The University Record, March 18, 1997

Poison prevention Web site aimed at children

photo, Mitchell McBrairty, age 6, plays a real-world version of the 'find the poison' game featured on the Internet Public Library poison prevention Web site.
News and Information Services

There's a little brown dog named "Icky" on the Internet who wants to help your child learn about yucky stuff called poison. For example, what is a poison? Who gets hurt by poisons? How do poisons hurt you? And what kinds of poison can you find in your house?

Icky's interactive Web site opened to the general public on the U-M's Internet Public Library on March 17---just in time for Poison Prevention Week (March 16-22). The educational Web site was designed for children ages 4-7, although there is a section containing poison prevention information for adults.

The U-M students who conceived and helped create the site hope it will prevent some of the two million poisoning-related deaths and injuries reported each year in children under the age of seven.

The Web site is the result of a community service project involving graduate students from the College of Pharmacy, the School of Education, the School of Information, and staff from the Information Technology Division (ITD).

The idea came from pharmacy students Jill Burkiewicz and Shamita Gupta who, along with others, had developed poison-related educational activities and games for presentations at local elementary schools. "We could only visit a few classes each year," Burkiewicz says. "We knew we could reach more children on the Web, but didn't know how to design a Web site that would be appropriate for this age group."

The pharmacy students turned to instructional technology experts in ITD for design advice and assistance. ITD staffers arranged for input from School of Education graduate students, working under the direction of Carl F. Berger, professor of education. Led by Shannon Cronin, a graduate student in the School of Information, Berger's class researched, designed and created the first version of the Web site, which was later completed by ITD instructional technology staff.

Before the public unveiling this week, the students gave demonstrations of the Web site at meetings of the Michigan Pharmacists' Association and the American Pharmaceutical Association.

"The pharmacists really liked the idea of gearing the information specifically for kids, because there's very little material out there designed for children," Burkiewicz says. "We hope to convince pharmacists to incorporate the site into their own community poison prevention activities."

Technical support and design expertise for the Web site was provided by Thomas Knox, ITD instructional software developer. Financial support was supplied by the Academic Outreach Program. The School of Information's Internet Public Library (IPL) agreed to host the project so it would be available to the widest possible audience.

Faculty advisers for the project were Duane M. Kirking, associate professor of pharmacy administration, and Berger. Mary E. Shue, clinical instructor at the College of Pharmacy, will maintain and update the site.

The Poison Prevention Web site is http://www.ipl.org/youth/poisonsafe/.