A presidential panel and two national newspaper associations are teaming up to inform teachers and students about the Year 2000 computer glitch.
The President’s Council on Year 2000 Conversion paid $250,000 to develop a 16-page supplement for students, a 24-page resource guide for teachers, and five feature supplements for newspapers on the issue.
The Y2K Youth Education Program “tool kit” is available free through the council’s hot line at (888) USA-4Y2K, and can be downloaded from the Internet at www.y2K.gov/youth.
The “Y2K” problem is caused by the widespread failure of computer programmers over many years to write software that uses four digits to indicate the year in date fields. If preventive measures aren’t taken to ensure computers can tell the difference between 1900 and 2000, the bug could disrupt computer operations in less than 100 days.
Last week, the National Newspaper Association and the Newspaper Association of America began sending samples of the materials to more than 5,000 daily, weekly, and community newspapers, along with a CD-rom containing ready-to-print electronic files of all the materials.
The papers may publish and distribute the student and teacher supplements as part of their local Newspapers in Education program, which encourages teachers to use newspapers in classrooms.
John A. Koskinen, the chairman of the council, said the effort would encourage the public to take precautions for the “millennium bug” without inducing panic.
“Our basic premise has been, if people have hard information about the problem, they’ll respond appropriately,” he said at a press briefing here last week.
Topics for Teachers
One lesson plan points out that “some schools are just starting to deal with the Y2K conversion process,” and it suggests that the teachers invite administrators to class to discuss their schools’ preparedness.