Garfield & Ball State Launch Site

    August 22, 2005

Garfield cartoonist Jim Davis and his alma mater, Ball State University, teamed up to launch a new website loaded with education games, activities, instruction, drill and demonstrations.

The new site, ProfessorGarfield, was put together by Ball State and the Garfield creative team, Paws, Inc. but lots of other players have gotten involved including Pearson Digital Learning, Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, Scholarship America, USA Funds, Sallie Mae, Columbia Teacher’s College and Grammy winning children’s composer Red Grammer.

“Over my 27-year career of doing GARFIELD, I’ve heard countless stories from parents and teachers telling me that the strip kick-started a child’s interest in reading,” says Davis. “The comic strip is simple and fun with a logical sequence and word-picture clues. I began to feel strongly that comic strips were an overlooked, yet readily accessible learning tool. If you can tickle a child’s funny bone, you can tickle and stimulate his brain.”

Ball State agreed with Davis’ assessment. Through its Business Fellows program, backed by a $1.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc., five students worked an entire semester developing the section’s content. The students, from the university’s Teachers College, developed material for the site’s reading section, which uses comic strips and fun interactive challenges to promote reading and reading comprehension.

Through the site, students can hone reading skills while wrestling Dr. Stripp in the “Reading Ring,” learn to draw with Jim Davis and his staff artists in the “Art-Bot,” climb into the “Knowledge Box” to play math, social studies and language arts games, see how sleeping well means doing well at the National Institutes of Health’s “Star Sleeper,” and challenge Professor Garfield in a trivia contest in “G-Cubed.”

“Garfield and Jim Davis are committed to blending humor with the power of the Internet as an education tool, and the Teachers College has dedicated its resources in content development, research and assessment to create an educational site that’s like no other in the world,” said JoAnn Gora, President of Ball State University.

Content on the site is based on state standards and includes teacher’s lesson plans and incorporates assessment methodologies. The site also includes free printable award items for teachers to use as incentives. Over time, the site will mature into areas of writing, mathematics and other core areas, first at kindergarten through third grade levels and systematically expanding to encompass grades K-12.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.