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Professor's Web site goes international

February 01, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MONT ALTO, Pa. - A Web site created by a Penn State Mont Alto professor and her students to teach the arts to elementary and middle school students has won accolades in Great Britain.

Nancy Funk, 62, professor of arts and theater, spent nine months writing the text for the Web site she named TAPPS for theater, architecture, painting and sculpture.

The program uses games and puzzles to teach creativity, problem-solving and appreciation of the environment, Funk said.

TAPPS was honored by Schoolzone, an Internet education service based in England. The company, which evaluates digital learning resources for grades kindergarten through 12, gave the Web site a five-star, "Highly Recommended Rating" for educational usefulness.

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About 300 British teachers evaluated Funk's program by using it for 10 weeks in their classrooms, then wrote an extensive detailed report on its educational value.

A company in California wanted to transfer the Web site to a CD and send it to subscribers in Australia and the United Kingdom. Funk agreed and followed up by registering the TAPPS Web site in the United Kingdom, as well as with Yahoo! and Nickelodeon.

Funk received a $2,400 grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research to have the site designed. Five of her students helped to post the site online and make it functional for audiences across the world.

The idea for the Web site came to Funk during her regular lectures at Fairview Avenue Elementary School in Waynesboro, Pa., on the five creative arts subjects. She saw the Internet as the best way to reach the greatest number of people.

TAPPS is being used in the United Kingdom's 30,000 schools and has 12,000 subscribers in Australia, Funk said. She said she doesn't know how many people in the United States are using it.

Funk does not receive money from the Web site, but said she is flattered that so many people are using it.

Funk said she recently received an e-mail from a woman working on a master's degree at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

"She asked me if she could use my material in her thesis on special education," Funk said.

The site can be viewed at www.ma.psu.edu/~ma_tapps.

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