The awards are the first of an ongoing program designed to integrate students with disabilities into the ThinkQuest Internet Challenge. The international team of three students who created the winning entry theAbleDisabled.com were the recipients of $1,000 scholarships, while their coaches and the schools they represented each earned cash prizes of $500. The ABILITY Magazine Awards were made possible by a grant from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF).

Earning ABILITY Scholarships were Alison Goldsworthy, a student at Haberdashers' Monmouth School for Girls in Gloucester, England; Sukaina Khaki from Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, Florida; and Jeff Wilhelm, a freshman at the University of Rhode Island.

Their respective coaches are information architect Gerard McGovern, creator of SignHear.com, a site which teaches American Sign Language and has received over 14 million hits since its inception; Joseph "Tim" Harper, who teaches math and business at Sukaina's school; and Diane Van Ausdall, a teacher at Jeff's high school alma mater in Connecticut.

According to members of the winning team, the main educational objective of theAbleDisabled.com is to break down the barriers associated with learning disabilities. Besides being an information resource for many types of learning disabilities, the site aims to become a meeting place where young people with disabilities can get togetherča one-stop for those with specific questions or general curiosity as well as for the casual web surfer.

"Our Foundation shares with ABILITY the goal of ensuring that young people with disabilities have the chance to develop their full potential and to be recognized for their abilities," stated Rayna Aylward, MEAF's Executive Director. "We are particularly pleased to partner with ABILITY on the ThinkQuest Challenge, because the Internet is the new frontier for communications, careers, and community. This frontier needs to be open and accessible to everyone."

The Awards Ceremony at CERN honored all student teams in attendance. Diplomats, parents, guests, ThinkQuest International Partners, educators and technologists praised the teams. Dr. Terence W. Rogers, President and CEO of Advanced Network & Services, stated, "Thousands of kids have amazed us with their creativity, and we hope that millions more will join them in the future."

The Internet Challenge enjoyed new levels of participation this year, which marked the first time ThinkQuest had the opportunity to host the Awards Weekend abroad. Diplomats representing 14 of the finalists' countries were in attendance.

The ThinkQuest Internet Challenge consists of teams of st udents, ages 12 to 19, who work together to create interactive, compelling and well-researched web sites on educational topics. These collaborative efforts foster creativity, friendships and lifelong skills. ThinkQuest Internet Challenge teams work for more than eight months to gather data, conduct research and learn about the Internet as a collaborative medium as they build educationally rich sites. This year's 25 ThinkQuest Internet Challenge teams were selected from a pool of more than 10,000 participating students and teachers, and came from cities as far away as Kaoshsiung, Taiwan; Tucson, Arizona; Baku, Azerbaijan; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Upon completion, the entries become a permanent part of the ThinkQuest Library, which is available to teachers, students and Internet users around the globe.

The Internet Society conducts the judging for the ThinkQuest Internet Challenge. A panel of experts review sites for compelling and accurate educational content, technical excellence, interactivity and imaginative use of graphics. Teams are also assessed on how well members collaborate on their entries by sharing individual knowledge, skills and efforts with others on the team.


ThinkQuest ABILITY Award

Visit ThinkQuest.org

More stories from Marie Osmond issue:

Interview with Marie Osmond

Ricardo Penalver; The legendary artist

Connie Stevens' CES Foundation Fund Raiser

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