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Some schoolchildren will spend the summer traveling to far-off places like New York and Australia.

And meeting new friends coast to coast - all without leaving Provo.It's done by computer.

"We're involved with a group called Global Schoolhouse, sponsored by the National Science Foundation along with some business education partners such as Apple, who donates the computers, and a variety of companies who donate the software and networking capability," said Colleen Densley, a sixth-grade teacher at Canyon Crest Elementary.

That means once or twice a week, Densley gathers together a group of her students in front of the Macintosh 660 computer and they visit with other schoolchildren in cities across the nation and even foreign countries.

The kids research a common topic such as "Natural Disasters and How We've Survived Them," or "Blue Skies and the Weather" and then share their information using speaker phones and space-age computer technology.

Linked by satellite and picked up by a mini-camera on top of the computer, children can see each other in a cluster of windows on the computer screen, sometimes as many as a half dozen at a time.They can hear one another talk or transmit typewritten messages over the screens through what is known as the Maven System.

The first week, students met in the basement of the Provo City School District offices and linked up with students waving at them from a school in Gilbert, Ill.; another in Arlington, Va.; one in La Costa Heights, N.Y.; and one in Holmes, Neb.

The next week, a group participated in the largest Global Schoolhouse event yet staged, involving nine schools that included one from New Zealand and one in Australia.

The Utah students shared experiences about floods and snowstorms. Dustin Eyre talked about Gov. Norman Bangerter's bad luck in deciding to order a $70 million pump that hasn't been needed since the flood in 1983 that prompted it.

Casey Cox told about Salt Lake City's unusual method of handling the high runoff by making rivers out of roads.

The students shared information they gleaned about earthquakes from a simulation at the State Capitol building.

All five, including Christian Rudd, Jared Jackson and Megan Lohrke, got a chance to go "on the air." Broadcasting coast to coast, however, proved a little more daunting than they planned. At the same time, it was exciting.

For a time, technical difficulties kept them from being visible to their counterparts around the country.

"I think when we get the dedicated line into the school, we'll have less trouble. It'll be faster too," said Densley. "We were just so excited to try it, we didn't want to wait."

"You've heard about the information highway? Well, we're on it," said Densley.