Local students hit the web

Cyber Mummy project is a multimedia success for Urbana schools

By Kathy Mesich

      Urbana schools are jumping into the age of technology while exploring what life was like in the past. Local students are working on several projects involving the Internet, including Cyber Mummy.
      Cyber Mummy is a website that centers around a mummy at the University of Illinois' World Heritage Museum. With the site, students learn about ancient civilization while also experimenting with the World Wide Web.
      Most of the information on the Cyber Mummy site is written by students. Urbana High School's ancient civilization class has been collaborating with some Urbana middle schools in putting the site together, and it's still a work in progress.
      Sixth-grader Courtney Tamimie has grown very familiar with computers using the one in her home for the last three years. This is the first year Courtney has used the Cyber Mummy program, and she really enjoys being able to use computers at school.
      "After going to the World Heritage Museum and seeing the real mummy, we went to the web site and learned more about it," Courtney said. "It was neat seeing the mummy on the computer."
      Courtney, even at her young age, knows more about computers than her mother.
      "I went with my mom to her computer class a couple of times, and I knew most of the stuff they were trying to teach them already," Courtney said.
      Courtney is also working on her own website with another student. Their topic is ancient Egypt. She does most of the typing while her partner gets relevant pictures.
      Urbana Middle School computer teacher, Pat VanWallegen, supervises the students working on Cyber Mummy. She said the middle school plans on keeping up with technology and doing more with computers in the future.
      Jim Peterson, director of technology at Urbana schools, believes Cyber Mummy has been a success. The project began last summer after Peterson and other area teachers went to a workshop at NCSA, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Peterson decided that trying out new technology in Urbana schools would be a good idea and decided to focus the project around the study of a mummy.
      "Cyber Mummy allows students to use the Internet to its fullest capacity and makes learning very interesting for the students," said Peterson.
      Urbana High School art teacher Susan Gleason currently uses Cyber Mummy with her students and thinks it's a great concept.
      "I am thrilled with Cyber Mummy," Gleason said. "It gives kids the experience of making a site on the web, and they love it. It is a really neat way to learn."
      Gleason is unsure if students will be working on Cyber Mummy next semester, but they will be doing something web-related.
      Other websites Urbana students are working on in the classroom include the "Student Cyber Art Gallery" and the "Museum in the Classroom".