Websites That Will Enlighten and Entertain You - Issue 9

Issue 9

World Wide Web
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I have always loved learning, so I am so grateful for the Internet. It allows me to learn so much about so many different topics. If you're like me, you appreciate all that the Internet has to offer as well. We can learn some fun parenting tips or learn about the brain or words. What's especially fun about the Internet, though, is that we can do more than just read about a topic; we can see some pretty awesome visualizations.

For instance, we can see photos and other visualizations, such as those that can allow us to explore the known universe, traveling from star to star.

100,000 Stars

This site is both fun and educational. You start out seeing a visualization of 100,000 nearby stars. You can then spin it around, scroll, enlarge the view, and click on any star. When you click on a star, you get its name and information about the star and its location. To get started, you can take the tour, which starts with our sun and then moves farther and farther out into the universe. If you or your child likes space, you can spend lots of time on this site learning about the stars.

25 Ways To Ask Your Kids “So how was school today?” Without Asking them “So how was school today?”

How I wish I had had this list when my son was young! I admit I did know about the first question(s) in the list: "What was the best thing that happened at school today?" or "What was the worst thing that happened at school today?" My son's answers were respectively, "Nothing" and "Everything."  I will say that some of the questions on this list, I don't think I'd want to ask my son, such as "Where do you play the most at recess?" There were too many times that my son was left alone on the playground.

However, some of the questions on the list would have been perfect. Here are a couple that would have worked quite well: "If an alien spaceship came to your class and beamed up someone who would you want them to take?" and "If you got to be the teacher tomorrow what would you do?"

100 Beautiful and Ugly Words

I am a linguist, so I love words and pretty much everything about them.

This list of beautiful and ugly words can be considered to be subjective since some people feel differently about some of the words. "Crepuscular," for example, doesn't sound so beautiful to me, and based on the comments on the page, it doesn't to others as well. There is a reason some words sound ugly and some sound beautiful to us and it's more than just their meanings. Some sounds are just less pleasing to us than others. In general, softer sounds (like "s") are more pleasing than hard sounds (like "k").  "High" vowel sounds like "eee" are more pleasant than low vowell sounds lik "uh." So words like "serene" are more "beautiful" than "grunt." Spend some time with your child looking at this list and see if you agree with which words are beautiful and which are ugly and what they have in common.

Six amazing substances and what they can do..

Ever hear of gallium?  It's a metal that actually melts at room temperature. How about sulfur hexaflouride? It's a gas on which solid objects can float.

There are four other substances on this site that you can learn about. Some of them have animated gifs so you can see them in action. Be forewarned, though. There are, unfortunately, a couple instances of inappropriate language, so if you're thinking of sharing this with your child, be sure to read through it first.

Top 20 Microscope Photos of the Year

We can't see everything. Some things are just too small to see. So we have microscopes. They help us see what we would ordinarily miss, but they also help us see things in new ways because we can see so much more detail. These 20 photos are photos that allow us to see those details we'd otherwise miss. What does that wasp nest really look like up close - magnified ten times. Or what about mosquito heart muscle magnified 100 times?  Some of the photos are rather beautiful.

Things Made Thinkable -- Elementary Particles

This site is quite interesting. It offers an interactive model of particles: leptons, quarks, and gauge bosons. I'm not even going to try to pretend I understand what's on it, but it does let you see the difference between particles and antiparticles, and provides information on the various particles' mass, spin, charge, and more.

Important Infrequently Used Words To Know

Back to words! This is more my speed. If you or your child is a fan of words, this list of words will make you happy! You may be familiar with the words "hubris" and "poignant," but what about "samizdat" or "polymath"?  Polymath doesn't have anything to do with numbers!  This list would make a great one to use for vocabulary building.

The Brain from Top to Bottom

This site helps you learn and understand pretty much everything about the brain. It divides information into five areas: molecular, cellular, neurological, psychological, and social. Then there are twelve different levels, starting with the organization of the brain. So if you look at the first level, which is anatomy, you can click on a link that will give you more information about anatomy of each of the five levels: synapses (molecular), neurons (cellular), the brain (neurological), individual behavior (psychological), and social groups (social). As you can imagine, there is a great deal to learn here. This is the advanced site. You can start at the beginners site, which is less overwhelming.

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