Science and Internet Research With Surfing the Net Science (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Teaching students how to use dictionaries and encyclopedias was critical at one time. To do any research, students needed to know where to find the resources and how to use them. Although I still think it’s important for kids to know what these resources are and how to use them, internet research is much more widely used today. Now it’s critical that kids know how to look up information online, what information is reputable, and how to use that information. I recently had the opportunity to review with the younger girls a resource from The Critical Thinking Co. that is designed to help kids learn how to do this- Surfing the Net:Science.

I received a physical paperback book- Surfing the Net: Science. The book is intended for grades 3-6, and there is an ebook available. The paperback book can be copied for use within a classroom, so I was able to use it with two girls- grades 5 and 6.

Review of a resource for searching the internet and learning science from The Critical Thinking Co

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About The Critical Thinking Co.

I’ve had the opportunity to review products from The Critical Thinking Co. before. Most recently we’ve reviewed the Math Analogies computer game which was a digital software download.

The Critical Thinking Co. is a company that publishes books and resources that are based on educational standards and are designed to help students perform better on standardized tests and to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The company has resources for math, science, history, reading, and writing. Other Crew reviewers have been reviewing other products from the company during this review as well. So make sure you click the banner at the bottom to see all we had a chance to review.

Surfing the Net: Science

Surfing the Net: Science is a workbook with reproducible pages. It is intended to teach children science concepts while, more importantly teaching them to use the internet for research. It contains activities that include watching videos, searching for images, using websites, taking quizzes, playing online games, viewing online animation, using interactive websites, and reading articles. The science material covered in the book include these topics:

  • Animals
  • Atmosphere
  • Ecosystems and Habitats
  • Energy
  • Geology
  • Plants
  • Space
The topics all contain six to eight lessons. There is also an answer key included. For each major section, there is an introduction that contains several websites that can be used throughout the section for extra information.

Surfing the Web: Science from The Critical Thinking Co

Using Surfing the Net: Science
I used the workbook with Ashlyne and Rachel who are 5th and 6th graders. I love that the pages can be photocopied so that multiple kids can use the book. Because I was using the book with both girls together, they took turns searching for the answers to questions. I worked with them. Although the book is supposed to be intended for grades 3-6, I think they would have had difficulty doing it independently. I also thought it was an excellent opportunity to work with them about safety on the internet. Even googling a topic that seems innocuous can lead to inappropriate sites. So I took the opportunity to teach as we worked.
I used Surfing the Net: Science as a supplement to our regular science curriculum. It does introduce some good science information, but the biggest benefit to the book is that of teaching research techniques. We used the topics in order, but really you could skip around and cover the different topics in any order you wanted. I really liked that, besides the great research skills the girls were learning, we had the opportunity for them to problem solve, to create charts and graphs, and to think creatively.

Online research with Surfing the Net: Science

Here are some examples of the activities that we worked on:
  • Looking for answers to questions on the internet by using keywords to search
  • Using the information gathered to create our own unique amphibian
  • Recording information on a Venn diagram
  • Dissecting a frog on a virtual dissection site
Virtual dissection with Surfing the Net: Science
Each lesson took us a good amount of time. Part of this was because the girls were taking turns researching information, so there was some back and forth as we worked through. I was also trying not to rush through so that we could really absorb some of the information we were finding as we researched and so that we could talk about good research habits. We worked on the lessons for about 30-40 minutes at a time, and we just covered as much material as we could each time.
What did we think?
The girls and I both really enjoyed this curriculum. The girls liked the opportunity to research the information on their turn. They occasionally struggled with searching out the answers once we found the articles online that we needed, but they began to be better at it with time.

Internet research skills

I love this resource. It’s been so good for teaching research skills, and the information we’ve picked up about each topic has been interesting too. I love the variety of activities that are introduced and the fact that working through the book requires more than just finding simple answers. It requires thinking and problem solving and working creatively.
I plan to continue working through the book with the girls. We began with the Animals section, but there are quite a few interesting topics that we can cover. Surfing the Net: Science has been a great workbook for us, and this is one I can definitely recommend.
The Facts
Age- 3rd-6th grade
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Other Review Crew members had the opportunity to review this and other products from The Critical Thinking Co. You can see what they thought by clicking below.

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