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HOMEWORK HELPERS ON THE INTERNET................... Back to HOM
WHERE DO WE START?
One of the first--and still one of the best--overall sites that indexes helpful Web pages by subject is B. J. Pinchbeck's Homework Helper (see "Sites and Software" for all Internet links). B.J.'s site has some genuine street cred--he's a kid himself! With help from his dad, B.J. has assembled links to more than 625 educational and entertaining sites organized into topics, each link with a brief summary of the corresponding site's merits by the 13-year-old homework king himself.
EEK! IT'S MATH!
Math problems are probably the hardest for parents to assist their kids with, which is why it's nice that The Math Forum Student Center is perhaps the best single-topic help site on the Internet. Here you'll find pages devoted to helping you solve nearly any math problem, from elementary school right on up through graduate-level work. One of the most useful areas here is Math Tips & Tricks, which explains dozens of simple rules for doing complex math. These kinds of shortcuts, in fact, along with the puzzles and math facts found here, might even be enough to turn a math-hater into a math-lover. Another great feature is the Ask Dr. Math section, a searchable database of questions submitted by teachers and students with answers provided by very patient math experts.
GO ASK YOUR GRAMMAR!
Even some professional writers, ahem, aren't always sure what a prepositional phrase looks like. So it's hard to expect a kid to keep all that stuff straight. For them (and us!), several sites come to the rescue. Our favorite is Exploring English, a straightforward, kid-friendly guide to all things grammatical. Here you'll find diagrams showing the parts of speech, a rundown of types of sentences (remember compound complex sentences?), and all those other picky things English teachers insist we all memorize at least once.
MAD ABOUT SCIENCE
Since the Internet was created by geeks, it's no surprise that it's loaded with science sites. And since the topic is so vast, your best bet for finding help with a specific problem or question is to browse through one of the general directories such as B.J. Pinchbeck's Homework Helper. If, however, you'd just like to have some brain-powered fun, head straight to Reeko's Mad Scientist Lab. Here you'll find instructions on building miniature hovercrafts, working volcanoes and many more irresistible home experiments, plus answers to such eternal questions as "Do cats have belly buttons?"In the real world, we take kids to science museums to learn about the subject. Now two of the best such museums in the country have Web sites to match. Philadelphia's Franklin Institute has excellent online exhibits as well as a nice selection of simple, grade-rated experiments kids can do at home. San Francisco's Exploratorium boasts a collection of Science Snacks (their term for quick experiments), of which most kids won't be able to eat, so to speak, just one.
Anyone seeking info on the solar system need look no further than The Nine Planets. Kids can take an overall multimedia tour of the planets (with sound, images and movies), or zoom in on a particular subject. For an outstanding introduction to chemistry, try Chem4Kids. Simple language, clear and fun illustrations and a great sense of humor make for the best chemistry lessons we've ever seen. Lastly, check out every kid's favorite science subject, dinosaurs, at Zoom Dinosaurs, an online interactive textbook on the terrible lizards.
THE STUFF OF HISTORY
The study of people, their cultures and histories, and the places they live is, like science, a vast field, and the Internet has opened up some amazing new ways to explore it. For starters, students can now instantly access English-language newspapers, magazines and television stations from all over the world--10,000 of them, in factby visiting NewsDirectory.com. And if you'd like to see a map of the place you're interested in, there's no better place than Atlapedia, an online atlas beefed up with excellent text briefs on every country. The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, hosted by the University of Texas in Austin, also has modern maps of every countryplus dozens of cities worldwidemany produced by the United States government, so kids can download and use them for free. But the real gems here are in its vast collection of special interest maps: maps from old encyclopedias, maps showing the distribution of Native American tribes before settlers arrived, exploration and settlement maps, maps of historic sites and battlefields and more.
For history help, we like to visit HyperHistory Online, which contains an interactive time line--parts of which can be clicked for further information--to show the progress (or lack thereof) of civilization over the past 3,000 years. Older kids writing American history reports will want to check out the Internet Public Library's Presidents of the United States, which summarizes the essential decisions and events of every president's term, provides links to online biographies and gives the full text of memorable speeches.
FOR SAVVY STUDENTS ONLY
Besides the myriad of Web sites on the subjects that kids study, there are a couple of sites covering perhaps the most important topic of all: how to study.
SITES & SOFTWARE
Ask Dr. Math