Free web resource helps schools evaluate tech companies

Beginning this month, you and your colleagues will have a new ally to help you make better purchasing decisions: eSchool News has created a free internet resource that will help you find, compare, and evaluate companies that provide technology products and services to K-12 education.

“In most states and cities, money for education is tighter than it’s been in years,” noted Gregg W. Downey, editor and publisher of eSchool News. “Funding for school technology is expected to be down again this school year. So now, more than ever, educators need to become still more adept at managing their smaller budgets. And that means savvy purchasing is essential.”

The School Technology Buyer’s Guide is a comprehensive, one-stop source of vendor information. Facts and figures on some 3,500 school technology vendors are now available to educators online, 24-7.

The guide’s home page allows users to search the online database for information by company name, keyword, or vendor category. Search results are returned as a list of links to the vendor listings that match the search criteria. Each listing contains the company’s mailing and web-site addresses, toll-free numbers, product descriptions, key contacts, and other relevant information.

The School Technology Buyer’s Guide is designed to be easy to use for both educators and companies that sell technology to schools. The online guide consists of a number of integrated features, supported by a single underlying database.

Soon, educators using the guide will be able to rate listed vendors on key performance characteristics. These ratings will be based on the educators’ personal experiences and impressions, similar to the way visitors to rate books and music and write reviews of those products.

Areas on which educators will be able to rate technology companies will include quality of service, fairness of price, promptness of delivery, the match between products and promises, and the availability and quality of training or technical support.

Educators will be able to provide responsible comments on their experiences with individual companies. These anecdotes will be presented for peer consideration and will form an increasingly rich repository of real-life information. Companies mentioned in this way also will be allowed to offer rebuttals or amplifications of the comments posted by educators.

The guide allows users to check off any two or more vendors whose information they wish to compare. A click of the mouse calls up side-by-side comparisons of multiple companies.

Visitors to the site also can check off the names of vendors from whom they wish to receive additional information. Pop-up forms offer users the opportunity to provide their names and addresses to those vendors they wish to hear from. This means school users receive information from only those companies they are actually interested in.

Information in the School Technology Buyer’s Guide was compiled from the listings in eSchool News’ print guide—the School Technology OneBook. With the electronic version, companies have the ability to update their listings or add new ones free of charge through a special vendor portal, which features an easy-to-use interface designed specifically for vendor use.

All prospective listings are reviewed by an eSchool News staff member to ensure compliance with the policies of the Buyer’s Guide. As a result, educators will have a continuously updated, accurate, and comprehensive resource that will enhance their ability to make smart technology pur- chases.

Related links:
K-12 School Technology Buyer’s Guide


Texas district’s eBook collection is worth checking out

An unusual new library at a Houston-area school district allows teachers and students to access hundreds of titles from anywhere in the world, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Aldine Independent School District’s electronic book (eBook) library opened its virtual “doors” for lending at the close of the 2000-2001 school year, and school officials say the level of use has grown as more titles have been added to the collection.

Aldine’s eBook library currently consists of 375 titles—both fiction and nonfiction—published in electronic format.

“Some titles are for professional use, [but] most are for student use,” said Christine Van Hamersveld, the district’s program director for library media services.

The majority of titles are for students in grades seven to 12, but there are also titles for elementary-aged children. The program is open to all students, employees, or parents in the district.

eBooks are essentially complete books put into electronic format.

“If you were to compare the eBook collection to a print collection, it includes everything a standard school library print collection would have,” Van Hamersveld said. That includes picture books, fiction, nonfiction, and reference materials.

The benefits of accessing books online rather than checking them out physically are numerous, she explained. An eBook is searchable by keyword, and a dictionary is built into the eBook reader software to help with unfamiliar words. In addition, eBooks are checked in and out automatically, so no extra staffing is required.

“eBooks give students with home computers access to reference materials and curriculum-related materials without requiring them to leave home,” said Van Hamersveld. And, because students can get the same texts at home on the internet, they don’t have to lug heavy books on their backs.

Aldine’s current eBook titles were purchased during the previous school year, after a group of librarians submitted recommendations from the list of available titles. Van Hamersveld compiled these recommendations, added her input, and put together the current list based on the district’s curriculum and the professional needs of the Aldine employees.

There are currently no textbooks on the list, because the district’s library media services department is not in charge of textbook purchases.

