The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 6, 1997 · Page 6
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 6

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Salina, Kansas
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Monday, October 6, 1997
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Page 6
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AH MONDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1997 NATION THE SALINA JOURNAL The Associated Press Victor Sparrow, who teaches acoustics at Penn State, looks forward to the new Internet to provide the needed space to handle better animation and to speed communication. Internet 2: The Sequel Universities at work on faster Internet for academia By ANICK JESDANUN The Associated Press WASHINGTON — Victor Sparrow makes sound waves dance on a computer screen to teach acoustics engineering to his Pennsylvania State University students, but he can't splash his fancy images beyond his office. Today's congested and outdated Internet also gives Sparrow trouble bringing in teaching tools developed by his peers at other campuses. So like other researchers eager to find better ways to share their knowledge, he looks forward to Internet 2, a faster computer network that 112 universities are working on. Internet 2's enhanced voice, video and data capabilities are being unveiled at a demonstration this week in Washington. . The problems stem largely from the very nature of the Internet and its growing commercial popularity. Computer files travel across the Internet as equals. A video clip needed in a classroom commands the same attention as an electronic message likely to languish in the recipient's mailbox for hours or days. When Internet use was limited primarily to government and academia, the network had plenty of capacity to go around. Handling information that way was fine. These days, with more business and residential users connected, researchers face delays that affect their work. "Universities which were at the heart of the original Internet now are finding themselves competing for space on this network," said David Katz, global education industry manager at 3Com Corp., a Santa Clara, Calif., company helping schools develop Internet 2. The Internet restricts Sparrow's demonstrations of wave properties to simple computer drawings akin to stick figures. Connections are not good enough to produce complex teaching aides without unpredictable delays, Sparrow said. Internet 2 seeks to fix that by improving computer connections among and within campuses and by developing ways to sort and prioritize information to allow real-time video presentations to cruise past less-urgent e-mail on the information superhighway. The ultimate goal is to create a network that researchers could rely on to obtain the high- volume computer files they need when they need them. Professors could effectively reserve network capacity. Each participating university has committed at least $2.5 million over five years to upgrade their equipment. The National Science Foundation is financing much of the major intercampus wiring. About two dozen schools are to be linked by year's end. Eventually, concepts developed by Internet 2 could become commercially viable, at which point universities would begin working on a successor, said J. Gary Augustson, a computer director at Penn State and chairman of the Internet 2 steering committee. "If we're successful," Augustson said, "Internet 2 will be cluttered, and we'll probably go to Internet 3." VTOYS With direction, action figures can be positive influence, expert says Encourage children to use imaginations with such toys, she says By RENE STOVSKY St. Louis Post-Dispatch Checked out the latest action figures on toy store shelves? Judy Kulczycki has. And she doesn't like what she sees — Star Wars characters, Jurassic Park's Lost World creatures, X-Men, Power Rangers, multiple variations of Spiderman and Batman. Topping her current list of undesirables: Kenner's Assault Gauntlet Batman, who comes armed with special "spike strike missile gloves." It's not that Kulczycki, an early childhood education specialist at the Child Day Care Association, is against superhero play. She isn't. What appalls her is the pervasiveness of "entertainment-based, often violent" toys in children's culture of the '90s. "Children have always been fascinated with larger-than-life characters who can do magical things," she said. "Through dramatic play with such figures, they explore important issues like power, control, good and evil." The problem, she said, is that children — and their parents — have lost control of such play. When children's television broadcasting was deregulated in 1984, it allowed TV shows based on toys to be aired. And that ultimately changed the nature of play. "Within a year, nine of the 10 best-selling toys had TV programs — Superman, The Incredible Hulk and so on," Kulczycki said. "And by the late 1980s, 80 percent of children's programming on commercial networks was being produced by toy companies." The result? Children were no longer content to play imaginatively with action figures — using building materials to make rockets or castles for them, for example, or creating mini-dramas to play act with pals about them. "Even if parents turn off the television, the commercialism is hard to escape," Kulczycki said. "Kids hear about products from other kids, see tie-ins about them on the back of cereal boxes and buy Halloween costumes based on the characters." So what are parents and teachers to do? Basically, use children's fascination with action figures to support and provoke imaginative play. One of Kulczycki's favorite examples of how to handle superhero play positively occurred re- cently in a preschool class at The College School in Webster Groves, Mo., when a group of children became obsessed with pirates attd sword-fighting. Teachers turned the dramatic play area into a ship's galley, where pirates could cook. They read pirate books and sang pirate songs. 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