Ology

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

A blast of fun could propel museum science site to stars.

What parents need to know

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Consumerism

Users can purchase tickets or donate to the museum, but this isn't the primary purpose of the site.

Privacy & safety

Kids create a username based on a preset list of descriptors and animals, such as "Armadillo315." Personal information isn't necessary to use the site.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Ology is the kids' science section of the American Museum of Natural History's website. On the site, kids can explore all kids of "ologies," from archaeology to zoology. If kids want to collect cards to complete projects, they'll need to register on the site, but signing up doesn't require any personal information. As far as substance goes, all the science-related information is accurate, but kids will have to look elsewhere if they want to dig deep into a subject. (Note: Ology uses Adobe Flash, and kids will need to turn off their pop-up blockers to get all the site's content.)

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • astronomy
  • biology
  • geology

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • memorization

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Ology's design and online capabilities are pretty dated, but it's colorful and tries to be kid-friendly. Kids are mostly limited to reading off a screen. 

Learning Approach

The science content is accurate and detailed enough for late elementary or middle schoolers; subjects vary from marine biology to genetics. However, the tasks that kids are asked to complete don't require as much critical thinking as they could.

Support

Ology is available in 81 languages, though images with text aren't translated. Kids also can get immediate feedback on quizzes.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • astronomy
  • biology
  • geology

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • memorization

Kids can learn about science and natural history, including subjects such as archaeology, astronomy, genetics, and climate change. Ology also provides up-to-date information from the American Museum of Natural History in New York (a visit there would work great in conjunction with the website's resources). Kids can take quick quizzes to test their knowledge and do activities or experiments to learn even more. Ology is based on accurate science and provides a handful of interesting activities, but kids may crave more opportunities for interactivity.

This Learning Rating review was written by Emily Pohlonski

Kids say

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What's it about?

OLOGY, the kids' website of the American Museum of National History, provides students with resources and related activities on a variety of topics, including anthropology, archaeology, astronomy, biodiversity, the brain, climate change, the earth, Einstein, expeditions, genetics, marine biology, paleontology, water, and zoology. Kids simply click a topic to go to its main page.

Each topic page provides a scrolling information bar called "Did You Know?" Topics may include a variety of interesting facts -- for example, "A black hole with the mass of the Earth would be about the size of a marble" or "Light has no weight and no mass." There also is a variety of games, activities, and informational texts about scientists who work in each field as well as links to museum exhibits on each topic. Kids can collect and save cards anytime they see a red asterisk on the site. Once they've accumulated enough, they can use the card images to create a digital story and compete to get into the Ology Hall of Fame.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Ology is a mixed bag of science-based stuff. Tasks such as "What Makes You You? What Makes Me Me?" initially seem as if they're going to be interactive simulations. But they're simply screens of text to click through. "Scientists at Work" gives kids a peek into the life of a scientist, but, once again, kids only read text on a screen. A few tasks here and there ask for more interaction, such as "DNA Detective," in which kids match DNA codes extracted from handbags and other products to see whether they're made of different endangered organisms. There also are some solid suggestions for offline experiments, such as the "Jellybean Smell Test" and other simple activities. Although it's nice to have all these factual science resources in one place online, it may not amount to more than a digital version of a worksheet; more interaction could really boost the fun factor as well as kids' learning.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the variety of careers available in science. They can compare the different careers portrayed in "meet-the-ologists" based on kids' strengths and interests.

  • Families also can¬†talk about how the media portrays scientists. Are they often a certain type of person? Compare this stereotype to the scientists presented on Ology.

  • For families who want to know more about how media influences kids, check out Tips for Battling Stereotypes.¬†

Website details

Genre:Educational
Topics:Science and nature
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Ology was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Educator and Parent of a 10, 12, 18, and 21 year old Written bygtsstl February 18, 2015
 
LEARNING

Entertaining and Informational

This website is easy to understand but sometimes it is hard to use. Sometimes it is hard to find your way around places (Delia, 9). It doesn't have any bad words or violence but some of the games it asks you to download. It also has a lot of words. (Savannah, 9) I think the website is entertaining and informational so it's good because it has a little bit of both (Ella, 8). I think the colors and patterns on the website were appealing to the eye. (Agatha).

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