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Friday, 17 May, 2002, 23:57 GMT 00:57 UK
Cyber babe promotes science
Bunsen burner
Jemma is studying science at university
Online coverage of the trials and tribulations of a cyber physics student is the latest gimmick designed to get girls interested in science.

The life of Online Jemma will form a soap opera in an attempt to challenge the "while lab coat" image of science.

University student Jemma will appear on webcam to share her thoughts on the big scientific issues of the day, such as artificial intelligence, cold fusion and space science.

Users will also find out all the latest boyfriend and "what's going on around campus" gossip.

Jemma will encourage people to take part in forums on her site and will promise to e-mail them every day.

Positive thinking

The character is being created by XPT Ltd, who created the travel writer character Online Caroline, and internet sites Mount Kristos and IT3C.

Writer Tim Wright and director Rob Bevan said the series was aimed at girls in the 11 to 18 age group to encourage them to think more positively about pursuing a career in science.

XPT plans to enlist the help of scientific advisers and writers to develop a plot that tackles science-related issues of topical interest and engages the general public.

Online Jemma is being funded by a 90,000 grant from the National Endowment for Sciences, Technology and the Arts (Nesta).

She is expected to be launched in October for an initial six months.

If Jemma proves popular, the scheme may be continued until the end of the school year in 2003.

See also:

02 Jan 01 | Education
Scientists stuck with geek image
23 Jan 02 | Sci/Tech
Recruiting the new IT girls
17 Jan 02 | Sci/Tech
1m fund to attract women to tech
23 Jul 01 | New Media
Soap slips through the net
28 Jun 00 | Education
2001 'year of science'
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