Science becoming wildly popular online

The Centre for the Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) in Washington, D.C. reports that as online tools and webcams become easier to use, an interest in things scientific is exploding across communities around the world.

EcoGeek.com, an environmental blogging site started by American Hank Green, has spawned a community of over 470 000 fans. NurdRage, a community of Canadian chemistry and biology researchers who document experiments online, is one of the most popular YouTube channels to emanate from Canada. Science.Geek includes amongst its fans teachers and high school students interested in virtual-laboratory simulators and interactive graphics, getting over 1 000 hits before 08:00 every morning.

No-one wants to dampen the love for science that’s emerging online. But it’s a fact that many groups use technology for less-than-scientific purposes. That’s the view of Alan J. Friedman, a former Director of the New York Hall of Science and a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, who went online to review professional and amateur websites on the subject. “Some of the amateur sites were terrifically good; but I also saw sites that looked just as good that were completely wrong,” he says.

Still, going online is one way to reach children ‘where they live’, says Robert Krampf. He runs www.thehappyscientist.com, which puts out daily science news and experimentof-the-week videos. More than 19 000 people a day view his daily science photo quiz on Facebook. Also at the appropriate end of the spectrum, http://assessment.aaas.org provides educators with quick lists of scientific statements broken down by subject matter, highlighting concepts that tend to be misunderstood by students.

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Category: e-Education, Winter 2011

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