Where can 8- to 10- year-olds go to do research on the Internet?
April 3, 2012 7:55 PM   Subscribe

If you were giving a presentation to a group of 3rd and 4th graders (ages 8-10) on how to do research for school projects on the internet, what would you tell them? Where would you point them?

[I am giving just such a presentation. Hope me!]

I'd be interested to know, for example, if there's a good kids' encyclopedia online. Also, if there are news sites or aggregators aimed at kids, or overviews of world events. Kids' sites focusing on the environment and/or ecology would also be good. Are there sites that make it easy for kids to connect to scientists or other expert adults with their questions? Any and all suggestions welcome. Thanks in advance!
posted by slappy_pinchbottom to Education (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Even though they are high school librarians, I would look to the work of Joyce Valenza and Buffy Hamilton, both do great work around information literacy, research skills and the internet.

Most of the best online encyclopedias are fee based.

Sweet Search is a good place to start for searching for kids:
Sweet Search 4 me is aimed at younger kids.

American Library Association has a good web page of resources- all the sites have been reviewed by librarians:
Their Science Page

And depending on where you live, your public library might make available to you their online databases and resources.

You might also want to look up libguides or live binders and see if anyone has a relevant guide.
posted by momochan at 8:29 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus/ is a good site to use to demonstrate that not everything you can find on the Internet is true, no matter how legit it may look.
posted by naturalog at 8:45 PM on April 3, 2012

Find an example of a site that looks legit, but which has really questionable information. Someone showed me something like that in a similar presentation when I was about that age (might've been a holocaust denier website), and it really made an impression on me in terms of the whole don't-believe-everything-you-read thing.
posted by sparrow89 at 8:56 PM on April 3, 2012

I would tell them that to begin research, Wikipedia is a good place to START. It will give you the big idea, and then to get into more detail you can look at the articles and sources the Wikipedia page references.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 9:07 PM on April 3, 2012

Emphasize the importance of citation and academic honesty, and encourage them to keep track of their sources as they go!
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 9:10 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Depends on how much time you have. If you've got an extra week, I'd do a lesson on information literacy. Common Sense Media has some good stuff.

If not, I'd probably put together a curated list of sites w. live links and direct the kids to start there.
posted by smirkette at 9:12 PM on April 3, 2012

Also, if there are news sites or aggregators aimed at kids, or overviews of world events.

Behind the News produces excellent coverage of world news and global issues, pitched at primary school-aged children. It's an Australian show, and some of it is local news, but there's a lot there that is universal. Newsround is the British equivalent.
posted by robcorr at 12:55 AM on April 4, 2012

High school teacher here. Starting in grade school, we teach all our kids how to use EasyBib so they learn how to make accurate bibliographies as they research. Otherwise, their inclination is to write Google as their source. There are other online bibliography makers as well and many districts buy licenses for them, so I'd check into that.

Seconding that some districts only let kids research through their own online databases.

Lastly, I know many teachers who won't accept Wikipedia as a source because they don't trust it. So see if that's the case where you'll be.

This is great that you're doing this. Most teachers can tell you that we have all too many students who just go to either Wikipedia or the first hit they get on Google and think they're done, and their work is a mile wide and an inch deep.

Oh yeah, they also have a tendency to completely cut and paste web material and use it as their own. We don't like that, either.
posted by kinetic at 2:29 AM on April 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

Teach them about the Pacific Tree Octopus.

I think the online databases that public libraries buy into are a VASTLY underused resource. Typically, you don't have to go to the library to use them -- you can access them from home by logging in with your library card. We have a ton of children's encyclopedias, biographical resources, magazines, etc.

I'm a librarian. One time recently I was helping a kid with some computer stuff, when he proclaimed that it was going to be "too much work" to retype the Wikipedia page he was plagiarizing. Kids need to know exactly what "in your own words" means.
posted by Jeanne at 3:42 AM on April 4, 2012

About a month or so ago I read that only about 1 in 9 or 10 people uses Ctrl-F (aka Option-F) to search for words within web pages. Doing so apparently makes that 1 person some 40% more efficient at finding information on the web.

I would teach them to use that key combo.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:44 PM on April 4, 2012

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