Each year at this time, I pick five sites that best show off the Web's ability to teach us something new. As always, choosing just five sites was tough. I like the following sites because of the range of their educational content: history, science, literature, health, and current events. Wishing you a safe and happy New Year, full of educational opportunities.
The History Channel brings us not just one generic This Day in History, but nine topical ones on subjects as diverse as Automotive History, Civil War History, Crime History, Literary History, Technology History and Wall Street History. From the entry page, you can browse the files by any date (such as your birthday) to learn of important headlines and birthdays throughout the centuries. I learned that I share a birthday with Tony Curtis (of Hollywood fame) and Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederate States of America, 1861- 1865.)
The imaginary Kapili Islands are home to a variety of research labs which produce the wonderfully educational Kapili.com. Great illustrations and a breezy writing style make this site a winner for middle and high school students as well as us older learners. After cells, check out the Topic List for more biology (biochemistry and ecology,) physics, chemistry and astronomy.
With artwork by Quentin Blake, the Official Roald Dahl Web Site is both familiar and unexpected much like a Dahl novel. With so many treasures, I can't list them all, but highlights are Treats (for games and quizzes); The Man (for audio interviews); and Tips for Teachers. I was intrigued by the audio snippets of music based on Dahl's rhymes and stories. Look for them on the last page of Music & the Foundation, which is listed under The Roald Dahl Foundation.
The more you learn about the science of tobacco, the less likely you are to smoke. Florida State University has created an incredibly rich resource for students and teachers. Start with an exploration of What is Science? and then move to Tobacco & You. Best clicks for students are How Does Tobacco Affect Your Body? and Adsmart (learn to be an educated consumer.) Best clicks for teachers are the Student & Teacher Guidebook (in Adobe Acrobat format) and the winning teacher/student entries from the Best Practices 2001 competition.
Time for Kids covers tough issues such as the war on terrorism, along with sports, fun features and challenging games. Time for Kids can be navigated from the front page, the pop-up scrolling news headlines, or through the grade-sorted archive of the three English and two Spanish editions. Best bet games for learning include Famous Face Offs (match the newsmakers' names with their head shots) and Trivia Time Machine (finish famous headlines from the twentieth century.)