“I am aware that various publishers offer textbooks in eBook format,” said Van Hamersveld. “However, this type of purchase would not come under the Aldine Library Media Services’ umbrella, based on our selection policy.”

eBooks often are sold to schools as proprietary software that only works with one of the portable, paperback-sized eBook readers on the market, such as the Gemstar eBook reader or the Rocket eBook.

But eBooks also can be purchased off the internet and downloaded to a library’s online collection for viewing right on a computer screen or handheld device, and that’s the option Aldine officials have chosen. They purchase eBook texts from netLibrary, a division of Online Computer Library Center Inc. of Dublin, Ohio.

At Aldine, the existing computer equipment has been sufficient to support the new eBook library. “We did not need to add any hardware,” said Van Hamersveld. All Aldine computers are networked and have internet access.

First-time users of the eBook library just download the free netLibrary eBook reader software when they set up an account, which enables them to view the titles from any internet-connected machine, whether at home or school. The only “library card” users need is a valid password.

NetLibrary is one of several companies that work out deals with traditional book publishers to convert their titles to electronic format and then lease these titles on the web. Traditionally, companies that want to put material online have met with resistance from publishing houses, which fear the internet will support copyright infringement and encourage piracy of copyrighted works.

The eBook library operates almost exactly like a traditional library in terms of copyright protection regulations, Van Hamersveld told the Houston Chronicle.

“It is a single-user [service], just like if you were to go to the library and check out a book,” she said. “One person checks out that book, and until that book is checked back in no one else can access it. That makes the issues of copyright and profit margins … a little easier to swallow for the publishers.”

Training is an ongoing process at Aldine, as library media staff continue to make more people aware of the resource and to increase overall use of the eBook library.

Though the procedure used to access the eBook collection is not difficult to learn, library officials believe formal training is the best way to ensure that everyone knows how to search the collection and use an individual eBook.

“Students and teachers who have used the eBook library are very excited about this addition,” Van Hamersveld said. “As they become more comfortable with electronic resources in general, usage of our eBook collection will increase.”

Related links:
Aldine Independent School District



Local grant resources might be closer that you think

I recently conducted a grants workshop for a group of educators in southern Illinois, in which the issue of local grant resources was raised. One of the participants assured me that he was from a very small, rural Illinois town that had no foundations, no corporations—in short, no resources to look to for grant possibilities. However, upon closer examination, he conceded that maybe there were resources he could check into! This article will look at some of the local resources that educators might have in their communities without even realizing they exist.

One of your first steps should be to check your state’s foundation directory, if you haven’t already done so. A few months ago I purchased a state directory of Utah foundations, and I was amazed at the number of private funders in the state. You might think you don’t have any local foundations to pursue, but don’t make this assumption without checking your state’s directory.

Go to the Foundation Center’s national web site and look for the Foundation Center libraries in your state. Visit one and check to see if your state directory is available. Or, use the Foundation Center’s database to search for foundations in your state that fund education. Many state directories are available for purchasing online; however, you might want to look at one first before deciding to make a purchase.

I find that a book called “Giving by Industry,” from Aspen Publishers, gives me a great starting point when looking at a community and trying to uncover all of the possible sources of funding that might be available there.

Check with the banks in your community to see if they have local funds to distribute or if they are part of a national “chain” that has a larger foundation. An example of this type of foundation is First Union, which recently merged with Wachovia. If you have a First Union bank in your community, check to see what the eligibility guidelines are to request funding from Wachovia. If you have a U.S. Bank in your community, check out U.S. Bancorp; if there’s a Wells Fargo, check out the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Also, check with your local utility companies: gas, electric, and telecommunications providers. Again, you might find that your local electric company or cooperative is part of a much larger one that has a foundation. Your gas company might serve a large region of your state and provide grants to each local community where it has a presence. Your local telecommunications provider might be affiliated with a much larger provider (e.g. BellSouth, MCI WorldCom, US West) that offers grants to the communities it serves.

Don’t assume that your local businesses, if they are small to mid-size, will not give funds to support education. Some of these companies might be divisions or subdivisions of larger corporations that are not headquartered in your community—they could be halfway across the United States. However, because you have a local subsidiary in your community, you do have a direct connection to the larger corporation and might be eligible for grants.

Small to mid-size businesses in your community also have a vested interest in having a local “pool” of potential employees to draw from. Keep this in mind as you identify the skills your students need to improve upon and as you design projects to address these skills.

