Review by Emily Pohlonski, Common Sense Education | Updated May 2013

Science News for Kids

Cool STEM articles make for fun, informative reading

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Teachers say (8 Reviews)
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Grades
3-8 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: The interesting and age-appropriate articles get kids reading about science.

Cons: It may take some digging to find readings that line up with your curriculum.

Bottom Line: Science News for Students articles are free, fascinating, and easy to read.

Teachers can use the site as in-class reading material to supplement units in science, math, and language arts. The readings are streamlined, age-appropriate versions of articles on the adult Science News site and provide helpful tools for tackling the task of reading scientific texts. The Going Deeper link for each article takes students to a related article on the companion Science News site with more detailed information. Kids can also use the simpler readings on Science News for Students as support articles to build their basic understanding before moving on to more complex text of the same topic. If you scroll to the bottom of the articles, many of them contain “Power Words” and their definitions. Reviewing the words in advance can help kids better understand the text. Some articles also contain questions for kids to answer while reading.

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Science News for Students has engaging science news stories appropriate for elementary and middle school readers. It's the kids' version of the Science News magazine site by the Society for Science & the Public. The site can be a great source for kids who need practice analyzing and citing scientific text. Kids will find the topics interesting and relevant, from American cannibalism to predicting tsunamis. Readings are organized by science topic: Atoms & Forces, Earth & Sky, Human & Health, Life, and Technology & Math.  

Science News for Students has support resources and extension activities to help teachers use the articles in their classrooms. Information is also available for those who want to follow or get involved in youth science and math competitions, including Intel Science Talent Search, Intel Science and Engineering Fair, and the Broadcom MASTERS. Reading articles about past winners may inspire the budding scientist in your home or classroom. 

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Readings help kids think about complex scientific problems -- from how we calculate the age of the universe to how to build a better battery. Kids can also see examples of student research and learn tips on how to start their own research projects. Power Words at the bottom of each article give kids a tool to attack complex text and make sense of it. They can analyze scientific reading using questions provided and cite evidence from the article in their answers. 

Science News for Students highlights news stories on the world’s leading youth math and science competitions. The resources provided to help kids with science fair projects can be useful for kids designing classroom experiments, too. The Science News for Students Competition portion is less organized, making it difficult to find what you need. The site would be improved if teachers could search by science standards to find related articles.

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
3

Articles are up to date and address fun topics that will intrigue kids, such as cool science jobs and cannibalism.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Kids can use the site’s articles to analyze and cite scientific text.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

Info on student math and science competitions could inspire further research and learning. However, the extensions and resources section for kids is pretty limited.


Common Sense Reviewer
Emily Pohlonski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Janet R. , Press
Press
4
Info on this site is misleading and out of date

Whoever wrote the initial description of the site erred. It is NOT for elementary school students. It's clearly aimed at those 12 and above. The lexile scores fall smack in the middle of the 6th to 8th grade level. Also keep in mind, this is not an "educational" site, but a news magazine. So it provides information, not curricular material. The description said people might like to search by standards--which is precisely why the site offers NGSS codes for its stories. And they are searchable. There are also glossary terms with every story to reinforce reading comprehension. "Further Readings" accompany the stories too--pointing to many other age-appropriate materials. For the past 3-4 years, cites to original sources of the news (ie journal papers or meeting abstracts) accompany the stories so that classrooms can compare the story to the raw data as presented by the researchers. Questions to catalyze classroom discussions accompany feature stories (and are now identified with a pencil icon in the upper right of a story's opening image). These, too, are searchable. Collections of topical stories exist to allow students to delve into an issue in great depth. A blog series called "Scientists Say" offers a term of the week--to build vocabularies. It includes a definition of the term, uses the term in a sentence and offers an audio file so that students can hear how the term is pronounced. Another new blog, "Analyze This!" offers data (graphs, charts, tables or other collections) from which students can scout for trends. This blog builds data literacy, something that teachers have begged for. The "Eureka! Lab" blog and video series show students how to do research--and do it right (from hypothesis generation and experimental design through statistical analysis of data and its publication). All in all, the site offers timely, award-winning journalism, interspersed with auxiliary materials that can aid in classroom discussions. AND it's free to everyone the world over. Yes, I'm a booster. I'm also the editor. We've worked hard to offer something available nowhere else. And for the past five years, teachers have been telling us we are succeeding, and ever stronger. But please, do NOT describe this as a site for elementary school kids. We cover quantum physics, cognitive neuroscience, plate tectonics, epigenetics and more--without dumbing these down. But we assume our target reader is at least 12-13 years old. That said, high school teachers (even in math/science magnet programs) have raved about the accessibility of the stories on our site. It encourages students to struggle with wrapping their heads around the emerging science, not the vocabulary used to describe it.

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