What do a rat and a Ph.D. have in common? They team up to wire schools for computer networks.
Judy Reavis, the brains of the partnership, trained Rattie, a seven-inch laboratory rat, to pull string -- connected to category five computer cable -- through air ducts, walls and other narrow places. Rattie heads for the tapping sound Reavis makes, and when she emerges towing the string, she is treated to cat food and gummi bears. The string is pulled, the cable emerges, and another computer links to the Internet.
The partnership volunteered for Netday and, at last count, helped wire 10 schools. Rattie has attracted so much mail from children that the partnership now has its own website at . Rattie also has an advice column. "Ask Judy's Rat," ghostwritten by Reavis, president of Hermes Systems Management in Benecia, Calif. Children from around the world have logged on and sent e-mail to .
Reavis trained Rattie 20 minutes a day for three months, using rolled up screen as a maze, and gradually introducing obstacles -- such as cotton to simulate insulation.
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