Kids and Technology

Health, transportation, communication - technology makes the world go round in the 21st century and this issue's NetWatch offers sites that support this field of study.

by Lynda Scarrow

Kids and Technology

Canada Science and Technology Museum

The Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa helps the public understand the relationships between science, technology and Canadian society. Their site introduces the museum's exhibits.

The School Zone section covers various topics - magnets, liquids and solids, simple machines, structures and shapes, objects and materials - with grade levels clearly indicated.

The Famous Canadian Inventions area includes some fun Flash puzzles: put the pieces of a wheelchair together and learn about its inventor. Children can submit their own invention ideas to the Invention Gallery. While some of the games take a bit of time to load, one well worth the wait is Beat the Clock - a household trivia game. The applause for the correct answer is addictive, while the sympathetic ahhhs motivate you to keep trying.

IBM Canada Scitechmatics

Worth a quick visit, Scitechmatics provides brief descriptions of IT and engineering career options. It introduces women who work in technology at IBM: they tell us how they ended up in their professions, what they do at work, their hobbies, passions and dreams.

Extensive grade-identified lesson plans are provided.

The site includes the downloadable Why IT PowerPoint presentation created by a Grade 11 student for other students on the importance of technology in daily life and the need for young people to fill the skills gap (found under Career Resources/Resources on the Web).


This information-packed site shows how things work and is a great resource for teachers, though some of the topics - lockpicking, counterfeiting and long-distance scams - are inappropriate for students.

Topics range from simple to complex. More interesting offerings include: black boxes, GPS tracking systems, NASCAR racing safety, hybrid cars, microprocessors, plasma cutters and ejection seats. Scroll down the home page and, in the left-hand column, click on Big List of Articles for a comprehensive list of topics.

Tech Museum of Innovation

The Tech Museum of Innovation, in the heart of Silicon Valley, has a web site offering a range of tech information. Two particularly good online exhibits are Robotics and Tech Topics.

The Robotics section lets you operate the controls for an exploratory rover. The earth rover controls are much easier to use than those for the moon rover, which are irritating. Also included are audio discussions on robot ethics, a history of robotics and activities to help students understand the potential and limits involved in creating robots.

Tech Topics cover earthquakes, matter, genetics, electricity and the cardio-vascular system. Each section includes a comprehensive vocabulary list and extensive resource links, conveniently located at the top of each page.

The more playful of the two sites reviewed here, GetTech helps students plan for careers in technology, engineering, manufacturing and science. Funky music, flashing lights and youthful graphics are sure to appeal to students, but underneath all the flash and glitter is some very solid information.

The GetTech Teacher Lesson Guide (which may or may not be useful to Canadian teachers) provides six teaching modules and there are a number of teacher resources available.

GetTech Careers is one of the more useful parts of the site with a comprehensive list of technology careers, including salaries, job growth and so on. (American as well, of course, but offering an approximate idea of salaries and career benefits.)

Getsmarter lets students test their math and science skills against others around the world. This site also provides trial quizzes and games to enhance knowledge.

The most irritating and frustrating aspect of Getsmarter is that you can't navigate by the back button and anyone clicking on the Elementary and Middle School sections is unable to proceed unless they choose a grade and subject.

The rest of the information required to move forward is optional, but children might not notice and fill out everything. A disclaimer posted on the site regarding information use is comprehensive, but adult monitoring would be appropriate.

In spite of these difficulties, and that it's an American site, Getsmarter is worth investigating because it's well designed and tests students based on international standards.


It may be very basic and not pretty, but this site provides children with the plans and knowledge to build structures, mechanisms and computer programs that help them make connections to mathematical and scientific ideas.

BrainPOP is a subscription-based web site that allows you to use a couple of items on the site per day or you can sign up for a 14-day free trial.

While NetWatch normally doesn't recommend sites that require fee payments, BrainPOP is exceptionally well designed with kid friendly graphics and a wealth of solid, interactive information. Drop-down menus provide access to terrific Flash movies related to technology.

BrainPOP is also supported by a number of leaders in education, including the McGraw Hill Learning Network, National Geographic Kids, (for children with learning disabilities) and SciLinks (created by science educators). It's well worth a look.

Lynda Scarrow is the College's web editor. She can be reached at

Not all sites are available in both English and French. For information on French sites related to this topic, visit Cyberespace.