Related links:
Foundation Center

Aspen Publishers Inc.


Grant Deadlines


Alan Shephard Technology in Education Awards

Educators who demonstrate the effective use technology in the classroom are eligible to win a laptop computer through this brand-new program from the National Association of Education Technology Specialists (NAETS). The organization will grant its first annual Alan Shephard Technology in Education Award to an educator who has demonstrated innovation, commitment, and excellence in the teaching and development of technology programs in schools. The award is open to all educators and technology personnel at the school or district level who have demonstrated exemplary use of technology either to foster lifelong learners or to make the learning process easier. The winning nominee will be flown to an awards ceremony, where he or she will be presented with a commemorative trophy engraved with his or her name and a laptop computer. The honoree’s name also will go onto a master trophy to be housed at the NAETS home office. A school principal must nominate a candidate from a school, and an associate superintendent or superintendent must nominate all district-level personnel. Nominations for the award are to be submitted to the NAETS office between February 1 and April 30. The selection committee will make a final choice by May 27.

Deadline: April 30


Robert H. Michel Civic Education Grants

The Dirksen Congressional Center is giving $50,000 in new grants to help teachers, curriculum developers, and others improve the quality of civics instruction, with emphasis on the role of Congress in the federal government. Areas of interest include designing lesson plans, creating student activities, and applying instructional technology in the classroom. Examples of some eligible projects include lesson plans or student activities based on civics education web sites, or projects about the history of Congress using technology. Expenses eligible for support include faculty release time, software purchases, project-related incidentals such as photocopying, and professional development activities with specific relevance to the subject area. The intense competition for these grants means that requests for funds to purchase off-the-shelf resources such as textbooks, projects that lack innovation, and projects that benefit small numbers of students are not likely to be funded. Preference will be given to projects that demonstrate matching support.

Deadline: May 1

Transition to Teaching Program

Transition to Teaching, available through the U.S. Department of Education (ED), provides grants to recruit, train, and place talented individuals from other fields—such as business or technology—into teaching positions in K-12 classrooms and support them during their first years in the classroom. In particular, the program targets mid-career professionals from various fields who possess strong academic backgrounds and work experience to become teachers in relevant subject fields, particularly in high-need areas such as bilingual education, foreign languages, mathematics, reading, science, technology, and special education. It also supports recent college graduates with outstanding academic records and a baccalaureate degree in a field other than teaching. By regulation, $3,000,000 is the maximum award for national or regional projects; $1,500,000 is the maximum award for state projects; and $1,125,000 is the maximum award for local projects. The 2002 competition is expected to be announced in early April.

Deadline: May 20 (estimated)

Contact: Frances Yvonne Hicks at

Women’s Educational Equity Act Program

The Women’s Educational Equity Act Program, another ED initiative, provides funds to implement equity programs and policies in schools, including programs that encourage girls to succeed in technology-related programs and careers. The program targets most funds toward local implementation of gender-equity policies and practices. Research, development, and dissemination activities also are funded. Projects may be funded for up to four years. Examples of allowable activities include training for teachers and other school personnel to encourage gender equity in the classroom; innovative strategies and model training programs in gender equity for teachers and other school personnel; school-to-work transition programs; and guidance and counseling activities to increase opportunities for women in technologically demanding workplaces. ED generally awards six to nine grants for about $150,000 each. The 2002 competition was expected to be announced April 1.

Deadline: May 22 (estimated)

Contact: Madeline Baggett at

Help Us Help Foundation Grants

Oracle Corp.’s Help Us Help Foundation is a nonprofit organization that assists K-12 public schools and youth organizations in economically challenged communities through grants of computer equipment and software. Funding comes from Oracle Corp., as well as from other charitable donations. Grant recipients will receive internet appliances from the New Internet Computer Co. and Kyocera Mita laser printers to outfit 10, six, or five classrooms with five computers and one printer each. Applicants must document that their school is designated low-income and must provide test scores that show their students are struggling to meet achievement standards. In addition, the school already must have in place a technology infrastructure to support the internet appliances.

