The 5th Dimension is a program of activities for elementary school-aged children designed for after school use. The purpose of the 5th Dimension is to provide children with rich intellectual and social experience that will promote their all around development, academic skills, and ability to work and play effectively with other people.
The 5th Dimension incorporates several tools to achieve its goals. First, and perhaps most eye-catching, is that most of the children's concrete activities are carried out on computers. Of the 40 or so specific activities in a typical 5th Dimension, 30-35 involve the children in the use of computers in some way. These computer-based activities are of several kinds: there are educational games, simple programming activities, and arcade-style games. Second, and very important for the operation of a successful 5th Dimension, is the presence of one computer that is especially for telecommunications—that computer is linked to phone lines so that children in different 5th Dimension's can communicate with each other. Third, both as a means to heighten the playfulness of the 5th Dimension and to provide many occasions for children to engage in writing, each 5th Dimension is overseen by a semi-mystical electronic Wizard who can be contacted ONLY through the use of telecommunications.
Essential to the operation of the 5th Dimension is a set of shared rules and customs that have been collected in a CONSTITUTION. A sample constitution is contained in the "other tools" section of this portion of the home page. However, you should keep in mind that a constitution can always be amended by agreement of the community.
This portion of the home page, on how to run a Fifth Dimension club, is adapted from the Official INCOMPLETE Guide to The 5th Dimension, written by the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition in 1994. The manual was called The Official INCOMPLETE Guide to The 5th Dimension, to highlight one of its major characteristics as an after school educational play activity: EVERY 5th Dimension IS DIFFERENT FROM EVERY OTHER 5th Dimension IN SOME WAYS BECAUSE IT IS DESIGNED TO ALLOW MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY TO EACH LOCATION THAT USES IT. All 5th Dimensions grow and change according to the desires and needs of their users. All that we, who have some experience building and maintaining 5th Dimensions, can do is to offer the fruits of our experience as a starting point for others to build from. The rest of this "How To" manual is written in that spirit.
One further word, this "How To" manual has been written on the basis of UCSD’s experience with the Boys and Girls Clubs in San Diego's North County area. Our experience indicates that different kinds of institutions will want to make changes for how their 5th Dimensions will be organized.