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Students tap into 3D culture tour

MUSEUMS are places where children can broaden their horizons in knowledge of nature, art, science, culture and history.

While children at big cities usually have easy access to museums, those living and studying at remote and rural areas enjoy less exposure to museums.

The good news is that "Museums Around You," a charity campaign featuring donations of 28 computers equipped with early learning educational software, by which kids can check collections from Nanjing Museum via a 3D virtual experience, was launched recently.

A total of 15 education institutions from uptown areas of Jiangsu Province and quake-hit Sichuan Province received the computers co-donated by Nanjing Museum and International Business Machines Corp.

To cater to the taste of students at elementary schools, the computer stations are housed in colorful furniture. And each computer's monitor is set at the same level of children's eyes. A bench is set up to enable two kids to sit together at the computer.

"We feel lucky to have two computers. They can be good instruments for the students to learn China's culture and history," says Tan Shufa, headmaster of Guanyu School in Mianzhu City, Sichuan Province.

"We don't have any museum around our school so I hope the virtual (computer) tour can give our 800 students knowledge of cultural relics," he says.

The kids visiting the virtual site are able to take a 3D tour that corresponds to major historical topics, stories and cultural relics from the museum.

To add more fun, the computers also include math and language software that will build basic skills in solving math problems and reading poems.

"I seldom go to museums since I have a lot of homework to do," says Yang Sirui, a grade-one student from Haiying Elementary School in Nanjing, capital city of Jiangsu Province. Yang was invited to test the computer before the donation. "I like the computer. It is simple to use and it looks like a lovely toy.''

The charity campaign is a part of IBM's KidSmart Early Learning Program, which was introduced to China in 2001. So far, more than 3,000 such computers had been donated to educational institutions, communities and museums across the country.

Each one cost around 20,000 yuan (US$2,926), but they are not available on the market.

All are designed only for charity usage, according to Victor Guo, executive of IBM Corp community relations.

"The campaign is highlighted by a museum theme to spread knowledge about cultural relics and history," Guo says.

"It is to provide a new learning culture, help develop kids' positive attitudes to learning and prepare them for their lives in a knowledge-based society.''

Targeting kids from three to six years old, the KidSmart Program will be launched at 30 autonomous prefectures in China before 2011.

"It is a platform to promote Chinese traditional culture, nature, science and technology among the younger generation in rural areas,'' says Wu Xiaolin, vice director of Bureau of Cultural Relics in Jiangsu Province.


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