Deadline: May 31


Public Charter Schools Program

The Public Charter Schools Program, offered through ED, provides financial assistance for the planning, design, initial implementation, and dissemination of information on charter schools created by teachers, parents, and other members of local communities. Grants are available on a competitive basis to state education agencies (SEAs) in states that have charter school laws, and SEAs in turn make subgrants to authorized public chartering agencies in partnership with developers of charter schools. If an eligible SEA elects not to participate or if its application for funding is not approved, grants can be made directly to eligible local partnerships. Grants to SEAs average $3 million and others average $150,000. The 2002 competition was expected to be announced April 1.

Deadline: June 1 (estimated)

Contact: Donna Hoblit at

Teaching American History Grants

Teaching American History, another ED program, aims to raise student achievement by improving teachers’ knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of U.S. history. These grants are intended to help school districts—in collaboration with universities, museums, or historical societies—develop, document, evaluate, and disseminate innovative, cohesive models of professional development, such as web-based professional development programs for history teachers. Congress has appropriated $100 million for Teaching American History grants for fiscal year 2002. Grant awards will range between $350,000 and $1 million. The 2002 competition was expected to be announced April 1.

Deadline: June 3 (estimated)

Philips TechOver Sweepstakes

Philips Consumer Electronics is giving away two complete multimedia systems valued at $5,000 each as part of its TechOver Sweepstakes. Two classrooms will win Philips’ products, which will include a projector, monitor, VCR and DVD player, PC speaker sound system, portable audio system, soundcard, and CD-RW drive. A school administrator must register on behalf of an accredited school on the Philips web site by June 30, and only one entry per school is permitted. Two winners will be randomly selected from all eligible entries on July 10. No purchase is necessary.

Deadline: June 30


Arts in Education Grants

ED’s Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grants Program aims to strengthening arts instruction and improve students’ academic performance, including their skills in creating, performing, and responding to the arts. Funds must be used to improve or expand the integration of arts education in elementary or middle school classrooms, and using technology-based methods of teaching arts education is one possible approach. Grant applications must describe an existing set of strategies for integrating the arts into the regular elementary and middle school curriculum that could be implemented, expanded, documented, evaluated, and disseminated successfully. Awards usually range between $350,000 and $1,000,000. The 2002 competition is expected to be announced in mid-May.

Deadline: July 15 (estimated)


ClassLink Grants

Sponsored by cell phone manufacturer Nokia and a consortium of cell phone service providers (organized by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association), this program gives cell phones and free calling time to classroom instructors. The program is designed to create additional in-class learning opportunities by enabling students to call subject matter experts during school time, and also to provide instructors with emergency access to telephones to ensure their safety and the safety of their students. To date, more than 30,000 cell phones and 12 million hours of free phone time have been donated. Among the innovative uses of the system has been a project in a private school in Florida that allows each teacher to place his or her homework assignment on wireless voice mail daily, so that parents can call in and confirm their children’s homework assignments. Grants are made by individual local wireless providers; to find out if your provider is participating in the program, go to the ClassLink web site.

Intel Foundation Grants

Intel offers a wide range of support for many technology- and science-related initiatives. The company’s two main grant programs are the Intel Model School Program, which provides every school in the United States with the opportunity to apply for potential seeding of equipment and matches companies with schools to provide end-to-end solutions; and the Teach to the Future Program, which has pledged $100 million to train 400,000 teachers in the use of technology by 2003. Combined with software and equipment discounts from companies such as Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Premio, and Toshiba, Teach to the Future represents approximately a half-billion dollars invested by leading U.S. computer firms in bringing technology to the classroom. Applications for each of these programs can be found on the web sites below.

Lightware Education

Spotlight Program

Lightware, a producer of ultraportable, affordable projection technology, and PLUS Corp. of America, a leader in innovative projection solutions, have announced a new program called Education Spotlight. Through the program, Lightware and PLUS will donate three projectors and an electronic copyboard to a selected school each quarter, reflecting a commitment to increase the effective use of multimedia learning in K-12 education. Applicants are asked to give a unique example of how the projectors will be used when applying for the award. Recipients are chosen based on the creativity of their response, and PLUS and Lightware will share innovative applications with other educators on the Lightware web site. Oregon’s Ogden Middle School became the first recipient in November 2001.

MarcoPolo Professional Development Grants

The MCI WorldCom Foundation provides states and school districts with on-site professional development for K-12 teacher trainers on how to incorporate internet content into the classroom. The training sessions use print and online materials developed by the MarcoPolo Partnership, a consortium of leading educational organizations dedicated to creating high-quality internet content for the classroom. The training sessions are led by professionally trained internet education specialists, and all attendees receive copies of the MarcoPolo Teacher Training Kit.

