Virtual City For Kids Founded In Cyberspace


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Auckland, New Zealand - 26 Jul 2007: From 1 August young New Zealanders will have a safe virtual city, SciCity, in which they can explore, create and discover thanks to Otago Museum's Discovery World, IBM New Zealand, and ZeDDD Technology. A converging of 'science' and 'city', SciCity is a highly interactive website which allows visitors to explore 3D environments as a customisable avatar, explore educative environments, produce movies of their adventures and broadcast these discoveries for others to watch! SciCity explores topics vital to Information and Communications Technology with a game system that will engage young New Zealanders and allow exploration within 'slice of life' contexts while creating insight, understanding, and confidence with ICT.

"I am rapt that our talented team have been able to develop yet another product which is fun, challenging and educational all in one," says Helen Horner, Otago Museum Director of Programmes. "We hope that the children who join SciCity will be inspired and excited by what they find within."

The SciCity project will be run nationwide through schools and mirrors the community building and personal-broadcasting elements of popular websites such as 'YouTube' and 'MySpace' within a safe, New Zealand focused, educative, online environment. Children can safely use SciCity to broadcast and build online communities, free from the potential risks of existing online communities.

The project was made possible with the support of IBM New Zealand Ltd, ZeDDD Technology, and the Government's Digital Strategy Community Partnership Fund.

Debbie Noon, IBM New Zealand's Community Relations Manager, says technology skills are vital in an increasingly global world. "IBM has been a supporter of Otago Museum since 2004 and we have been impressed by the innovation they use to engage young New Zealanders in what are often perceived as 'boring' areas. The launch of SciCards in 2005 was the first step in generating excitement about science and technology and now SciCity takes it to a whole new level. The more young New Zealanders who develop an interest in science and technology, the greater our chances of encouraging them to explore the IT sector."

The website will be live from 1 August and can be found via www.otagomuseum.govt.nz

Note to reporters: The website will be available to the public on 1 August 2007, but Otago Museum is offering media a special invitation to preview SciCity at the official launch on Tuesday 31 July. If you are interested in attending please contact Annette Swale for details on 03 474 7474 ext 832 or via annette.swale@otagomuseum.govt.nz

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