Kids have always been hard-wired, metaphorically, for learning but with the advent of the Internet, today's kids are literally wired-to-learn. If given a research assignment in school when I was a kid, my first stop was the library, but as my kids have been growing up, they run immediately to the Internet and Google. They play video games, they chat with friends via instant messaging, they write their papers on the computer, and they surf the Web for both school topics and personal interest.
To help youth leaders capitalize on this now-natural proclivity of today's kids and teens, I'll be devoting my next couple columns to providing annotated listings of Web sites organized around various aspects of the rock-hounding hobby. Given my own interest in paleontology, I'll start with fossils. Future columns will cover minerals and earth resources, lapidary arts, and museums. Because kids especially like dinosaurs, I'll start with a couple sites specifically devoted to these "Terrible Lizards":
This web site is maintained by Russell "Dino Russ" Jacobson, an associate geologist at the Illinois State Geological Survey and a certified dinomaniac. It's a collection of information on dinosaur digs, exhibits, societies, publications, dinosaur artwork, and more. A truly wonderful site and easy to navigate!
This site collects links leading viewers to paintings and drawings of more than 70 species of dinosaurs and dino relatives. Some permit downloading for educational purposes, thus allowing kids to cut-and-paste images into papers they may be writing.
This is the official web site of Fossil News: Journal of Avocational Paleontology, a monthly magazine published with the amateur foremost in mind. The site includes articles and illustrations from past issues on topics ranging from specific geological time periods to fossil preparation to cladistics.
One of the world's most famous fossil sites, the Burgess Shale of British Columbia holds spectacularly preserved soft-bodied fossils from the "Cambrian explosion" when complex life suddenly burst onto the scene in the Earth's oceans. This site shows photos of the Burgess Shale quarry, the fossils found there, references for further reading, and links to related sites.
The Paleontological Portal (produced by the University of California Museum of Paleontology, the PaleoSociety, the Society of Vertebrate Paleontologists, and the USGS) is a central entry point to paleontology resources for audiences of all levels. Topics for exploration include Exploring Time & Space, the www.paleodb.org While the previous site I described is for audiences of all levels, the Paleobiology Database, composed by John Alroy of the University of California, Santa Barbara, is definitely on the more sophisticated level. It lets you scan more than 43,000 fossil collections. You can enter a specific species, and see where all sorts of information about it, and can even map the finds to see where that species has been collected. Again, though, definitely for a more sophisticated user and for older kids.
These sites scratch just the surface of what's out there. You can make this into a fun activity for your juniors by encouraging them to surf the Web themselves for interesting fossil sites and having them share and report on what they find with their fellow members at your next meeting. Let's capitalize on the tools today's kids use for learning while-as always-having fun!
In my February column, I noted how today's kids are "wired-to-learn" via computers, the Internet, and the Google search engine. To help youth leaders capitalize on this now-natural proclivity of today's kids, this month's column is Part Two in a four-part series to provide annotated listings of Web sites organized around various aspects of the rock-hounding hobby. Last month, it was fossils. This month: minerals and earth resources. Here are a few helpful sites to check out:
This is the official web site of the United States Geological Survey. Go to their "Education" section. They have a nice link to the "Earth Science Information Center" where experts will answer kids' earth science questions via the:
U.S.G.S. education web site - www.usgs.gov/education/
Geology departments at universities are wonderful resources. Some have community outreach programs and will send professors into the classroom and/or lead group tours of university collections by advance arrangement. One such department is at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which also has a wonderful on-line display of their Bancroft Mineral Collection that provides a photo of each mineral in the collection with information about locality, chemical composition, and so forth.
The web sites of the Mineral Information Institute and the Women in Mining organization both provide a wealth of information and resources on minerals, uses of minerals in everyday life, and careers in the earth sciences. Both also offer links to other interesting earth science sites.
A terrific, hands-on way to illustrate crystal shapes is by making models by folding colorful construction paper, cardstock, or thin cardboard and pasting or taping them together. Cut-out patterns for making such models may be found on this web site.
After learning about crystal shapes in the previous web site, this link on the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies site takes you to sites providing recipes and instructions for growing crystals.
Friends of Mineralogy promotes, supports, and protects the collection of minerals and works to further the recognition of the scientific, economic, and aesthetic value of minerals and mineral collecting. Their web site contains past newsletters and links to the Mineralogical Society of America, the American Geological Institute, the web site of Rocks & Minerals magazine and the Mineralogical Record, and others.
This web site allows you to wander through a Mineral Gallery of gorgeous gemstones to learn about the chemical properties of nearly 200 different types of minerals.
