The school year is fast approaching, and students can always use extra help to excel.
Good thing the Web is crammed with resources for students of all ages. These will help kids and teens grasp tough topics, find and organize information, manage their time better, cope with technology and even shop wisely.
America Online has launched its student-focused StudyBuddy.com search engine (www.studybuddy.com
) with homework help that can be customized according to grade, ranging from kindergarten to 12th. It culls content from such sources as the World Book encyclopedia, the National Wildlife Federation, the Princeton Review and the CIA World Fact Book. It also has summaries and study guides for 500 of the books most often used in the K-12 world.
For a $5 monthly fee, students also can get access to AOL Learning Services with help in reading, writing, science math and more.
The World Book site (www.worldbook.com
) has every listing in the 22-volume print edition, plus 8,000 additional articles along with pictures, maps, videos, animations, 360-degree panoramas, pronunciations and editor-approved Web links. A recently updated Student Activity section offers trivia quizzes, nature studies, science projects, recipes and more. The site isn't free; access is available at daily, monthly and yearly rates.
If math is scary, the Math MovesU site (www.math movesu.com
) will help. Geared for kids in grades six through eight, it features celebrities such as BMX biker Dave Mirra and the math equations he uses to land high-flying jumps.
Mediasite.com (www. mediasite.com
) archives lectures and other videos featuring experts in a dizzying range of fields, all in a searchable database — perfect for multimedia-hip students working on papers or digital presentations.
Answers.com, which bills itself as the world's greatest "encyclodictionalmanacapedia," has unveiled a back-to-school resource center at www. answers.com/back-to-school. In a similar vein, the About.com back-to-school page is full of advice on homework, school gear and fashions, among other kid-type topics (http://backtoschool.about.com
Teen and preteen girls can use My Pop Studio (www.mypopstudio.com
) to think a bit more critically about the media messages that bombard them. This federally funded site helps them explore the world of magazines, television studios, pop stars and digital media — with lots of life lessons along the way.
Lots of search-engine toolbars for the Internet Explorer browser are available, but students may find Advanced Searchbar (www.advanced searchbar.com
) especially useful. It's a one-stop shop for info from newspapers, medical sites, dictionaries, homework helpers and much more.
Kaboodle.com (www. kaboodle.com
) lets students assemble multiple Web sites on one page to share with others. Such collections, on topics including architecture, Muslim feminism and the Nuremberg trials, are available online and serve as jumping-off points for further research. (Kids can create personal collections reflecting their interests, too.)
The Clusty search engine (www.clusty.com
) works on a similar principle, clustering search results into categories for easier reference. The home page has themed tabs, including a "Ben" tab focused on all things Benjamin Franklin.
If back-to-school shopping has you all dazed and confused, GPShopper (www.gpshopper. com
) can help. Aim your data-capable mobile phone at its Slifter search engine (www.slifter.com
), or enter your number on the Slifter site to get pointed in the right direction. Then, enter a product (be specific) along with a ZIP code. GPShopper will get back with price and store info (including phones, addresses and directions). You can shop with Slifter on your PC, as well.
Kid need tutoring? A range of Internet-accessible services provide help. Check TutorVista (www.tutorvista.com) and StudyLoft (www.studyloft. com).
If your child is colorblind, EyePilot software (www. colorhelper.com
) for Windows or Macintosh helps make Web sites easier to grasp. Images or pages that have been transformed by any of the EyePilot tools can be printed or saved in a variety of file formats from within the program.
What are the best sites for college students? CNET has 'em (http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-11524_7-6559075-1.html
And don't forget about the famous Wikipedia online encyclopedia (www.wikipedia.org
). It's vast, but users must treat its information with caution. Because most entries can be edited by anyone, anytime, all Wikipedia data must be verified before being used in student papers or other homework.
Julio Ojeda-Zapata can be reached at jojeda@pioneerpress. com or 651-228-5467. For more personal technology on the Web or via RSS, go to TwinCities.com and click "Business," then "Personal Tech."
TutorVista's mission is to provide world class tutoring and high-quality content to students around the world. TutorVista is the premier online destination for affordable education-anytime, anywhere, in any subject. Students access TutorVista from the convenience of their home or in school and use TutorVista's comprehensive lessons and question bank to master any subject with access to a live tutor around the clock. The TutorVista idea: help students to excel in school and at competitive examinations. The management team consists of professionals from education, training and Internet fields whose expertise spans eLearning, instructional design, technology-based learning, professional services management, and Internet technologies. For more information, go to www.tutorvista.com