I've been reviewing educational websites for eight years. Over that span of time, finding good topics to write about has gotten much easier, since the entire Web has grown so much. But true quality, in both content and design, is still rare; and I still get the same thrill when I do discover it. These five sites are my favorites from the Surfnetkids crop of 2004.
"Every veteran has his or her own war, and each is custodian of a unique story and memories. At the Veterans History Project, we treasure the personal narratives sent to us by veterans from all wars. Vivid as if they happened yesterday, these heartfelt accounts make us laugh, cry and remember." The stories at this Library of Congress site are amazing but better yet you can interview a family member, and add their story to the collection. The participation page is chock full of interviewing tips and sample questions. Stories can be submitted online or via a printed form.
Laid out in a timeline from first pyramid to last, this National Geographic site makes excellent use of multimedia to explore the pyramids individually, and place them within historical context. When visiting each pyramid page, place your mouse over the photo of the pyramid to view a diagram of its internal structure. Most of the eight featured pyramids also have additional photos available on the Images button in the upper right-hand corner.
Created on behalf of Earhart's family, this official site is excellent in content, design, and navigation. Of course there is an Earhart biography, but don't stop there. Other highlights include a nice collection of quotes ("Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace." ), a photo gallery, and screensavers and wallpaper (listed under Downloads.)
This fabulous site from Scholastic has something for everyone, whether you are a teacher or a student in grades one through eight. Begin with All About Dolphins, where your host, research biologist Dan Odell, introduces the topic by answering some basic dolphin questions. Next try your hand at the Cetacean Relations Game. Cetaceans are the order of marine mammals that includes all whales, dolphins and porpoises. With all this under your belt, now you are ready to join the virtual field trip (Dolphin Watch) to study bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida.
This page from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is a favorite because it includes the arty multimedia Van Gogh & Gauguin exhibit (it's not sequential, so just click around and enjoy), a nice selection of van Gogh e-cards, and an amazing 3D tour of the permanent museum collection. Unfortunately the 3D tour requires a unique Windows plugin (yes, I hated this part too) but the resulting tour is worth it. Walking around the museum (and chatting with other visitors), I felt as if I was inside a video game.