Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

June 27, 2000

New Web site on Arctic to be launched July 1

A groundbreaking Web site intended to introduce Canadians to the country's vast polar regions is being launched July 1 by the University of Guelph's CyberNatural Software Group.

Canada's Polar Life will have eight components, including science updates, searchable databases and eventually a "Polar Forum" that will allow students and educators to interact in their quest to learn about the Arctic. The Web site is part of an extensive multimedia package on Canada's polar life that will also include a DVD, CD-ROM and a teacher's manual that will be distributed to every primary and secondary school in Canada.

"Canadians know next to nothing about life in a region that constitutes about one-third of their country's land mass," said Prof. Paul Hebert, chair of the Department of Zoology, who started CyberNatural Software. "By creating educational materials on the Arctic designed for use on a national scale, the perspectives of young Canadians can be directed northwards."

The Web site, DVD and CD-ROM are intended to spur interest in the Arctic, foster respect for arctic ecosystems and make people more aware that research is needed to ensure that the North is developed wisely, Hebert said. "These digital media will bring the landscape and life of the Arctic within the reach of all Canadian youth."

Project Manager Judy Wearing-Wilde added that the arctic project is groundbreaking because of its comprehensive scope. "There are certainly books that provide an introduction to polar plants, birds and mammals, but much other life remains undocumented. Our project will fill this void. We will use digital media to show the first colour images ever made of such polar life." The Web site's science updates will include breaking news stories and descriptions of every species of arctic plants, mammals, birds and fish, as well as invertebrate and plant groups. The project is funded in part by the Millennium Fund of Canada, the Ministry of Science, Energy & Technology and the ELJB Foundation.

Hebert and his researchers are the only university team working on the animal life in the million or so lakes in arctic Canada. The researchers work with CyberNatural to help improve education in the environmental sciences, most recently concentrating on the Arctic. The software group includes a multimedia team of artists, illustrators and writer who create instructional CD-ROMS and Web teaching material in the environmental sciences. Many of its programs are designed for the public education system and are made available to schools at a reasonable cost.

Contacts: Prof. Paul Hebert Department of Zoology 519) 824-4120, Ext. 3598

Judy Wearing-Wilde Associate Director, CyberNatural (519) 824-4120, Ext. 8524

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 3338

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