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Science Online

By Sally Finley - Posted Jul 1, 2007
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REPORT CARD
Overall Rating:5 Stars
Installation:A
Content/Features:A+
Ease of Use:A
Product Support:A

Located online at: www.fofweb.com/subscription.

Company: Facts On File, Inc., 132 W. 31st Street, 17th Floor, New York, NY 10001. Phone: (800) 322-8755; Email: custserv@factsonfile.com; Internet: www.factsonfile.com.

Price: $8 per student for a 1-year, renewable subscription. Volume discount pricing is available. A 6-month subscription is offered for parents and home-schoolers. A free trial is available online.

Audience: Grades 6–12.

Format: Text, graphics, and photographs.

Minimum System Requirements: A Windows or Macintosh computer with Internet access and an Internet browser. PC systems must have Internet Explorer 6.0, Netscape 6.0, or Firefox 1.0.3; Macintosh computers require at least Safari 1.0.

Description: Science Online is a comprehensive subscription database providing an overview of science-related topics through definitions, essays, diagrams, illustrations, images, biographies, experiments, and activities.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation/Access: Registered users are required to enter a user ID and password to gain access. I experienced no difficulty with the site. Installation Rating: A

Content/Features: A recent redesign has brought new features to Science Online, including tabbed search results and new browse features, in-depth essays, a new section on mathematics, and new experiments, diagrams, and biographies.

The Science Online home page provides access points to content through a keyword search, subject exploration, or browsing by resource (diagrams, experiments, biographies, and timeline). Thumbnail views are provided in a gallery for easy access and may be enlarged or downloaded as PDF files for clear printing.

The content is organized by scientific discipline—biology, chemistry, computer science, earth science, environmental science, forensic science, mathematics, physics, space and astronomy, and weather and climate. A general overview precedes each in-depth essay. The content adheres to the National Science Standards.

A science dictionary defines key terms or complex concepts. An advanced search feature allows users to conduct complex searches.

Experiments and activities providing hands-on learning opportunities are accessed through the database’s Experiments link. These materials are organized by subject category, grade range, and time required.

Special features include an Editor’s Selection of the Month highlighting timely information. A Focus On feature provides an in-depth chapter-by-chapter overview of a selected topic.

The Page Tools feature offers the ability to save, print, or email material. A citation link makes it easy to cite information sources. Each entry includes related links and suggested searches.

A Further Information feature, locat-ed at the bottom of each entry, provides additional materials suggested by leading academics and professionals.

Classroom Applications

Research is always a major part of every middle and high school science program. One way to enhance research is to offer independent-study projects to interested students. After researching a topic, students can choose a project using criteria established by a teacher/student-designed rubric. The final product can be shared with the entire class in a presentation format of the student’s choosing.

Cooperative-learning groups can select a topic related to the class curriculum to explore. Each student in the group can become a resident expert, researching a specific area of information. The final project can be determined by the teacher or group and shared with an authentic audience.

Individual students could be assigned a specific topic and asked to prepare a poster or slideshow presentation based on information acquired during the research process.

Students can be asked to investigate an environmental concern in their own communities. After researching background information with Science Online, they can develop a plan of action to be presented to a governmental or city agency with their proposed solution. Solving real problems by producing real products for real-life audiences should be our educational goal if we are to challenge our secondary school learners in meaningful and worthwhile learning activities. Content/Features Rating: A+

Ease of Use: The site is attractively designed and easy to navigate. A menu bar provides easy access to the program features. Links to the Science Dictionary, Advanced Search, Search History, and Search Tips features appear at the top of each page. The Home link returns the user to the starting page. A Basic Search box on the home page provides quick and easy access to the comprehensive database. Ease of Use Rating: A

Product Support: Product support is available through the company’s toll-free telephone number or by email (support@factsonfile.com). An online Help page is available. Product Support Rating: A

Recommendation: Science Online is a refreshing solution to the problem of providing authentic and reliable information for students. With the vast array of information available on the Web, teachers face the daily challenge of ensuring that students are working on safe and reliable sites to find information for projects and reports. Science Online is an excellent tool that offers timely, accurate information taken from reliable sources in a variety of formats.

The search features are easy to use, allowing quick access to information in a variety of formats. My favorite is the gallery of images—many in full color with informative captions—that allow students to save, email, print, and change the size of the text. The ability to add an image to a report is a feature that definitely will attract students.

One of the most difficult parts of research is ensuring that students cite their sources. This program provides a quick and easy way to make that happen using on-screen citation links. This is one of my favorite features of this database.

The tabbed search results make finding information simple and quick. The site design is attractive, adding an element of fun and interest to the research process.

I like the site’s ability to offer constantly updated information in this ever-changing world. The biographies extend learning opportunities to the language arts area, providing students with the opportunity to read about famous scientists and their contributions.

I would definitely recommend this database as a valuable resource to supplement a school’s science program. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Sally Finley, Coral Springs, FL.


 
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