As many educators can attest, the Internet can be a wild and woolly place to take school-children on electronic field trips.
So-called "adult" chat sessions coexist on the global smorgasbord of computer networks with the sort of higher-minded fare that proponents of classroom access to the information highway envision funneling into classrooms nationwide.
And, despite efforts to incorporate access to the Internet into the precollegiate curriculum, much of the information it contains is simply not aimed at the average elementary or middle school child.
Enter Cyberkids, an on-line magazine whose publishers claim is the first electronic publication aimed specifically at a young audience. Produced by and for children between the ages of 7 and 15, the magazine is published by Mountain Lake Software Inc. of San Francisco.
"This is something very wholesome, educational, and informative," said Allen Powers, Mountain Lake's marketing director. "It's one of a kind."
Cyberkids is an offshoot of a writing contest the company sponsored to introduce its "Story Artist Kit," a product that gives children electronic typefaces and other tools to write illustrated compositions on the computer.
"We were so impressed with the results of the contest that we wanted to find a way to do this on a regular basis," said Julie Richer, a former teacher who is a co-founder of the company. "So we launched Cyberkids."
The first issue features some of the award-winning stories from the contest. A second issue of the bimonthly magazine is expected to be available in March.
The premier issue also features an article on Egyptian hieroglyphics that teachers could use in their classes.
As an incentive to potential readers--and to help gauge readership--Mountain Lake allows users to download some electronic typefaces, or fonts, that it produces.
Mr. Powers said the magazine is available free on the Internet's World Wide Web, a graphical computer interface.
And while he acknowledged that access to the Internet is far from commonplace in most classrooms, he added that "a lot of schools are very technologically advanced."
Teachers and students can also read the magazine from their home computers, he said.
Students and educators with access to the World Wide Web can submit articles to Cyberkids at http://www.mtlake.com/cyberkids. Articles may also be submitted by electronic mail to [email protected], or to Cyberkids, 298 Fourth Ave., Suite 401, San Francisco, Calif. 94118.