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Shining a Kid-friendly Light on Research

Navigating the research realm with students and bringing peace of mind to online investigating.

image:Research ideas gone awry.

When it comes to teaching students about the best research resources, finding some sage advice online is always helpful.

“I cannot tell a lie. I used the internet to research all my big decisions as president.”
– George Washington

Isn’t it great to see that even our most highly regarded forefathers took the time to buckle down and do research before making big decisions? Great lesson to be learned here… When it comes to researching online, we need to ensure that students are unearthing the best resources with trustworthy content.

If we could always hop online and find reliable information, there’d be no reason to look beyond that first search result for all the answers. The winning lottery numbers, the number one diet secret, and the cures to every ailment are all right there for the taking. The concern is whether or not they are being taken from a reliable source, and that’s where students need guidance in the research realm. These tips and links will help pave the path for research with ease and place our misquoted forefathers back in the proper channels of history.

A great first step is reviewing some basic tips for narrowing a search. By adding quotes, hyphens, asterisks, etc., students begin to reveal a more succinct field of information. These tips from Google will allow students to get to the heart of a topic by streamlining the search returns.

Search Engines and Databases

Everyone can relate to stumbling upon an unintended search result. Sometimes these results are in dire need of a kid-friendly filter, and sometimes they are beyond the bounds of relevancy. These links can be utilized to bring peace of mind and/or an academic lilt to information searches.

  • Fact Monster - A great resource filled with information collections from encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, and more. Hit the citation button on the page to make referencing a breeze!
  • Q-files - A great kid-friendly encyclopedia with a vast array of science and social studies topics.
  • Sweet Search - Over 35,000 websites and links are housed in this kid-friendly search engine vetted by librarians, teachers, and research experts.
  • Kidtopia - Created by librarians, teachers, and other education stakeholders, this Google custom search engine filters search results for kid-friendly research and offers links to several other databases.
  • Duck Duck Go - This search engine doesn’t track user’s history and may be a great addition for students doing lots of research online by keeping the returns fresh.
  • Google Scholar - Remove all the fluff with this truly scholarly search engine that is best suited for older students in search of articles, journals, theses, etc.

No search engine or online database can replace the wealth of information to be found by visiting the library and consulting with the in-house expert, a librarian! Notice many of the suggested links were created by librarians, and many libraries subscribe to online databases and search engines that can only be accessed via a password provided by the librarian. A visit to these wonderful research centers can be just what students need to get in the proper mindset to tackle all the information that abounds.

Regardless of the age of the researcher, blindly searching the internet can be tiresome and prove to return a wide array of unrelated results. Teachers can develop students’ research skills by sharing tips for narrowing searches, directing them to kid-friendly and/or academic search platforms, and encouraging them to seek out the multitude of resources found by visiting the library. With a few tips and links, research goes from a daunting task to an enjoyable endeavor!

If you enjoyed the thoughts and ideas shared here, check out the trainings and tools (for teachers and for families) that we offer.

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