PLAY - Brett Manson and Georgia and Marisa Louridas
are discovering that computers can be fun than
sitting in front of the TV
kids learn through play
by Greg Gordon
IT LOOKS and sounds
like the kind of place children would go to have
fun. The music is loud, the atmosphere informal and
the décor bright. A 10-year-old child on
rollerblades goes thundering down the corridor.
Are we at a movie
complex on a Saturday night? No, it's Saturday
afternoon and between bouts at the pool table or
visits to the soft-drink vending machine, these
children are getting to grips with the latest
They are at K-Net, a
computer learning centre for schoolchildren and
teenagers that mixes education and entertainment in
a relaxed environment. The facility opened in
Rivonia in December and 100 children have already
attended courses there.
Managing director Jil
Hrdliczka says children who attend afternoon
sessions, holiday or weekend courses use the centre
as a learning and recreational facility.
"It's a place
where children between the ages of three and 17 can
have fun and learn to make technology work for them.
Computers are the best tools for entertainment,
research, projects, and general development.
"Here they have
a meeting place where they can exchange ideas with
other children with similar interests and
experience. At the same time they have hands-on
access to the latest technology," she says.
Miller, 11, is excited. He's holding up a print of
Bugs Bunny produced on a new colour printer at home.
He says his grandfather helped him download the
image from a bulletin board.
computers," he says. " We've got five PCs
at home - from an old XT to a laptop and a 486DX/33
- and the whole family uses them. I enjoy games but
would like to do programming when I leave school.
"At K-Net I've
learned the basics of animation and how I can use a
PC to help me with everyday projects like homework
and school assignments," he says.
Manson, 15, attended the opening of the facility and
has been a regular ever since. "I knew a bit
about PCs before but now I know a lot. I have a 486
at home and use it for games or school projects. I
also help my father by typing letters on it. I'd
like a job in computer graphics when I leave
school," he says.
Georgia, 12, and Marisa Louridas, 10, joined K-Net
when their father told them about it. Says Georgia:
"We've got a DOS-based PC at home which we use
to play games. Here, I've been working with video
and animation on the PC to do school projects and
have made quite a few friends."
In one corner a group
of kids watch a friend destroying alien spacecraft
in one of the latest shareware game. Equally
engrossed are two young girls communicating via