September 17, 2008
Purdue students create Web site to encourage kids to stay in schoolWEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -
A group of Purdue University students has created an interactive Web site they hope will help students see the benefits of continuing their education.
Ronald Glotzbach, an assistant professor of computer graphics technology, and several of his students have developed a Web site available at http://www.sticktoschool.com . The site is geared toward high school students who may be debating whether or not to earn their diplomas or pursue a college degree.
"Not having a high school diploma can put you at a severe disadvantage in terms of finding a good job or finding a career," he said. "Our goal with this Web site is to create something that students will enjoy using and, at the same time, will give them good, valuable information that will inspire them."
Glotzbach and his students, led by Laura Kellogg, a graduate student in computer graphics technology, designed and developed the content and graphics for the site and performed research on the featured careers.
They also developed two interactive games for the site: "Welcome to Opus City" and "Stick to School: The Game."
Kellen Maicher, assistant professor of computer graphics technology, led the development of "Opus City", which allows the player to travel around a fictional city full of challenges and job choices. The goal is to keep a character called "the Benefactor" happy by making wise decisions. "Stick to School" is designed like a board game, where players first decide whether to stay in school or drop out, then take turns moving their car around the board, encountering various real-life scenarios based on their choice. The player with the most money at the end wins.
The Web site focuses on the six basic types of jobs most people choose based on their personality type: realistic (working with animals, tools or machines); investigative (scientific or math-based jobs); artistic (dancer, actor, musician); social (jobs helping people, such as teachers or counselors); enterprising (sales, real estate agent, lawyer); or conventional (mail carrier, bookkeeper, secretary, bank teller).
Web site users can click on each job type and find out what kind of jobs someone with those interests might be able to pursue in addition to what kind of education each job within that category requires and a typical salary. For instance, by clicking on the "investigative" job heading, a user could choose the "hospital" category, then get information on jobs that require a high school education and jobs that require a four-year degree or more.
"The design is meant to inspire students and to let them know that no matter what their interests or talents, there is a career that is right for them, and the more education you have, the more options there are available to you," Glotzbach said.
Other features of the Web site include an e-mentor section, in which students can ask questions about education or careers that will be answered by professionals at 20/20 Inner Vision Inc., the nonprofit organization that spearheaded the Web site's creation; inspirational stories from those whose lives have been changed by pursuing educational goals; dropout statistics; and a lessons section where teachers and counselors can download educational videos to show students.
Future plans for the site include videos of workers in a variety of trades who will talk about the benefits of their career and what kind of education it takes to pursue the path they chose.
Glotzbach said the idea for the Web site came from Craig MacFarlane, an inspirational speaker and the president of 20/20 InnerVision Inc., a Zionsville, Ind., nonprofit foundation dedicated to improving the U.S. high school graduation rate.
MacFarlane was blinded after an accident when he was 2 years old and went on to compete in a variety of sports, including wrestling, skiing, waterskiing, golf and track, winning more than 100 gold medals. He says his success comes from a technique called muscle memory, in which he uses his "inner vision" to train his other senses to compensate for his lack of sight. MacFarlane studied law at Carlton University and earned a stockbroker's license.
He said he has been concerned about the high dropout rate in many communities and created 20/20 Inner Vision to help improve students' self-esteem, study and life skills, and remove barriers that prevent them from getting an education.
"I've talked to more than 2,500 schools over the past 20 years about the importance of education and not giving up on your dreams," MacFarlane said. "This is something I am passionate about, and I want to use my story to help inspire others. There have been so many unsung heroes in my life that helped me, and I want to do the same thing for others."
He said he chose Purdue because he had heard about the work of the College of Technology's computer graphics technology department.
"Creating this Web site is a great way to inspire young people that may ordinarily slip through the cracks and give them hope that anything is possible," MacFarlane said.
Writer: Kim Medaris, (765) 494-6998, email@example.com
Sources: Ronald Glotzbach, (765) 496-2953, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kellen Maicher, (765) 496-1831, email@example.com
Craig MacFarlane, (352) 430-5000, firstname.lastname@example.org
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; email@example.com
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