Originally created 09/25/98

Magic software



Brandon Fallen clicked the mouse on each piece of the cartoon skeleton, connecting the thigh bone to the shin bone to the feet.

Once the 7-year-old had successfully built the skeleton, he did it again.

"They are fun," said the pupil at C.T. Walker Magnet School. He was talking about the new computers and Magic Schoolbus software at the Boys and Girls Club of Augusta's new computer resource center. Although the children have been playing on the computers for a couple of weeks, the center will have its official grand opening at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

As Brandon finished the skeleton again, he passed the mouse over to 11-year-old Sam Lord, a fifth grader at Copeland Elementary School.

"I like when the bus goes in Arnold's body," said Sam.

Arnold swallows the miniature bus with its passengers and it's off to exploring the inner workings of the human body, Ms. Frizzle-style. Ms. Frizzle is the main character in the PBS television series.

At six of the eight computers, a different Ms. Frizzle adventure is played out, while two older boys play solitaire. On a bench, several other children sit and wait for their turn.

Prior to getting the new computers, workstations and software, the Boys and Girls Club had only a couple of outdated computers.

"Before, there was nothing for them to do research on, or for relieving stress," said Linda Kyle, education director for the club.

Now, in addition to the Magic Schoolbus software, there are other educational programs the children can use. Plans call for eventually providing Internet access to the children.

The Boys and Girls Club, in conjunction with The Augusta Chronicle's new media department, is also offering a program in which older club members can receive academic credit and training on Web publishing. The Boys and Girls Club received about $35,000 in private donations and grants to fund the project, and Microsoft donated about $20,000 in software.

Boys and Girls Club officials feel that the computer center will give the children a hand up in their education. As techonology is such a vital part of today's society, access to computers and acquiring knowledge of them is very important, said Jerry Noland, the club's executive director. But many of the children at the club do not have access to computers at home and only limited exposure to them at school.