The "Water Science for Schools" website is hosted by the US Geological Survey and is targeted to middle school and high school audiences. It contains a wealth of information about water, focusing primarily on its use as a resource. In addition to descriptions, the site contains images, maps, and tables of data, along with an extensive glossary, and interactive opinion surveys.
Reference Material for the Classroom
Target Student Population:
Middle School and High School, primarily but could be used with college students
Type of Material:
Evaluation and Observation
The information delivered at the site is extensive, well-written and focused.
The quantity and quality of the information are quite good and the site appears to be updated regularly. The site has an extensive list of links to other high quality sites that focus on water.
The layout of the site and its reliance on a text-based format limit its use primarily to that of an information resource.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The "Random Link" button provides an interesting and effective way of browsing the site.
The site is largely text based, which restricts its utility to students with developed reading skills. The quality of the information is very good and well organized, however, the widespread reliance on text will discourage younger students from using the site. The site does have a good deal of information that is presented in graphical and tabular form making it a good source of data for students doing research projects. It would be nice if higher resolution images of the graphical representations were available. This would make them more useful for students to download and include in printed reports. The site provides some interactive activities for visitors including questionnaires and surveys that visitors can respond to. It also allows a visitor to see an ongoing tally of the results. The site has a very capable search engine along with easy to understand instructions on how to use it. For those interested in just browsing the site to explore and gain a greater understanding of water resources, there is a button at the bottom of each page labeled "Random Link". This button allows a visitor to randomly jump about the site. This is an interesting and effective way to browse the site, and one that nicely illustrates one of the more powerful aspects of delivering information on the world wide web.
The heavy reliance on using text to present information will discourge some visitors from spending much time at the site.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site is very easy to get around.
Though not flashy, the site is very nicely laid out. Each page has a consistent graphical navigation bar at the top that provides links directly to the seven main areas of the site, along with links to help and search pages. The home page also provides a link to a page that summarizes the contents of the each the seven main areas. Together, these features make it possible to move about the site with ease. There is a button at bottom of each page that takes the viewer directly to a rather extensive glossary of terms. When these terms are used throughout the site, they are also linked back to this glossary.
Because the site relies mostly on text and low-resolution graphical images, pages load quickly. There are a couple of bad links within the site, but overall the site appears well conceived, designed and maintained. The site is also well contained; visitors will not suddenly find themselves unintentionally leaving the site.
Graphics are of low image quality compared to what is generally seen on the world wide web today.