This amazing collection of simulations will educate while it entertains. We used the weather activity earlier this year and it was fantastic - did exactly what we needed it to as a culminating activity, loaded quickly, was simple to understand and apply. The Teacher’s Guide (also available in .PDF format) has helpful tips about using the site as well as pre- and post-tests and state (Ohio) / national science standards included. The animation quality is particularly excellent, with vivid drawings, great use of sound and dialog, and kooky characters kids will love.
The Simple Machines activity is also excellent, particularly for elementary kids, as it does a great job explaining how simple machines are part of everyday life. It’s not all fun and point-n-click games though - the Crash Scene activity is extremely detailed and realistic (perhaps too much so, there are actual crash scene photos included.) Some of the other activities are also a little too realistic - the Virtual Hip Replacement activity has actual photos too - ugh! Definitely spend some time reviewing this site before using it with your kids.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Ocean Service has unveiled a new online educational game called “WaterLife: Where Rivers Meet the Sea.” Developed through a partnership with Montgomery College’s Computer Gaming and Simulation program in cooperation with NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System, the web-based game provides science instruction for students in grades 4-7 through a series of challenges and animations. The game occurs inside the ecosystem of an estuary on the West Coast of the United States. Following a young girl named Valerie, players interact with Oscar the sea otter and the fictional Claminator, a geoduck clam. To succeed, players must learn about the factors that produce healthy estuaries, food webs, and why estuaries are essential to both ocean life and humans. During the course of the game, students recycle and clean up trash, remove obstructions in waterways, replant the habitat to bring back food webs, and battle pollution monsters to restore Oscar’s home.
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