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Multimedia Series on Science, Math Premieres

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The video component of a mixed-media project in science and mathematics education for 8-to-12-year-olds that combines a television adventure series with computer software and print curriculum materials premiered last week on public television stations across the country.

"The Voyage of the Mimi," as the program is called, is being hailed by the U.S. Education Department, which put up $2.65 million to fund its development.

The 26-part instructional series was developed by the Bank Street College of Education in New York under an Education Department contract that Frank B. Withrow, director of the department's division of technology resource assessment and development, called "a very good marriage."

"About four years ago, the department was concerned about the problem in science and math education," Mr. Withrow said. "We had jointly funded '3-2-1 Contact' [a science series developed by the Children's Television Workshop] ... and 'The Voyage of the Mimi' was the next move in beginning to have more direct classroom involvement in science and math education."

Development of "The Voyage of the Mimi" began in the fall of 1981. The project, which was tested in pilot schools last year, includes a 13-segment dramatic adventure series, 13 documentary segments, and accompanying print and computer instructional materials published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Janice Trebi Richards, vice president of division marketing for Holt, Rinehart and Winston, estimated that the publishing firm has spent about $1 million to publish and market the computer and print curriculum package.

Research at Sea

The adventure episodes follow the sea voyage of two young marine scientists, their three teen-age assistants, the captain of the vessel Mimi, and the captain's 13-year-old grandson, as they track and study humpback whales off the coast of Maine. Each 15-minute segment is followed by a documentary episode of the same length that examines in a real-life scientific setting the topics touched on in the adventure episode.

The project has seven components: the television series, a student's guide, a teacher's guide, and four "learning modules." Each of the modules includes computer software for games and excercises, a workbook for students, and a teacher's guide. One module even has a piece of hardware that turns an Apple IIe computer into "The Bank Street Laboratory" with sensors to measure temperature, light, and sound, and the capability to transform data into a variety of graphs on the screen.

Module topics include "Maps and Navigation," "Whales and their Environment," "Ecosystems," and "Introduction to Computing."

Teaches 'Process of Science'

Peggy Charren, the president of Action for Children's Television, commented that the series "really seems to capture the process of science, and that is extraordinarily difficult. Part of the lesson is supposed to be the process, which is hard if you can't see it. That's the kind of thing TV can do like no other medium."

The series can be integrated into the curriculum in several ways depending on the needs and resources of the school, according to a spokesman for Bank Street College.

The full package includes a video cassette of the series, teacher and student guides, and the computer and print materials accompanying the four modules, for a total cost of about $1,000 for a class of 25. A copy of the student series guide costs $6.95.

Home and Classroom Viewing

Public television stations are broadcasting the series for both home and classroom viewing. The first half-hour episode for home viewing was shown Sept. 10 and is currently being broadcast daily. But the producers caution that local dates and times may vary and should be checked.

The series for home viewing is to be rebroadcast, starting on Sept. 27, and will be shown again in 1985.

For in-school use, the broadcasts are separated into two 15-minute segments, with one adventure episode broadcast twice a day on Tuesdays and the companion documentary segment shown twice a day on the following Thursdays. The series began this week (Sept. 18) and will be rebroadcast on Jan. 8, 1985.

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