Sparticl

Website review by
cmthomas, Common Sense Media
Sparticl Website Poster Image
Great science resource, but advanced content can stump kids.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn fascinating details on all kinds of science fronts (galaxies, game birds, green building), as well as some general overviews. Video clips are short (a few minutes long), articles are concise, and interactive games are age-appropriate. Designed to excite teens about STEM topics, the site awards points for viewing resources or posting comments. Kids can learn about related science professions, too, through fascinating profile blurbs. Sparticl provides an entertaining spin on science facts and information for the science fan and newcomer alike.

Positive Messages

Kids' enthusiasm, interest grow through safe access to interesting, appropriate science content. Further, they may be inspired by the more than 50 profiles of diverse men and women working in fascinating science fields.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sparticl is a curated, teen-friendly database of online science content (videos, articles, and games). Topics range from ants to zoonotic diseases (and all things in between), with some resources leaning a bit toward the advanced. Accessing content doesn’t require an account. Kids (age 13 and over) who do make accounts will enjoy designing their own avatars, posting comments, and earning badges. Parents should be aware that kids who create accounts also can make groups, which can provide them with the personal details of group members who join, and can link off to external sites, each of which has its own privacy policies.

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What's it about?

SPARTICL is a curated collection of science resources, geared toward teens. Topics are organized into six major categories. Content includes articles, videos, games, online activities, and profiles of scientists. Accessing content does not require an account, but logged-in users (who must be 13) connect to the site’s social media and game-like components. Kids can create eccentric avatars and earn points for viewing resources, adding comments, and answering quiz questions. Weekly top-scorers are listed on the home page.

Is it any good?

Sparticl is definitely good for kids exploring science topics (they won’t blunder into anything inappropriate). Kids will love viewing short videos and stumbling on the weird-but-maybe-true (Is the crunch in a fig cookie actually wasp parts?). Interactive websites, games, and hands-on activities add "something to do," and embedded quiz questions challenge kids to find specific information. Further, the ability to earn points or write comments may motivate some teens to truly learn more.

The catch is that some resources really target a more advanced audience (such as content from Scientific American). Part of the issue is the vocabulary used on the site; technical and science-specific words are hurdles, and there's no glossary of terms. Similarly, the pace of some video and audio is too fast for younger learners. Also, topics tend to be fact- or interest-based. Though this is an attention-grabbing asset, it also means that topics aren’t always best for developing foundational knowledge or deep understanding. Sparticl is a great science resource, but kids who aren't huge science fans may struggle with the detailed information found here.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about climate change, finding articles, videos, and interactive experiences appropriate for kids. Do you see anything in the items on the site that gives you an opinion about climate change? Does it change the opinion you had before looking at the website?

  • Talk about science careers by looking (or searching) for the gray profiles of researchers and engineers. What appeals to you about these careers? Can any researchers or engineers serve as great role models for you?

  • Families can choose a local animal (state mammal, favorite bird, pesky insect) and learn about its life, classification, and habitat. What makes this animal different from other animals? How it is similar?

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