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Children get chance to test products

Ten-year-old Tess Rubenstein stared intently into the computer monitor, clicking on a colorful image of a toucan. The animated digital bird began talking to the student, giving her the lowdown on life in a Central American rain forest.

Rubenstein was one of about 1,500 kids yesterday sampling the software and other computer products at the Children’s Interactive Expo at San Francisco’s Fort Mason.

With more than 200 exhibitors at the expo, kids, parents and teachers have plenty of opportunities to get wired with the latest in educational computer products. "The goal of the show is to provide kids with hands-on experience with computers so they can choose what they like," said Shannon Tobin, organizer of the event.

But the mass of children roaming through the pavilion won’t find any shoot-‘em-up computer games. All the products at the expo were screened to be "educationally sound, "Tobin said.

The trick is to create products that kids like that also teach them something

A long line was formed in front of the VRQuest™ exhibit, a program that lets kids take a journey into virtual reality.

VRQuest™, a product of -based VR Quest, is a multimedia Virtual Reality lab that allows students to create a virtual environment and solve global problems, such as destruction of the ozone layer, within that environment, said Warren Black, creator of VRQuest™.

Students strap on a Darth Vader-like headpiece for their virtual journey, ready to navigate their way through a problem-plagued digital world, where the turn off air conditioners and destroy aerosol cans in hopes of saving the ozone layer.

"It’s interesting, because I never used virtual reality before," said Rachel Fleitman, a 12-year-old from the Case Chinese-American School in San Francisco.

VRQuest™ has programs in Washington D.C. Public Schools Boys and Girls’ Clubs and schools in California. San Rafael’s Autodesk Inc. donated the high-powered software needed for VRQuest™, Compton said.

Excerpt from Marin Independent Journal, Business Section, B* Thursday, October 2, 1997

 

 




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