Environmental Factor, November 2011, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
New website brings environmental health to kids and classrooms
In addition to his special projects, such as the Kids' Page redesign, Kang is also the NIEHS lead in social media communications as the OCPL lead in communications for the Division of Extramural Research and Training grant portfolio. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
On Oct. 3, NIEHS launched a complete redesign of its extremely popular Kids' Web Pages (http://kids.niehs.nih.gov/). The new site features modern design, colorful graphics, and musical elements. More importantly, it ties in relevancy to environmental health sciences by introducing children to concepts, simple experiments, quizzes, and other fun and educational activities. For teachers, the site features lesson plans and classroom activities that help bring environmental health concepts into the classroom.
“Our Kids web site is extremely popular and gets more than 14 million visits each year,” said Christine Flowers, NIEHS communications director. “It's become a place where children and adults first learn about the NIEHS and how the environment influences everyone's health.” That tie-in between the entertainment aspects and the informational components was a key driver for the site's redesign.
Achieving a contemporary look and feel was another important goal for the project. After more than 15 years, the former site's design was ready for a refresh. “The new look has a fresh new face that younger children and their parents and teachers will really enjoy,” said Ed Kang, public affairs specialist in the Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL) who was the project manager for the design overhaul.
Kang was quick to recognize the input of many NIEHS staff who took part in the process. “Our employees have been generous with their time, and their feedback and input has been invaluable to the project,” he said. In addition to participating in focus groups and providing design input, employees even offered up their children as usability testers. “Having kids, and even a few of their teachers, give us feedback, made for a quality product we can be confident people of all ages will continue to use,” said Kang.
Now that a new design is complete, the next phase will add new content, photos, and videos to ensure there is ongoing relevancy to current health topics. Future content will also be focused on a broader age range of children to encompass students in grades 6 -12.
“There are about 1,000 pages to enjoy now, and we want to add even more,” said Kang. “As an Institute, we should strive to offer quality science content that is attractive to children.”
The new NIEHS Kids' Pages can be found at http://kids.niehs.nih.gov(http://kids.niehs.nih.gov).