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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the ThinkQuest Competition has involved more than 25,000 children since its inception in 1996. Kids from 9 to 19 form teams and create educational Web sites meeting strict criteria. A team coach must be a school district employee, but parents can serve as assistant coaches. Home-schooled kids may also participate. Be sure to follow the rules very carefully. A successful team will have read the evaluation criteria thoroughly and will have studied and learned from past winning Web sites.
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What's it about?
The ThinkQuest competition, sponsored by the Oracle Education Foundation, challenges kids to create educational Web sites that are accurate, engaging, graphically exciting, and fun. Participants form teams of at least three and up to six, who work under the advice of a coach and sometimes, an assistant coach. Typically, a ThinkQuest team is made up of kids with complementary skills. Leadership is necessary too, as teams must quickly learn all about how to schedule work on the project, resolve differences, and how to collaborate with kids from often disparate geographic and cultural backgrounds. The kids' Web sites are evaluated by professional educators and winners get to travel to a prestigious awards event. All qualified entries, whether they are winners or not, are added to the ThinkQuest Library, a popular online resource used by children, teens, and adults.
Is it any good?
This site is an all-around winner. Participants get the chance to exercise creativity, conduct research on a topic that interests them, learn new skills, and express themselves both verbally and visually. Plus, there's the invaluable experience of working collaboratively with a team. For visitors, it's interesting to see how the projects have gotten more sophisticated over the past 10+ years -- sort of an Internet time machine. And, with topics ranging from martial arts to Freud, the library has something for every surfer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Web site design and the collaborative process. How do you and your fellow team members decide on what features the site should have? How do you divide the work? How do you make the site user-friendly and engaging? And ultimately, what is the goal or mission of the site?
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