In a recent episode of Disney’s A.N.T. Farm, the students were devastated when their principal cut off the school’s Internet connection. In one scene, the students were reminded that the school actually had a library. However, when they went there to find information, the room was dark and dusty.
While parents like me who were watching the episode with their kids may have chuckled a bit, it just shows how important the Internet has become as a means of helping kids with their school work. It got me thinking about some sites that students can use to help them with their school work. What follows is a listing of a handful of sites that I recommend for students.
1000 Science Fair Projects
If you’re like most parents, each year, your kids announce that their school’s science fair is coming up soon. That’s where 1000sciencefairprojects.com will help your kids with ideas that are appropriate for their age/grade. Having gone through a few of these already with our own daughter, I know how tough it can be for the kids to come up with a good idea, especially for their first few science fairs. Our school provides a listing of “suggested” experiments, which many of the kids end up doing, resulting in little variety among the entrants.
This site breaks down the different types of projects by subject matter as well. This will make it easier for your kids to find a project that will interest them while also making the subject matter on par with what other kids are doing. Of course, students who want to “show off” a little might choose something from a grade or two above where they are now.
Google Scholar is the site that I always send my own students to when they’re looking for reliable articles. It’s a little different in my situation, as I’m teaching at the college level, where the average age of my students is roughly 30. I like the search tools that are available to students on this site. They include being able to search by date, sorting the results by date or relevance, including or excluding patents/citations, and more.
The one caveat that I always make sure to give my students is that they should avoid paying Google for article. It doesn’t happen that often, but occasionally Google does ask for payment to download a paper. Instead, I tell my students they should write down the information about the article and check with the school’s library, which may be able to get the article for the student at no cost.
I found this site one day almost by accident. It has a lot of information that can help kids, especially those in the middle school/junior high grades. Younger kids could also benefit from this site, but high school students would find this site of minimal value compared to other sites that are available to them. I especially liked the section on helping students with how to write an essay paper. This is a skill that I see lacking sometimes even in my own students. Thankfully, we offer several classes at Philadelphia University that are geared to help students improve their writing skills, as well as tutoring on writing papers.
School House Rock
One of my absolute favorite learning tools when I was a kid was watching School House Rock on television. While the short educational videos are no longer shown in between Saturday morning cartoons, all of them are available by watching the School House Rock Channel on YouTube. Your kids can learn about everything from math and American history to science and finances. We own the DVD ourselves and my daughter has watched every video on it at least a dozen times. For us parents, all of the songs were put on CD, sung by modern artists. And yes, I own it.
While my students are not allowed to cite Wikipedia in their assignments, this does not mean that they cannot use Wikipedia to help them with their assignments. Even though most of the content available on the site is probably accurate, there is too much uncertainty to trust the site when it really counts. This page alone should tell you about the potential for incorrect information on Wikipedia. My personal favorite on that list is the Bicholim Conflict, only because I can remember seeing a story on the news about how a doctoral student tried using the site in his thesis paper.
How students can take advantage of Wikipedia is by looking at the list of external links, usually located at the bottom of the page for a given article. I myself have used them for school on multiple occasions. Of course, the important thing to keep in mind is the quality of the site that is being used as a reference to support the Wikipedia article.
Cover image courtesy of Flickr.