If you're looking for a way to enrich your child's science education, these great sites offer a bevy of activities you can do on your own, interactive simulations and great information. Turn on your computer, turn off the television, and release your inner mad scientist.
Science to Try
Looking for something to do on a rainy day? These great sites have clear explanations featuring experiments that use materials that are easy to find. A bonus is if yours doesn't turn out quite right, you can watch what is supposed to happen.
Kids Try Science
Kids Try Science is a science experiment portal featuring a culling of experiments around the web. What's nice is it has a companion teacher site with lesson plans and strategies that align with the Next Generation Science Standards. The site is organized into subcategories, such as biology, chemistry, medicine, or engineering. In each subcategory, you will see several experiments culled from various sites like the Chicago Botanical Gardens or Explore@Bristol. The site is available in several different languages and has the backing of heavyweights like the New York Hall of Science and IBM.
Lawrence Hall of Science
The Lawrence Hall of Science sits in Berkeley, California. The website features a growing collection of experiments to try, as well as games to increase science knowledge and FOSSWeb activities, which are simulations where students can learn things like the physics of a roller coaster, or what it looks like inside an ant colony. The site is best suited for elemntary aged students who can read well. With that said, a younger curious tot whose parents are willing to give a little assistance will definitely enjoy the site, as well. One of the site's major funders is the National Science Foundation, and it has won Common Sense Media's On for Learning award.
Science Buddies is a website dedicated to the almighty science fair. Geared for kids from kindergarten all the way through high school, the site boasts over one thousand projects - all of which are in a searchable database and come complete with lesson plans, videos, supply lists, and anything else you can think of. Projects cover every conceivable science topic, and most will give you variations or things to try to make it more challenging. In addition, they have an Ask the Expert section, a section on careers, and a separate section for students who want to participate in a science competition. The site has won several awards, including the National Science Teacher's Association SciLinks and the Science prize for online resources in education.
Whether your kid is curious or just has something to look up, these sites are great at handing out knowledge in heaps.
DKfindout! is like an online encyclopedia geared towards sixth grade and up. The website has both a search bar and pictures for various sub-topics. Clicking on any picture will either bring up more subtopics or an explanation of your final subtopic choice. Kids have the option of taking a quiz, searching or using pictures to find the information they're looking for. If you search, the website will show you all the articles it has that match your term. The search is more effective with shorter words. For example, it's better to search for 'magnets' than 'how to make an engine out of a magnet.' The site is great for the lower elementary-aged set because, like the DK books, very visual with short snippets rather than lengthy verbiage. DK findout! is a family of websites that also includes sites for specific science subjects like space, dinosaurs, animals and nature, earth and the human body. The site is relatively new, but Brand Republic Digital Awards is already raving about it.
National Geographic Kids
There's a lot to love about National Geographic Kids. Sponsored by none other than National Geographic, the website is a kid-friendly version of the magazine. The site is geared towards upper elementary, however, young kids who are into nature and conservation will benefit. It's great for middle school research, as well. The site is laid out similarly to its magazines, save for the addition of videos, where you can navigate to fun facts, games, quizzes, interesting articles and of coruse, the ever interesting poll. The site is incredibly well-organized, and if you want to delve more deeply into a specific animal, you can click on an image (towards the bottom of the main page), and you'll have a bevy of resources on that category. To take full advantage of the site, make sure you check out My Shot for the photos and Badge Zone - a place to earn digital badges. National Geographic doesn't really need any additional accolades, but in case you remain unconvinced, they won the 2015 People's Voice Webby Award.
Almost any site geared towards kids is at least a little interactive. However, these sites offer games, simulations, and other activities to teach kids science.
Ology is American Museum of Natural History's corner of the internet universe. There are videos, games, hands-on experiments, and stories that weave scientific knowledge into fun cartoons. In all, there are 14 different topics on the site, ranging from dinosaurs to genetics to physics - and everything in between! One fun aspect of the site that makes it unique is you can make an account and collect Ology cards. They are factoid cards hidden throughout the site that dig deeper into a specific realm. The site has won numerous awards, including two Teacher's Choice Awards. This is a great option for upper elementary through tweens.
Journey North is a citizen's science project for the study of migration and seasonal change. Every project on the site has to do with migration, and your kids have the opportunity to join a global data tracking effort. Projects range from tulip planting - where students plant tulips and then record their change from week to week, to whale migration where students can report a sighting. The site is robust with resources so whichever project you choose, there is plenty to help guide and teach along the way. The site is part of the Annenberg Learner collection of resources. It won a Webby Award in 1999 for being the top education site on the web, and now it has even more to offer. Because of the citizens' science aspect, the site is best for fourth grade and up.
Wonderville is a game-type site that puts kids in 'real life' situations where they have to use scientific knowledge to solve problems. The site, which is sponsored by MindFuel, boasts over 200 games and activities, as well as a teacher resource section to help educators use the site in class. The games provide help along the way if you get stuck, as well as a background guide before you start. Games cover all areas of science. Wonderville has won serious awards including a Webby Award, an Academic's Choice Smart Media Award Winner, and an Excellence in Science and Technology award. This site would appeal to any kid in elementary school; however, kids with some background knowledge on the topics will enjoy the games more, making it ideal for second grade and up.
Whether your sixth grader has homework or your first grader is curious about how volcanoes work, learning science online is a great way to get the job done. Earn badges, engage in citizen science, and do projects to meet those next generation science standards and have fun while doing it.