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Neuroscience for kids, on the Web

Back-to-school is upon us. Dr. Amy Tiemann begins a series on high-quality educational resources for kids by recommending the site "Neuroscience for Kids."

When I was a high school student, I hated writing term papers. I thought the whole enterprise of collecting information was tedious and boring. I remember visiting the local college library to look for information for a term paper I was writing about Eleanor of Aquitaine. It was a struggle to find the five required references. I remember looking up books in the card catalog, then hunting them down on the shelves, and scouring each one for relevant information that I wrote down on index cards. Some books were missing, some were out of place. It took hours to gather enough information to begin even writing a paper.

Then there was the task of transforming these pieces of information into a coherent narrative, typed on an electric typewriter.

Boy do I feel old. But more to the point, it's ironic that I became a writer in the long run. It turns out that I love to do research, but only when I can get to the information I need as quickly as possible.

Of course that process has been revolutionized over the past decade and a half. Google and are my two essential research tools. If you do a Google search for "Eleanor of Aquitaine," you get 228,000 results at your fingertips in 0.14 seconds.

Whatever quality control issues the Web may have, it's good to remember that it is a luxury to be able to analyze information for its quality and relevance, rather than hunt for facts like a needle in a haystack.

So when I come across a high-quality resource for students, I like to share it. The Neuroscience for Kids Web site, put together by the University of Washington, is really well done. As a former high school student, scientist, and high school teacher myself, I appreciate this professionally sourced treasure-trove of information for teachers and students. Neuroscience for Kids offers facts, lesson plans, experiments, and links to quality reports such as Seeing, Hearing, and Smelling the World, by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

I recommend that you bookmark these sites for a future science project, or for a day when you just want to satisfy your curiosity about questions such as "How does chocolate affect my brain?" or "Why can't I tickle myself?"