Please Ma, Can We Go To The Computer Playground?

AS DESICCATED MUNICIPAL budgets have taken their toll on public playgrounds, for-profit playgrounds, usually located indoors, have taken off. Now a company in Arlington, Va., is starting a chain that will feature computer games instead of the usual trampolines and miniature golf.

The main attraction at the first TechTrek center, a 4,000-square-foot facility in Rockville, Md., is seven clusters of five or six computer stations each. They're programmed to help children learn math, science, geography, and history and to let them dabble in electronic painting.

One cluster lets kids try out the latest "edutainment" software products, which parents can then purchase at an adjoining retail store. The admission fee: a hefty $6.95 per hour for each child, no charge for parents. The founder is Mehrdad "Dadi" Akhavan, president and co-founder of Trident Software Inc., a maker of multimedia software products. He plans to take TechTrek national starting next year.

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