Mary Ann Evans, PWSE, (515) 294-5883
Barb Lograsso, PWSE, (515) 294-4317
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- Ever wonder how an electric motor works? Ever think you could build one? Now you can, thanks to a Web site called "Funtivities" (http://www.Funtivities.com), sponsored by Iowa State University's Program for Women in Science and Engineering (PWSE).

Funtivities is a place to explore the fun and exciting mysteries of math and science. It's a Web site for children, educators, child care providers and just about anyone else. The site gets kids "turned on" to science and math by showing them math and science are fun, and that they can be successful at it.

Youngsters engage in learn-by-doing activities that promote the acquisition of math skills and scientific knowledge. Funtivities can be used for school activities, after school projects, summer camps, day care centers or as an activity parents can do with their children. Thousands of students already have taken part in Funtivities projects, according to Barbara Lograsso, assistant director of PWSE.

"Providing students with hands-on opportunities helps build their confidence in math and science," Lograsso said. "When I work with these students, I'm so impressed at how creative they are with the Funtivities materials."

The site features an activity of the month, such as the motor building exercise, as well as access to previous experiments. Materials and directions are laid out step-by-step.

The Funtivities are easy to do on your own, but those who want to lead a group have access to special instructions through the Leader/Helper Guide. There also is advice for applying the lessons equally with male and female students. The Funtivities site lets learners create their own Funtivities kit as well as order materials for existing kits.

The Web site also features ideas for using Funtivities, information about famous scientists and engineers, a calendar of local science-related events and links to other sites.

The Program for Women in Science and Engineering started Funtivities four years ago in partnership with the Moingona Girl Scout Council and the Iowa 4-H Youth Development Program as a means to bring exciting, hands-on math and science activities to young people, particularly girls.

"It's lively, colorful and has a lot of eye-catching features, yet the site also has the practical tips and information necessary to generate a successful learning experience," said Mary Ann Evans, director of PWSE.

The project has been funded primarily through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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