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Websites offer creative outlets to help kids explore careers

By KSL.com | Posted - Apr. 27, 2011 at 11:59 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Thursday is national Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day — a chance for kids to learn how their parents make a living and hopefully give them some inspiration for what they one day may choose as their career.

In the high-tech era of the 21st century, not all children will have the opportunity to accompany their mom or dad into work. But instead, they could get a glimpse into their potential career path in the virtual world. A new generation of websites is allowing children to explore career opportunities with creative hands-on, interactive tools in areas from fashion design to publishing to architecture.

For Alayse Roundy — a mother of three young children in Tropic, Garfield County — one of the sites has given her 7-year-old daughter, Kym, an outlet for her inner "fashionista."

"She is always changing her clothes and putting strange things together," Roundy said. "(At age 3), she changed her clothes (almost) hourly. (Today) she enjoys watching 'Project Runway.'"

Roundy said a recent Christmas gift gave the first-grader a chance to design her own clothes.

FashionPlaytes.com lets youngsters pick out the style and color of clothing items like jeans, hoodies, T-shirts and dresses and then customize them with appliqués, rhinestones, ribbons and ruffles. They can also personalize the label to feature their name.

Roundy said Kym has created about 20 of her own designs so far and really enjoys the creative aspects of fashion design.

Similarly, 9-year-old Maggie Harmstron, of Salt Lake City, finds creating her own unique designs inspiring.

"Making clothes is really fun for me," she said. The third-grader recently began learning how to sew as well.

Maggie's fascination with fashion began when she would go shopping with her mom. Those kinds of experiences are exactly what prompted the effort to have children accompany their parents to work — in hopes that it would spark interest in a potential career or vocation.

Besides FashionPlaytes.com, there are several other Web services for kids, including:

  • Tikatok (www.tikatok.com) is an online platform where parents and their children can write, illustrate and publish original stories into professional-quality hardcover and paperback books.
  • Architect Studio 3D (www.architectstudio3d.org) provides aspiring young architects with tools to discover the process of designing a home. Starting like real architects do, with a client who has lifestyle preferences and a site that has its own environmental considerations, kids can use their imagination to design their own architectural solutions.
  • For the budding journalist, My Pop Studio (www.mypopstudio.com) provides a creative interactive experience that allows kids to become editors for television, music, magazines and online media. For example, the magazine studio lets kids create a magazine layout featuring themselves as celebrities, write an advice column and even explore digital retouching.
  • www.discoverengineering.orgDiscover Engineering has activities, and videos - any kid who might be interested in Engineering will love this website. You can learn the basics of aviation, by learning how to make a paper airplane. You can even learn how to make a roller coaster. It's really basic, but it's going to get kids excited about engineering, and possibly interest them enough to go into that field.
  • astroventure.arc.nasa.govAstroventure.arc.nasa.gov is a great website for kids interested in science and space. You first go through training, where users learn about geology, astronomy, and other subjects. You then apply that training to missions. It's a great website for kids who want to enjoy space, and apply what they learned in real life.
  • For the musician, the San Francisco Symphony website (www.sfskids.org/templates/musicLabF.asp?pageid=15) includes a component called “the composerizer” that lets kids create their own tunes by combining different measures of music.

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Story written by Jasen Lee with contributions from Brooke Walker.

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