Clicks Are for Kids
Anderson, Robert, Natural History
Hundreds of interactive science Web sites for young people are just a click away via the Internet, in disciplines from astronomy to zoology. Finding good ones, though, on topics that really interest children, isn't easy. I wasted a lot of time until I stumbled on Science NetLinks (sciencenetlinks.com), an educational project conceived and operated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). A visit to this site beats scrolling through the hits from a Google or Yahoo search, hands down.
Science NetLinks is a virtual Grand Central Station for kids (and for parents and teachers) trying to reach Web sites that are both instructive and fun. On the home page, choose "Tools" from the menu bar at the top ("tools" is Science NetLink-speak for subject matter). Tools include such topics as "Exploring Caves," "Heat," "Simple Machines," and "The Water Cycle at Work." When you click on such an item, you jump to a Web-site link, a short description of the site, and some grade-appropriate activities relevant to the site's resources.
For example, the tool called "Monster Bugs," for children in kindergarten through second grade, features a Web site that helps teach about systems and their parts. When you click on the Web link, you're transported to a page of the "Magic School Bus" site, where you can build your own insects from a selection of bug body parts. (It's one of my kids' favorite Web pages.)
Helpful hints for bug construction are available at another tool, "Bug Bios," which advertises "shameless promotion of insect appreciation" through macrophotography-150 spectacular color enlargements. "Nowhere to Hide" focuses on evolution, with a simple, amusing demonstration of natural selection, and "Lunar Cycle 2: The Challenge" tests young astronomy fans on what they know about the phases of the Moon. …