I Thunk I Saw a Snake

Maybe it has to do with all the ads for back-to-school supplies. I found myself drifting towards children’s sites this week. That meant sifting through bunches to bring out a few of the better ones.

Snake Tracks (www.snaketracks.com). This is billed as the “world’s largest snake enthusiast site.” Since I am not particularly fond of snakes, I had to toughen up considerably to stay unbiased while looking around the site’s pages. Expect a link to species identification, and a forum for snake enthusiasts. There is a page devoted to building custom enclosures, and also to breeding. I learned one thing in my spin around Snake Tracks: that “field herping” means looking for snakes in the wild. I am sure young boys ages 7 & up will be thrilled to know this site exists.

Science Toy Maker (sciencetoymaker.org/). Be forwarned that the homepage is filled with different color fonts, making it a bit difficult to read. It appears like an amateur website but don’t click away—you’ll find lots of fun projects for kids to explore. This site is appealing to parents, teachers, home schoolers, teens, and science fair participants. Materials to build the various toys are cheap. Each project comes with step-by-step instructions, background information, and in some cases, preview videos. Kids who are past bored with their summer vacation can use what time is left for building such goodies as an Overhead Water Rocket, a Putt Putt boat, or a pair of Robot Hands. There are enough projects to keep someone busy for at least a month.

Izzy’s Skylog (http://txk.k12.ar.us/~izzy/). Izzy’s website is retired, but his free software, Constellations—A Guide to Learning the Stars, is still available at the site. The software could easily help you become an expert stargazer. It tells you where in the sky and when to look for the constellations, and it provides stars’ mythological backgrounds. The software is old, and I have not tested it, but small screen captures of the program impressed me. If it works for you, you can impress your favorite companion with your knowledge of the night sky.

Tales of Future Past (http://davidszondy.com/future/). If you’re not spoiled yet by the video presentations on the Web, then you might enjoy this entertaining commentary about predictions made in the past about our current times. But you have to read. Yes, read. I bet you most people would pass this up in a flash because the site does’nt have Flash. Too bad.

Thunk (www.thunk.com). Your secret fantasy is to become a cryptologist with the C.I.A. Get a head start here, where you type your message, then click to scramble it. Copy the coded message and send it to a friend who enjoys decoding messages. Qnyyf V rz pyru V rz qnan. If you need to know what my message says, you will have to go to Thunk and have it unscramble the code. Another fun bit of Web entertainment that will appeal especially to middle school age children. And some of us adults.

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~ by IndianaDunesPoet on July 31, 2008.

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