Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A TOS Review: Surfing the Net Science






I hate to brag, but I have a superpower. I am an AWESOME researcher. In college, my favorite papers were those that required me to spend hours upon hours in the library surrounded by post-it-notes and index cards.

In our house the encyclopedias had a place of honor. I don’t even think Josiah knows what an encyclopedia is. He does, however, know how to research his favorite football player and look for youtube videos that demonstrate how to beat a level on his favorite video game. I’ve come to realize that along with teaching Josiah the three “R’s” I also need to be showing him the finer points of research. Of course, now-a-days a body can find anything and everything online. I recently had the chance to review Surfing the Net: Science from The Critical Thinking Co. This wound up being a terrific resource to accomplish my goals.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to review World History Detective I from The Critical Thinking Co. I knew I could expect an excellent product this time around. I wasn’t disappointed.

I got the physical copy (in paperback form) of Surfing the Net: Science.  It also is available as an ebook. It is intended to be used for grades 3-6. As you might know, Josiah is in 8th grade, but he is dyslexic and I figured it would be a good fit for him.

Basically, Surfing the Net: Science is a interactive workbook. Inside its pages are challenges and activities that not only teach science, but assist in helping teach them those internet research skills. The activities vary…the student might watch a video, look for keywords, play an online game or read an article.

The subjects don’t build on each other so it can be a wonderful supplemental resource to be used with whatever science subject strikes your student’s fancy.

These subjects include:

Animals
Atmosphere
Ecosystems and Habitats
Energy
Geology
Plants
Space

I started my review by letting Josiah decide what he would like to learn about first. I thought he was going to choose the Atmosphere unit, but “surprise, surprise” he chose Space.

I assisted Josiah as he worked through the lessons. The “key word” activities can be specifically daunting for a kiddo with dyslexia. There are generally so many sites that pop up and we walked through each lesson together. I was able to show him what kinds of sites to look for…reputable, easy to read and navigate.

Just a little aside. I haven’t wrote a research paper in years, but when internet research was a brand new thing at the time. We weren’t allowed to use internet sites as “cited sources” because “anybody can put anything on the internet" (including 40- something hillbillies)

I still think it’s important to “consider the source” and I LOVED that Surfing the Net provided me so many teachable opportunities.


Be prepared to spend a little time with each lesson. Josiah enjoyed following a few rabbit trails along the way.

The Space Unit had Josiah do a variety of activities. He began by listing the planets and answering questions using "key words." We got to get into the whole "Pluto is not a planet" thing (I'm still bitter). He watched videos from NASA and 



 Surfing the Net: Science is really a lot of fun. We had a good time sitting around the table discovering interesting and important facts about the sun, constellations and even the Cold War Space Race. 


What more does a guy need than a good snack and something to watch?


In the mammal lesson, Josiah used his estimating skills while guessing the weights of a blue whale, camel and a raccoon. He then wanted to find out who much the "megladon shark" in comparison to the blue whale. I told you, rabbit trails.


Another fun activity gave him a web address to search for mammals and list their unique characteristics. The web address didn't quite take us there, but we managed. I'm not sure what happened. It could have been our mad web browsing skills.

I don't know if you can read it, but under Mammal 2 Josiah wrote down a Dolphin as his mammal. He wrote "Miami" above Dolphin. His other two mammals were "Buffalo" and "Lions"....Is it coincidence that these are also sports teams? I think not.


I have to tell you that I LOVE using this product. We have had so much fun! It just has so many wonderful things to like about it. Not only is Josiah learning to research and explore via the web, but he is learning more about science in a truly interactive way. 

This is one we are going to keep on using. I find it fits into our school day nicely. 

The Critical Thinking Co. has many other great products available. I hope they come out with more Surfing the Net titles. 









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