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Class Act Surfing: Back to School

By Rogi Riverstone
(August 27, 2000)

Boy, if there had been an internet when I was in school, I could have had some fun, cuz studying would have been easy.

I hate to sound like one of those old geezers who says, "I used to have to walk a hundred miles to school every day, in the snow, in the hot sun, uphill both ways, in shoes made of corn husks, carrying fifty pounds of books and my kid brother...." I don't have a kid brother.

I may not have had a WebTV, but I had some great teachers. They weren't as fast as a search engine, but almost. And they had soul. Dropping names now: my Creative Writing Teacher (the first person ever who actually wanted to hear what I had to say) was Mrs. Dengler at Robert Fulton Jr. High.

These days, I call her Marianna. She writes children's books now: good ones, like The Worry Stone and Fiddlin' Sam. Why, here they are, now!

The Worry Stone

Fiddlin' Sam

So, here you are, my lil cyber pals, getting ready to polish the ol' apple, sharpen your new pencils (do you still use those?) and try not to scuff those new school shoes. Mean Aunt Rogi is here to help you make it all the way to Winter Break without breakin' a sweat.

You grown ups, listen up, too. These sites are more fun than rented videos and neighborhood gossip. The whole family can sit around surfing these puppies, playing games, taking quizzes (bet the kids do better than you do), and exploring the web. This is interactive TV at its best.

I have to warn you: no search engines were injured in the making of this Surfari. These are all links I have laying around the home page.

Let's start out with my idea of.....

"Students' F-Keys":

Surfing The Net With Kids Barbara has put together one of the most comprehensive and useful sites on darnd near everything that I've ever seen. Subscribe for her free e-zine, and you'll never run out of topics and ideas for projects and reports again. I'm addicted.

Awesome Library only has 14,000 references, from kindergarten through 12 (and beyond, IMHO), on everything from Art to Zoology.

If you'd like to stay lost in cyberspace forever, go to Encyclopedia Smithsonia which has a huge alphabetical index of topics, a search engine and one of the most extensive collections of you-name-its in the world.

Library Of Congress has copies of every book ever printed in the U.S.A. and maybe even in English. They have a whole set of pages on how to use the library and they have a link at the top of their home page for kids and families that states, "Play Around And Learn Something." I want that carved on my tomb stone.

Alphabet SuperHighway has an e-zine, library, resource list for parents and teachers and covers just about all and any subjects.

How to write like you know how:

Roget's Thesaurus is not a dinosaur; it's a book you use to find a better word for something than what you can think of right away. This works like a search engine.

Hypertext Webster Gateway is a really snazzy way of saying, "online dictionary".

Guide to Grammar And Writing will show you everything from how to build a sentence to how to write essays. They have fun quizzes to test your skills, graded by computer.

Books Online:

Concordance Of Great Books can help when you know you read it somewhere, but can't remember where. It's a search engine to match words and phrases to authors and books.

Books In English University of Virginia Library books on line.

Collected Works of William Shakespeare has its own search engine to make finding Falstaff and Puck a little less intimidating. This site is so fun.

Some Of The Classics of the classics. This is a personal homepage by a student who actually learned something.

Children's Literature Web Guide has bulletin boards, reviews, links and if they don't have it, they know who does.

How To Draw Your Way Out Of A Paper Bag:

Art Studio Chalk Board will take you from simple shapes to human figures.

Art Stuff has links to art departments, K through University, all over the States and a big links section.This will give you some inspiration.

Artcyclopeia look it up by artist, medium, period, etc. Makes art history reports much less painful.

Louvre Museum exhibits, tours, history and you can even buy tickets online, if you're planning a trip to France.

WebMuseum is a genuine attempt at a World Wide Web of museums, exhibitions, histories and biographies.

How To Get Away With Messing Up The Kitchen Because It's Homework:

Ask Dr. Science is not really a doctor and he sells vacuums. But he's good for a quick reference and some links.

NanoWorld lets you look at itty bitty things close up. This site will really gross you out.

NASA Quest is called an internet classroom for kids, but I go there all the time, cuz I don't get too lost and I can almost understand what they're saying.

It's Alive!, Boston Science Museum has a gorgeous site to play around and get lost in. Just don't forget to finish your homework!

