Teachers using a flipped approach can have students read the site’s kid-friendly content before in-class activities. For example, kids could read “Layers of the Earth” prior to building clay planet models during class. In a related unit, the site’s “Volcanoes” content could be used, as one of several information sources. Kids could then work in jigsaw groups to compare details and explanations. With this upper-elementary and middle school audience, teachers will probably want to provide students with note-taking guidelines or recording sheets. The astronomy content provides similar possibilities.
When studying plants, teachers could set up in-class stations: Some students can use the site to learn or review monocots and dicots, others can practice using the site's “Petal Pusher” resource. Yet another group could then observe or dissect plant specimens for hands-on practice. Or, for an inquiry approach, students could start by exploring plants of the two types and listing noticeable differences, then using the website to gather information.Continue reading Show less
Science Monster makes an immediate impression with white and neon print over its black screen. There are no accounts or logins; simply click on one of the main categories (Earth, life, or physical science; astronomy; technology) to access content. Some sections have just one topic, while others –- like astronomy –- offer more. Helpfully, longer content entries have numbered screen pages.
Though the graphics are zany, the site is text-heavy -- basically, an online textbook. The language here is casual and kid-friendly, with a conversational feel. The Earth Science section offers online quizzes, and each section has one or more rather unpolished games or applets. Some of these support the content (“Petal Pusher” for monocots and dicots), but others don't. Specifically, the Astronomy section's applets contain far more minutiae than appropriate for the site's age group.
While Science Monster has its share of limitations, this site does offer something valuable: kid-friendly science text. Students can learn or review actual science content with decent explanations and usable analogies; this holds especially true within the Earth Science section. Within the Physical Science section, the description of gravity may give some teachers pause. In general, though, the content isn't problematic, and it's written in a way kids will understand. The site’s limited scope could also be an advantage; it won’t overwhelm students.
Interactive diagrams, more online quizzes, pop-up vocabulary, and tips for in-class or at-home activities would all make nice additions to the site. The games, too, could be improved by connecting them more specifically to content. And teachers would love to have worksheets and graphic organizers to accompany the site's applets. Without these features, though, Science Monster may be only marginally useful.
Key Standards Supported
Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
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