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Blast of fresh air

Michael Prochak revels in the fun factor.

If you really want a creative approach to multimedia, get under-16s on your development team." That was the verdict of Jon Baldachin, technical director at First Information Group on seeing the output of students who took their ideas and let them run.

He was looking at entries to the multimedia competition sponsored by Radius and The TES earlier this year in association with Apple Computer, Adobe, Macromedia, First Information and Aardman Animations.

It was clear that today's students understand the elements of design and technology that make interactive visibility possible and desirable.

Like any good multimedia event, the competition gave emphasis to design, imagination, creativity and the ability to communicate ideas clearly. Entries were judged on their choice of subject matter, multimedia potential, structure and presentation and each was also awarded an overall "fun" rating. All entries exhibited a remarkable freshness of imagination and explored a range of ideas with an uncanny ease and understanding of content and technology that is so often lacking in many big-budget commercial titles.

Paul Hatlee, Ian Mercer, Luke Oram, David Pryde and Martin Thornell from Sir Bernard Lovell School in Bristol were responsible for the under-16s winner "Encounter". This turned traditional geography into an imaginative interactive game featuring an "alien" explorer that wouldn't look out of place in Deep Space 9. Fun content was high.

First prize in the over-16 category was won by Malvern Girls College for their idea of "showing off" their school through an interactive prospectus designed to capture what they saw as the "real essence and spirit of the school" through video, interviews and photographs.

Nur-Run Hussein, Rina Adam and Palawi Bunnag worked through lunch breaks and evenings on their project, which included an attractively designed and illustrated storyboard detailing every aspect of how the proposed CD-Rom should be structured and how users would be able to interact with it. As part of their prize, the Malvern team will work with First Information Group to turn their idea into an actual CD-Rom disc.

Runner-up prizes were awarded to Frank Wise School for children with learning difficulties, Hookergate School in Rowlands Gill, Tyne and Wear, and South Thames College. Since all entries displayed a high level of thought and creativity, the judges awarded certificates of commendation to Lakenheath American middle school, Norfolk, Maru-a-Bula school in Botswana and St Joseph's school, Warrington, Cumbria.

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