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Next fall, elementary and middle school students may no longer have to trek to the library to do research projects. Instead, they may be able to access a huge on-line library by simply typing questions into a computer.

Tandem Computers Inc. of Cupertino, Calif., and Infonautics Corporation of Wayne, Pa., recently joined forces to create what they call "the world's most extensive electronic library for children.''

The new multi-million-dollar Homework Helper will allow K-8 students to access a wide range of publications, including articles from the Los Angeles Times, CNN television transcripts, and over 700 major literary works.

A student, for example, could type in the question "Who said Et tu, Brute?'' and the Homework Helper would provide the full text of "Julius Caesar,'' an encyclopedia article, and references for newspaper and magazine articles.

The initial launch will be on the Prodigy service. Prices are not available, but the goal is to keep the monthly home-use subscription cost less than the add-on cost for the cable premium channel. The school price will be based on the number of simultaneous users.

For more information, write Patricia Kennedy, director of special projects, Infonautics Corporation, 435 Devon Park Dr., Wayne, Pa. 19087.


In response to reports that the nation's brightest students, especially minority students, are less inclined to seek careers in science, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has created a series of publications designed to "bring the excitement of biological revolution directly to students.''

Since 1987, the institute has been providing the handsomely produced publications and classroom sets free to teachers around the world. "Blood: Bearer of Life and Death'' is the latest in the series, which includes "From Egg to Adult'' and "Blazing a Genetic Trail.''

More information is available from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 4000 Jones Bridge Rd., Chevy Chase, Md. 20815-6789.


The Arizona-based publisher Oryx Press is offering a new literature-based geographical series for teachers and school-library media specialists.

The seven volumes of "Exploring the United States Through Literature'' provide annotated bibliographies of print and nonprint material for every state. Each volume focuses on a specific geographic region. All listed items include recommended age groups and classroom activities as well as the publisher's address.

The volumes cost $24.95 each, plus 10 percent per book for shipping. For more information, call (800) 279-6799.

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