Mad Sci Net has a lab, library, scientists to ask questions of and projects.

Hands-On Technolongy has science projects and experiments you can make out of stuff around the house.

Optical Illusions will leave you cross eyed.

Virtual Expeditions inter-active world tours for grades K-12

Bill Nye's Science Experiments

Exploratorium Science Snacks build an anti-gravity mirror.

Kinetic City Science Radio Show archives

Newton's Apple PBS science show

Bizarre Stuff you can make in your kitchen. "This site is a museum of classic home science experiments, mainly from the 1930's-1960's."

Do It Yourself home laboratory. "What is a mirage?"

Edible/Inedible "Science Should Be Fun; Science Should Be Edible!"

Experiments Science/Nature for kids. Make your own fossil.

Elementary Science children's resources. "Bees?! Or Yellowjackets!"

Back Yard Nature natural sciences around the home

Reeko's Mad Scientist "Ever wonder why a really heavy boat floats while a small rock sinks like a... uhhh, rock?"

Science Experiments you can do. Make an easy chemical volcano, instructions for making slime.

"Mathematics" Is Not A Bad Word:

Fractal Microscope build your own virtual fractal.

This Is Mega Mathematics a usual day at unusual school.

Grey Labyrinth has mind-bending puzzles. Torture your parents!

Virtual Polyhedra is geometry, but I prefer to think of it as pretty holiday ornaments, made of paper.

Current Events:

Newseum has a new topic and Pulitzer prize-winning pic every time you log on.

Hint: you can surf any local or national news channel or network. And almost all newspapers and magazines have online sites now. They have search engines. How do you think I write all this weird stuff?

Study Tool Box For Student Surfologists:

World Atlas helps you find things on a map or globe.

dMarie Time Capsule looks up what happened in history on a particular date. Try your birthday.

World Clock what time it is, almost everywhere on the planet. Really helps when e-mailing to or chatting with people on the other side of the planet.

Travlang's Translating Dictionary because I hate it when I'm right in the middle of a great book when suddenly the author says something in German or French that I just don't understand and don't want to own seventy million foreign language dictionaries and.....sounds like a personal problem.

English To American Dictionary .....or, I'll be reading some British novel, when suddenly, somebody says, "I'll knock you up early so we can put petrol in the lorie." and I just sit there, so confused and embarrassed........

Measure 4 Measure isn't here just because we here at "Voice" just love things with "4" in the title. According to the webmaster, this is "A collection of interactive sites on the Web that estimate, calculate, evaluate, translate, etc. In other words, they do the work for you".

Encyclopedia Mythica has references to 5,700 gods and goddesses, unicorns, dragons and other stuff you don't normally find hangin' out at the mall.

General Foolessness: has sections for parents, teachers and students. This is a good start-up sight for home-schoolers and at-my-wits-end teachers. The kids section has boards and chats on animorphs, Harry Potter and every other kewl trend in kid fiction. There are also contests and games.

Weird Sites makes essay-writing much more fun.

Aneurismic Brain Fodder (look it up in the online dictionary, silly) is, according to the webmaster, "A Different Bit of Silliness Nearly Every Day. Within this bland, yet somehow quite irritating waste of bandwidth you will find a plethora of random thoughts, rants, ideas, poems, limericks, funny sounds and body hair. You will find within its depths a forum to discuss and share your random thoughts, rants, ideas, poems, limericks, funny sounds and body hair. You'll find a collection of Absurdity the likes of which have never been seen. And you'll find Facts the government doesn't want you to know."

Now, look, surfers and surfettes, I know you have lots to do this year: sports, homework, clubs, scouts, selling candy, harassing members of the opposite sex, staring out the window, whining, worrying about your hair, etc. But, I'd really, really appreciate hearing how you do this semester or quarter or nanosecond or whatever. If you manage to pull off some good grades in some difficult subjects and used this list to do it, would you mind dropping your Mean Aunt Rogi an e-mail and letting me know? I can't help you with your homework or anything; Dudette, Dexter and RainSong keep me too busy for that. But I'd love to hear from you. As Dan Quayle says, "a mind is a terrible thing to lose."

Thanks to: for the almost-edible clip art.

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