Last week, ThinkQuest Jr., a Web site building contest for grades four to six, announced twenty-eight winners (from more than three hundred entries) and awarded $500,000 in cash and computers. Details on entering next year's ThinkQuest Jr. (or the original ThinkQuest for twelve- to nineteen-year olds), can be found at ThinkQuest. You can view all the winners at ThinkQuest Jr. The following are just a few of my personal favorites.
"China is the world's oldest ongoing civilization. It is known for many beautiful forms of art - silk painting, pottery, paper cutting, kite making, and calligraphy. It was calligraphy that captured our imaginations because the words evolved from pictures." I enjoyed learning that there are many different styles of Chinese calligraphy, including seal, official, semi-cursive and cursive. And depending on whom you ask, there are either seven or thirty-two basic strokes. My favorite page is Drawing Instructions, where the pictographs are explained.
"Welcome to our project about Down syndrome. We decided to pick this topic because one of the members of our group - Elijah - has Down syndrome. We wanted to learn more about what causes it." In this compassionate look at Down syndrome, each student describes what they have learned from Elijah, and how their fear has been replaced with understanding.
"Eating out is an ancient practice. In Egypt around 512 B.C., a restaurant offered a single dish of wild fowl, cereal, and onions. Of course, restaurants have changed since 2,500 years ago! Today, there are over 500,000 fast food restaurants in the world." But what's in fast food? Is there healthy fast food? The truth is finally told. My two favorite pages are Advertisements ("offering things like kids' meals with toys from your favorite movie to lure you in") and the quiz titled Which Meal is Healthier?
What does it mean to be creative? How does one start? Right here, right now with the Footsome Brothers (yes, they are a pair of feet). Join the creative fun and learn to write an ode, recognize an idiom or explore the shoes of the future. The theme that ties it all together is feet. "Feet, oh feet, I simply cherish you, You help me in every thing that I do. Feet, oh feet, you enable me to run. When I lay down you take a break - have fun!" The fact that my Web site is listed as a resource in their reference section has nothing to do with why I liked this site. Really!
As this team was searching for a topic, 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.