage the love of science and accuracy of content which is frequently lacking on WEB-based material. In addition, students will pose experiments which will be evaluated by scientists. Students will receive feedback from the scientists (via the editorial team) and a database of such experiments will be maintained for students reference. At all times, web links to reference material will always be included. VIP is designed to be an quality controlled interactive forum for kids.

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