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| Where Homework and the Internet Meet: LAUNCH POINT


May 12, 1999

Africa represents a land of ancient traditions, great civilizations and a past woven with struggle and conquest. This continent is home to rolling grasslands, mysterious jungles and sprawling deserts, all including fascinating wildlife. Explore the vast dimensions of Africa's people, cultures, geography, wildlife and more through direct links on the Times Launch Point web site:

Here are the best sites for getting your schoolwork done or for just having fun.

Level 1

Ancient Africa: Learn about the daily lives of ancient peoples who lived in Ghana, Mali and Songhay, including how they built their homes and how camel caravans were important for trading goods.

AFRO-Americ@: Kids Zone: Did you know that more than 1,000 languages are spoken in Africa? Find out other interesting facts as you learn about countries, read some fun folk tales and try some games.

Africa Online: Kids Only: Africa is the second largest continent and has about 14% of the world's population. Find out what schools are like in Africa, meet some children who live there and try some fun games as you learn more about this continent.

Level 2

Mr. Dowling's Virtual Classroom: Ancient Africa: Ancient Ethiopians practiced Christianity and claimed to have descended from the biblical Solomon. Archaeologists have uncovered fascinating stone structures and artifacts from remote sites in Zimbabwe. Discover more about the treasures from Ancient Africa, including the importance of salt, which was worth more than gold.

Mr. Dowling's Virtual Classroom: Colonial Africa: Europeans began exploring Africa in search of a water route to India. Travel back to the colorful history of Colonial Africa and examine important explorers, leaders, places and issues.

The Living Africa: Africa contains some of the planet's most diverse cultural, geographic and wildlife settings. Learn about its unique features as you go on a virtual safari. Listen to some traditional music and learn a few words of Swahili.

Level 3

African Timeline: History, Orature, Literature & Film: Trace Africa's history from its beginnings through discoveries such as the 3.18-million-year-old remains of "Lucy" up to the present day with achievements of inspirational leader Nelson Mandela. Read articles on Africa's rich cultural heritage such as the tradition of storytelling.

Safari Destinations & Wonders: "Safari" is a Swahili word for "travel." Explore the vast landscapes of Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Morocco, Tanzania, Kenya and more while learning about each country's history, geography, wildlife and culture.

African Writers and Their Literature: Did you know that Chinua Achebe originally intended to study medicine, that Wole Soyinka was the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and that Alan Paton's acclaimed work "Cry, the Beloved Country" has sold more than 15 million copies? Learn many interesting facts about African writers and their works.

Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine department of education, which reviews each site for appropriateness and quality. Even so, parents should supervise their children's use of the Internet. This week's column was designed by Desmond Holshouser, Michael Ciecek and Brigette Troxell.


The answer to this Internet quiz can be found in the sites at right.

Explorer's Quest Quiz Question:

Why are griots important to West African culture?

Clue: Mr. Dowling's Virtual Classroom: Ancient Africa

The answer to this Internet quiz can be found in the sites at right.

Find What You Need to Know: Have a project on California history? Need help doing a math problem? Launch Point now covers more than 80 topics for getting your schoolwork done. Go to for the full list of subjects and direct links to the best Internet sites.

Answer to last week's Quest: The emblem on the Mexican flag dates from an ancient Indian legend guiding the Aztecs to seek a place where an eagle landed on a cactus, eating a snake.

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