New U.Va. Web Site for Kids, Unique Among College Web Sites

February 23, 2007

Feb. 23, 2007 -- There’s only one section of the University of Virginia Web site where playful whirs, bumps and clicks sound off as your mouse moves over links to a word scramble of U.Va. lingo or a crossword puzzle of notable grads. This new U.Va. Web page, “Especially for Kids,” is designed for today’s Internet-savvy elementary school kids who can play the interactive games and download U.Va.-themed screensavers, wallpaper or ‘buddy icons’ for instant messaging.

“I knew we were on the right track when we added the noises to the Web page, and my 9-year-old son heard them and dropped his toy to come over and investigate what was going on,” said Nancy A. Tramontin, U.Va.’s lead Webmaster. The new Web page also features subtle continuing movement to better engage children, Tramontin noted.

Visitors to this page can read a graphics-rich history of U.Va. for kids, watch an animated timeline of U.Va. history, respond to a survey, answer Wahoo trivia questions, listen to a podcast on the role of technology in history or take one of four virtual tours of the University. Younger kids can download coloring book pages depicting the Rotunda or the Cavalier mascot.

This new kids Web page is part of a major redesign of the University of Virginia Web site that was unveiled on Feb. 19. It may be the only one of its type hosted by a major U.S. university, Tramontin said.

Its creation was spurred, in part, by a steady stream of e-mails from children, usually in grades 3 through 7, asking for information about the University or Thomas Jefferson. Tramontin explained.
“The University of Virginia is designated as a United Nations’ World Heritage Site and one of Jefferson’s three proudest accomplishments, as noted on his self-authored epitaph,” Tramontin said. “These unique attributes make it the subject of many grade school reports. We wanted to let kids more easily learn about this incredible national treasure.” Now they have access to plenty of U.Va. history, trivia and pictures, at the click of their mouse.

For kids, or parents, who want to do more than just learn about U.Va., the Web page also features a comprehensive list of University programs and services for kids, such as the University’s Four Star summer sports and academic camps, Summer Nature Camps at U.Va.’s Blandy Experimental Farm research station, the Summer Arts program or the Cavalier Kids Clubs. There’s also the Mousetrap Car Design Competition, an annual program offered by U.Va.’s Center for Diversity in Engineering, challenging middle and high school students to create a mousetrap car design, essay and poster.

To visit the new “Especially for Kids” Web page, go to