Review by Jenny Bristol, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2019

Twig Science Reporter

Topical science news site offers sparse but high-quality resources

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Skills
  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
K–5
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Pros: Solid, free content; timely news stories; multiple ways to learn.

Cons: No search capability and not a lot of depth in articles.

Bottom Line: It's an easy-to-recommend resource for adding timely science news stories and light science lessons to the classroom, but look elsewhere for depth.

The Twig Science Reporter website has useful science-based material for any elementary science class. Teachers can browse their offerings for videos, photos, text, or activity resources that match upcoming lessons. Each resource includes curriculum keywords to help you plan and intriguing discussion questions to facilitate learning in the classroom. The site is a decent place to find interesting photos or videos to supplement your lessons, or find an activity that helps to drive a lesson home. One of its strengths is offering topical news stories that help you connect science learning with what's going on in the world today.

News Updates include a guide for students to make their own science news update, which would be a fun assignment for small groups. They can then each present their news update -- including stories, photos, videos, and other findings -- to the class. Or, for a shorter activity, have students each pick a science-based topic, researching five facts about it, to make their own Fact Pack. Combine the Packs into a book and make copies for each student.

The site doesn't include a search capability, so consider searching for what you need directly from Google, narrowing your search to just the site (i.e., type in "site:twigsciencereporter.com " and then your search terms).

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Twig Science Reporter is a free science resource website for elementary-aged students. Along with a library of articles, videos (with a transcript option), photos, and facts, the site includes News Updates that cover timely science-based news and events with links to relevant external sites. Subjects covered include animals, human biology, geology, weather, dinosaurs, astronomy, green energy, and plants. Resources include learning objectives, discussion questions, multimedia learning opportunities, and more; some also include activities and scientific investigations that can be printed and done in class. New content is added regularly.

Students and teachers can browse the site, but there's no search option, and resources aren't organized by topic. There's no way to click on a curriculum keyword, for example, to find all the resources on that topic. 

Twig Science Reporter is designed to both offer a basic introduction to many scientific topics and keep students learning about new developments in science fields, helping them connect the two through news stories, activities, and class discussion. Each resource includes learning objectives, discussion questions, and a glossary, if needed. An engaged teacher can make the most of what's available here, and then keep it going with in-class discussion, activities, and experiments. The site is also good for homeschool families, or even for perusal by curious students.

Exploration would be easier with search capability and/or a better-organized site, however. Also, the site is fairly light on content and depth, so it would be best paired with other resources and lesson plan components.

Overall Rating

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

Timely science news stories keep learning fresh, and a decent breadth of science topics are covered on the site. The lack of a search field makes it ideal for students and teachers who like to browse.

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

Students learn about science through news stories, photos, videos, text, directed class discussion, and activities, but teachers will need to supplement the offerings for a full lesson.

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

Videos come with transcript options, and offerings include plenty of discussion topics. A search field and categorical links would improve site functionality considerably, however.


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