The University Record, October 21, 1998

Destination Discovery connects kids, teachers, U-M resources

By Nancy Ross-Flanigan
News and Information Services

Where do you want to go today? To drop in on a dinosaur or watch a planetarium show? To visit a Native American pow-wow? Maybe you’d like to consult weather experts about today’s temperature in Tasmania, pick a computer scientist’s brain, learn some fun facts about fungi or find out how mummies are made.

All are possible through University of Michigan programs, activities, Web sites and other resources, but tracking down these treasures has sometimes been a challenge for kids, parents and teachers. A new Web site, Destination Discovery (www.outreach.umich.edu/ameritech/discovery), now makes it easy and fun to find out what the University has to offer. Visitors can explore the site in various ways---by scrolling through alphabetical listings of all the resources included in the site; by checking a list of U-M departments, units and affiliates to see what each one offers; or by wandering along “Paths of Discovery” organized by topic, such as “Camps/Clubs/Conferences/Institutes,” “Sports and Athletics,” “Animals/Space/Science/Math” or “Next Step” (colleges, universities, careers and mentoring programs).

Along the way, users will discover guides to doing library research; ideas for real and virtual field trips; and information on computer camps, fitness programs, language institutes, environmental workshops, math mini-courses, science clubs and more. Some programs and Web sites include lesson plans for teachers. Others connect faculty experts with students, either through classroom visits or through the Internet.

“These tend to be ‘labor-of-love’ programs, where people have enthusiasm for what they’re doing and want to share it,” says Nat Bulkley, a project associate in the Academic Outreach program who helped develop the site.

Destination Discovery was tested on a group of about 25 teachers last spring. “The comment we kept hearing was, ‘I always knew that the University of Michigan had all this stuff, but I never knew how to find it,’” Bulkley says.

One of those teachers was Richard L. King, a middle school teacher who now has the site bookmarked on all the computers in his classroom. “The students use it as a jump point when they’re working on class reports or individual assignments on a theme or topic,” says King, who teaches computer and technology education at Scarlett Middle School. The site also makes it easy for kids to find resources related to their personal interests and hobbies, he says, “and it reflects the diversity of the real world---something many Web sites fail to do.”

Another plus, especially in class periods that never seem quite long enough, is that the site is attractively designed, but not heavy on graphics and animated images that make users wait . . . and wait . . . and wait . . . while pictures slowly creep onto the screen, King adds.

Destination Discovery is a joint project of Academic Outreach and the University Libraries and is sponsored by an Ameritech Foundation grant.


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