As with the sites I shared last month, these sites scratch just the surface of what's out there. You can make this into a fun activity for your juniors by encouraging them to surf the Web themselves for interesting mineral sites and having them share and report on what they find with their fellow members at your next meeting. Let's capitalize on the tools today's kids use for learning while-as always-having fun!
In my February and March columns, I noted how today's kids are "wired-to-learn" via computers, the Internet, and the Google search engine. To help youth leaders capitalize on this now-natural proclivity of today's kids, I present Part Three in a 4-part series to provide annotated listings of Web sites organized around various aspects of the rock-hounding hobby. So far, we've covered fossils and minerals. This month: lapidary arts. Here are a few helpful sites to check out:
Check under "Manuals," then "CFMS Slide & Video Program," and finally "Video Program Listing" for several how-to video programs available through the CFMS on everything from wire-wrapping to intarsia, soapstone carving, beading for beginners, lost wax casting, opal cutting, cabochon cutting, electroplating, enameling, faceting, and more.
First brought on-line in 1995, "Bob's Rock Shop" is the Internet's first 'Zine (or on-line magazine) for rockhounds. This is a non-commercial site has teamed with Rock & Gem magazine to provide a first-class resource on topical information and connectivity for hobbyists. It includes excellent reference lists of books on all aspects of lapidary arts.
This is the official website of the Gemological Institute of America, perhaps the world's foremost authority in gemology. You can learn about GIA courses, browse and shop for gemology instruments and books, and stay up-to-date on diamond and gemstone news and research.
This site includes an "Introduction to Faceting" guide with over 20 pages on the craft of faceting: its history, equipment, terminology, materials, and an abbreviated step-by-step guide.
Together with Hanna Cook-Wallace (a professional gemologist with a jewelry studio in Madison, Wisconsin), Jill Banfield of the UC-Berkeley Department of Earth & Planetary Science provides lessons on Gems & Gem Materials from an on-line course she offers. This is a terrific web site, packed with useful lapidary info.
These web pages provide a comprehensive introduction to gemology and the lapidary arts for the general public and a handy resource for the jewelry trade.
As with the sites I shared last month, these sites scratch just the surface of what's out there. You can make this into a fun activity for your juniors by encouraging them to surf the Web themselves for interesting sites related to the lapidary arts and having them share and report on what they find with their fellow members at your next meeting. Let's capitalize on the tools today's kids use for learning while-as always-having fun!
In my fourth and final column on using the web to tap into the interest of today's computer-connected kids, I provide annotated listings of Web sites for natural history museums. Museums are wonderful resources and make for great field trip destinations with kids. Unfortunately, not all of us are conveniently located close to a museum. The Web circumvents this problem, and today, pretty much every major museum - and most smaller, regional museums - offer a glimpse of their collections on-line, combined with additional educational resources and links. For instance, just a few seconds after typing "Natural History Museums" into the Google search engine, I found a long list of sites. I explore just a few for this month's column. Each offers excellent listings of other museums, complete with links that take you to them.
An "Education Index Top Site," here you'll find direct links to local and regional museums, large and small museums, and university collections across the U.S. and around the world. One of the most comprehensive collections of museum links I've seen!
The University of California, Berkeley, Museum of Paleontology is a research museum not open to the general public - except through this web site. Links allow you to explore the museum collections, enter a "paleoportal," and learn about exhibits and education on the history of life.
"Kuban's Guide to Natural History Museums on the Web" features annotated links to the larger, more famous museums and virtual museums that feature displays of fossils, paleontology, and related subjects.
Visit dinosaur exhibits and the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.
The Royal Ontario Museum of Toronto, Canada, is a true treasure from our neighbors of the North.
"The Dynamic Earth" gives you an inside look at geology exhibits at Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History as well as info on geological processes. For instance, see how caves form or how minerals precipitate and change under heat and pressure.
Online activities and resources are available through the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Lesson are written for primary through high school levels (and divided by grade levels) in five areas, including Earth Science, Paleontology, and Astronomy. You'll find 17 lessons on Minerals, 6 on Meteorites, and more than 25 on various aspects of Paleontology. Museums are terrific places to take kids for "indoor field trips," but if the nearest museum is too far away, distance need not preclude a visit. Take your kids on a "virtual" field trip. The furthest museum is now just a mouse click away! As with the sites I shared last month, these sites scratch just the surface of what's out there. Make this into an activity for your juniors by exploring one museum's web site as a group and then encouraging them to surf the Web for interesting museum sites and having them share what they find with their fellow members at your next meeting. Let's capitalize on the tools today's kids use for learning while-as always-having fun!