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NASA Kids' Club
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that NASA Kids' Club has games and activities from the space agency. The site doesn't require kids to register or enter an email address to post comments, which are moderated. However, some parts include links to social media, which are less controlled. A section of the site also offers Internet safety tips for parents and teachers.
What's it about?
Kids can find what they want to do quickly and easily right from the main page. It doesn't take long to catch on to the leveled games (1 = easiest, 5 = hardest), which are usually focused on a single space idea. Other activities like Elmo Visits NASA, Mars Fun Zone, and Buzz Lightyear Return from Space are more elaborate and kids can take their time. Kids can also check in on current space missions, play more games in a clubhouse, join an asteroid naming contest, or view NASA photographs.
Is it any good?
Nifty space-age noises sound when you click on buttons in NASA KIDS' CLUB -- but that's just one of the clever touches NASA has included on its space-centric site. Don't expect dozens of things to do; there probably isn't enough to keep kids captivated for hours. However, the games, videos, and other activities are well-designed, easy to understand, and -- best of all -- fun. Interactive sections let you compare your weight and age on various planets; some familiar faces also pop up in a Buzz Lightyear game and a video recapping Elmo's trip to NASA.
NASA really has done a great job of incorporating educational activities on its site. Some use visual elements to help kids work out math problems, and to customize the experience, others let kids select an age group (such as kindergarten to second grade). Another bonus: Because NASA offers a text-only version of the site, even families using an old computer will be able to join in on the fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why it's safer to read or post comments on a moderated website like this. What kind of information would a moderator prevent from being posted? Read our tips for protecting online privacy.
How can you tell if a website's message board is moderated or not? What does it mean if it says somewhere on the site that messages are moderated, but when you post something, it appears on the site immediately?
For kids who love science
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