MathSoft Educational Grants

MathSoft, a provider of math, science, and engineering software, has two grant programs available: the StudyWorks Innovative Teaching Grant Program and the Conference Presenter Grant Program. Through the former, educators and schools can receive a lab grant for 25 StudyWorks for Schools licenses, as well as additional licenses for the school’s media center. Interested applicants must submit a detailed proposal explaining how they would incorporate StudyWorks software into their curriculum. MathSoft also awards Conference Grants to provide stipends for educators attending math, science, or technology conferences who will be presenting a session or workshop using StudyWorks, Mathcad, or Axum. Educators interested in the program should submit a proposal of their conference session or workshop. Grant recipients will receive a grant of $100 or $200. Prospective applicants should consult the Mathsoft web site for program information and application details.

Contact: MathSoft Inc., Studyworks Grant Program, 101 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02142; fax (617) 577-8829.

Teach America!

Through its Teach America! program, the Gateway Foundation has promised to provide free technology training to 75,000 educators in public and private schools. Successful applicants will receive one year of free access to an online database containing more than 400 technology training courses, which run the gamut from word processing, to web site design, to spreadsheets, to computer-aided drafting. Applicants can be individual teachers or school district media representatives. Applicants must file a short note indicating their reasons for wanting access to the online training program and their plans for using their knowledge in the classroom.



Grant Awards

$105,000 in equipment from Schering-Plough Corp.

School nurses in Tennessee will get laptop computers, thanks to a donation from a New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company. Schering-Plough Corp., headquartered in Kenilworth, N.J., donated 300 refurbished Dell computers as part of its nationwide program to help school nurses treat asthma and allergies. The laptop donation is valued at $105,000, a company spokesperson said. The company, which has Tennessee operations in Memphis and Cleveland, also has created a web site to assist school nurses with respiratory problems. Kirkpatrick Elementary School nurse Andrea Davis received one of the first donated computers from First Lady Martha Sundquist, state Health Commissioner Dr. Fredia Wadley, Rep. Ken Givens, and Tennessee Association of School Nurses official Rebecca Brown. “These computers will give school nurses across Tennessee immediate access to important medical information that will help them better care for our school children,” Sundquist said.

$2 million from the ExxonMobil Foundation

The ExxonMobil Foundation Inc. has awarded $2 million in grants worth $500 apiece to more than 3,700 schools across the country through ExxonMobil’s Educational Alliance program. Each $500 grant was awarded to a school nominated by a local Exxon service station. The use of a $500 Educational Alliance grant is left to the discretion of local school officials. Grants may be used to purchase equipment from a school’s “wish list,” set up a program, or fund a special project, for example. According to the foundation spokeswoman Jeanne Miller, many schools plan to use the funds to buy computer hardware and software, digital cameras, scanners, or to upgrade their technology infrastructure.

$50,000 from the Edward E. Ford Foundation

A Saltsburg, Pa., private school for boys has been awarded $50,000 from the Edward E. Ford Foundation to upgrade its technology infrastructure. At the Kiski School, the nation’s oldest boys’ boarding school, every student and faculty member already has a notebook computer that can be connected to the school’s network in classrooms, offices, study halls, and dormitories. Now, with the grant award and $50,000 in matching funds, the private school plans to make more improvements. The funds will help replace and maintain network hardware, such as servers, switches and hubs. “We have one of the most wired campuses in the country, and the grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation will further enhance the high caliber of the Kiski computer network,” said Patricia Kowatch, a school spokeswoman. The Edward E. Ford Foundation’s main goal is to “encourage and improve secondary education as provided by independent schools in the United States.”


Use this new online curriculum to make sure your students are “CyberSmart!”

CyberSmart!, a new online curriculum co-published by the nonprofit CyberSmart! School Program and Macmillan/ McGraw-Hill, addresses the challenge of empowering children to use the internet safely, responsibly, and effectively. Developed through a collaboration of professional educators, curriculum experts, and internet industry innovators, the CyberSmart! curriculum teaches students what online behaviors are acceptable and appropriate, providing them with the tools they need to navigate the internet securely, sensibly, and effectively. Correlated to the International Society for Technology in Education’s National Educational Technology Standards, the curriculum consists of 65 original lesson plans with activity sheets. It is organized in five units, each teaching an important facet of internet use: Safety (how to enjoy the internet safely), Manners (social, legal, and ethical responsibilities when using the internet), Advertising (how to identify commercial messages and protect privacy), Research (strategies to mine online resources effectively), and Technology (learning about the past, present, and future of the internet).


