I've visited nearly three thousand Web sites this year. Of those, only 255 were included in my weekly column. Today, by listing my five favorites of 1998, I'm joining the ranks of many who try to condense the entire year into a single list. What do these five great sites have in common? Interaction with their audience, be it a person-to-person game (Playsite), a computer-to-person game (Garbage) or a guest book filled with World War II memories (WWII An American Scrapbook). Happy New Year!
"If your habits resemble those of average Americans, you contributed 1,570 pounds of solid trash, 23 tons of hazardous waste, and 3,613 pounds of sewage to the world's waste this past year." Twenty-three tons of hazardous waste? That's 126 pounds of hazardous waste a day. Amazed? Find out which household items need special disposal (and which can be tossed in your regular trash) in the informative, interactive Hazardous Waste quiz. Or try your hand at solving the problem of an overflowing landfill. In the Shrinking a Landfill exercise (on the Global Efforts page), your goal is to reduce waste by 10 percent with a budget of $50,000. Can you do it?
Play against human opponents at this Java game site with chat. Playsite includes rooms for checkers, chess, backgammon, and more. You can play as a guest, but registered users (registration is free) get a rating that increases or decreases with play. Remember, the games include chat, so appropriate parent supervision is recommended. My son and daughter really enjoy the scrambled word game, Tangleword. It is fast, addictive, and you compete against many players at once.
Would anyone mind if I gave this site six stars? From The Tech Museum of Innovation, comes this beyond-wow introduction to satellites, suitable for all ages. After you've learned the what, why and how of man-made satellites, the don't-miss-it click is the Java-based Satellite Construction Set. First, choose a mission for your satellite. Will it be direct broadcast television, remote sensing or scientific research? Then correctly install each of five subsystems (from a list of eight) by clicking and dragging them into place.
As this fifth-grade team was searching for a topic for their ThinkQuest Jr. Web site, they considered both the Civil War and World War II. Then they came to a realization. "We knew people who were part of the WWII experience... our own families. Our grandfathers and grandmothers all did their part to help win the war. Some were in the middle of it (check out Caitlin's and Kaycie's stories). Others were sacrificing in other ways at home (you can find out more about this in Ben's story). Our job was to find out what parts they played." Each student tells his family's story with words, pictures and audio clips. If your family has a WWII story to share, you are invited to add it to the guest book.