When researching for science projects, or any other school subjects, there is always a need for quality content for both the student and parent-helper. Search Engines are usually the first line of defense for most people and good results can be gained through this search process. However, a directory or encyclopedia type search may be a better more targeted solution for some. Here are our top suggestions.
Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia
Wikipedia is a free-content encyclopedia, written collaboratively by people from around the world. Here you can endlessly explore the fine details of just about any subject you are interested in. You can even volunteer to submit content that you have an expertise with. Relevant entries are crossed linked and organized so that your research can be as thorough as you want it to be.
Oracle ThinkQuest Library Archive
ThinkQuest was an annual competition where student teams from all over the world could propose, research, and design a high quality educational website on a topic of interest. During ThinkQuest's 15 year history, hundreds of sites were developed "by students, for students" on topics in science, math, literature, history, and the arts. The competition itself was discontinued in 2012, however the organizers archived the entire library - showcasing each year's winners, runner-ups, and finalists. These sites are available in their entireity, and can be searched by category from the link above.
Fun Fact! Thom, one of our developers at Make it Solar, participated in ThinkQuest when he was in 6th grade. His team's entry, "Words and Tolkien" earned a silver medal in the 1999 competition.
Khan Academy is an educational website featuring over 9000 videos on hundreds of different topics. You can watch short lessons explaining many of the underlying concepts in solar power, such as energy, light, thermodynamics, electricity and much more. These videos are easy to understand and along with their accompanying articles can be an excellent suplement to your research.
The Internet Public Library (IPL)
The IPL, is a public service organization and learning/teaching environment at the University of Michigan School of Information. Originally an experiment that started in 1995, the IPL tries to discover and promote the most effective roles and contributions of librarians to the Internet and vice versa. Like a library, the information is high quality and well organized into a category format.
For students and supporting information for school subjects browse through http://www.ipl.org/div/kidspace/
JSTOR is a searchable archive of hundreds of scientific and academic journals. Generally, you would need to subscribe to this service in order to access the articles themselves, but you can search the archive without paying anything at all. Once you've found an article or articles that could be helpful, check with your local public library. Many libraries pay for a JSTOR subscription that any patron can use on-site, and if that's the case you can read and print articles for free.
Edward Furey is owner of Southborough Website Design, LLC in Southborough, MA and at http://www.southboroughwebsitedesign.com/ and author/ developer of Make It Solar Science Fair Projects at http://www.makeitsolar.com/.
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