“The Frederick Douglass Papers” provides insight into the abolitionist’s life and times

“The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress” presents the papers of the 19th-century African-American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher. The first release of the documents, from the Library of Congress’s Manuscript Division, contains about 2,000 items (with some 16,000 images) relating to Douglass’s life as an escaped slave, abolitionist, editor, orator, and public servant. The papers span the years 1841 to 1864, with the bulk of the material from 1862 to 1895, and undoubtedly will provide American history teachers with a bounty of material for their classes. The printed Speech, Article, and Book Series contains the writings of Douglass and such contemporaries in the abolitionist and early women’s rights movements as Henry Ward Beecher, Ida B. Wells, Gerrit Smith, Horace Greeley, and others. The Subject File Series reveals Douglass’s interest in diverse subjects such as politics, emancipation, racial prejudice, women’s suffrage, and prison reform. There is also a partial handwritten draft of Douglass’s third autobiography, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. The Miscellany Series includes newspaper clippings and photographs, and scrapbooks document Douglass’s role as minister to Haiti and the controversy surrounding his interracial second marriage. The online release of the Frederick Douglass Papers was made possible through support from the Citigroup Foundation.


Make a map of the night sky using “Sky Chart”

Stargazing just got a whole lot more fun with the advent of this web site. Now, you can look up at the stars and actually know which constellation you’re looking at. Available at the new Sky & Telescope magazine web site, the interactive Sky Chart simulates a naked-eye view of the sky from any location on Earth, at any time of day or night, on any date from 1600 to 2400. Sky Chart links an extensive database of celestial objects and geographic locations. Users simply enter their city and country location and their time zone to view an enlargeable and printable map of the sky visible in their neighborhood that night. “It’s like having your own personalized planetarium,” notes Alen Yen, president and creative director of Interactive Factory, designers of the Sky Chart. Sky & Telescope has been a source of information for current and aspiring astronomy practitioners worldwide since 1941. In addition to the Sky Chart, the new Sky & Telescope web site incorporates a personalized almanac, searchable magazine archives, enhanced store, and expanded content.


The Mona Lisa is a click away at this Louvre web site

The web site for the Louvre, arguably the most famous art museum in the world, allows students to drop in on the Mona Lisa, examine precious Etruscan artifacts, and take a virtual tour of one of the world’s most celebrated cultural centers. A special education site called—developed by the French Ministry of Education as a means to promote internet use in schools—includes lesson plans and an option for students to create their own personal art libraries, but these options unfortunately are available only in French. However, the Louvre’s English-language web site provides online access to more than 3,000 works of art and 350 exhibit halls. Through this site, teachers can expose their students to several historical artifacts and timeless pieces of art that have never been available online before. History and language teachers can take their classes on a tour of ancient Mesopotamia or send them to explore Middle Eastern culture, while art instructors can use their time at the Louvre to develop slide shows that focus on many of history’s most awe-inspiring paintings and sculptures. Interactive options include a virtual tour of the entire museum, a library of historical facts, updated news and museum announcements, and a history page.


Excavate fun cave information at the “Virtual Cave”

Earth science teachers will love this new site about caves, where students can view numerous photos of a variety of caves and cave formations, from spelunkers Djuna Bewley and Dave Bunnell. These two caving enthusiasts have photographed some amazing underground formations and have arranged their library of images under specific cave groupings. Solution caves are the caves most people are familiar with. Dissolved out of limestone by acidic water, they can contain an astounding variety of speleothem formations, such as stalactites and stalagmites. Caves also can be formed from superheated melted rock digging tunnels through the earth’s crust, and these are called lava tubes. The lava tube section is the newest addition to the Virtual Cave web site and has 36 rooms to explore. Erosional caves may be carved into a variety of substances, including granite, sandstone, and even ice, by the power of water and wind-borne particles. Finally, students can safely examine the little-known and often-treacherous sea caves that are carved out of rock by the power of oceans, currents, and tides.