In the market for a comprehensive, curriculum-friendly online resource? Shop no more. Rosen PowerKids’s impressive five decades’ worth of science knowledge is now updated and available in a logically arranged digital format. PowerKnowledge provides content in three lively databases—Earth and Space Science, Life Science, and Physical Science—that are tailored toward the curricular needs and the interests of young readers. All entries are “correlated to state and national science curriculum standards, and Canadian provincial learning outcomes,” which makes the material sound dry, but via this vehicle, it is made entertaining using multimedia, games, and more.
PowerKnowledge science suite
Grade Level 3-6.
Cost Pricing for one of these databases is tiered based on population size (in schools) or number of cardholders (in public libraries) and starts at $595 per school or library for a one-year subscription. It is also possible to arange bundled pricing for the Suite; this is also based on population or number of cardholders and starts at $1,495 per school or library for a one-year subscription. Discounts are available for multiple sites and/or district subscriptions, and for multiple years.
Overview These databases, which are iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and netbook compatible, cover all things science in three parts: Earth and Space Science, Life Science, and Physical Science. Users can easily toggle from one database to another through any of the URLs listed above, or cross-search the ones to which the library has subscribed. The triad is jam-packed with information and its uniform presentation goes far in the way of organizing what could otherwise be an overwhelming amount of material. Simple fonts; large text; bright colors; images, video, and text-to-speech features; and hands-on activities are sure to pique and keep the interest of millennials. The clean layout encourages browsing, which will undoubtedly result in stronger digital literacy and understanding of scientific concepts.
How It Works Dive in by clicking on any category in the left navigation bar of the homepage. The browse screen displays all categories there, allowing users to switch between subject areas with ease. Physical Science, for example, offers the opportunity to explore topics such as “Atoms and Molecules,” “Force and Motion,” and “Scientific Method.” After selecting and clicking on a category, a subcategories and articles menu appears, equipped with a thumbnail image, a title, and a double arrow symbol. Clicking on any subcategory leads to another level of options and related articles—”Force and Motion,” for example, leads to choices including “Gravity,” “Motion in Our World,” and “Isaac Newton and Laws of Motion,” each of which features several articles. The choices often become quite specific: browsing the Life Science database category “Animals” leads to such riches as nine subcategories of bears under “Mammals.” The articles comprise short chunks of narrative text and multimedia that are accessed by a linked table of contents to the left of the screen.
Students who aren’t sure where to start or who haven’t finalized a research topic can enter any term into the can’t-miss-it search box at the top of the browse screen and a hit-list showcasing images with captions accompanies the listed text results. The variety and number of results are bound to inspire ideas.
Layout The PowerKnowledge homepage highlights hands-on activities that are constantly revised. Returning to the homepage from anywhere in the site is as simple as clicking the PowerKnowledge logo on the upper-left corner of any page.
All articles are laid out in the same format to allow for easy reading and navigation. The content is general but engaging. Each article contains a “Find Out More” section with websites and annotated further-reading lists. Entries conclude with citations in both MLA and APA formats, a welcome addition for students. The left side of each page features “print” and “email” buttons, and each article also includes a glossary.
Additional Features Include
Take a Closer Look sections that offer high-energy videos designed to make the subject come alive for viewers. The “Learn More” features link to related articles within the database.
Check It Out! provides unique factoids and trivia to attract and educate students.
Brain Teasers invite users to self-test their subject knowledge, with answers and further information immediately provided.
Vote Now! solicits user opinions. Again, poll results are immediately displayed.
Games includes a wide array of compelling, educational activities to reinforce skills and content. (Note: Users must have Flash 9 or higher installed in order to play).
Science Fair Projects and Activities Oriented toward inculcating the scientific method into the learning process, projects and experiments are suggested, including step-by-step guidance toward accomplishing a successful science fair project.
Notable Features “Resources for Teachers and Librarians” supplies everything from print-and-label sheets to lesson plans and from usage statistics to sign up for a PowerKnowledge newsletter that offers programming ideas and more. Librarians wishing to further promote their databases will appreciate the buttons and widgets that can be used as lively ways to link to these resources from the library’s website. A “Curriculum Correlations” feature allows the instructor to select a state or province, subject, and grade level, and have pertinent articles presented.
The databases’ text-to-speech function offers read-aloud service for the benefit of ESL students and new readers. Although the voice is robotic and the cadence a bit startling, text is highlighted in concert with the reading, replacing the need for a finger or a bouncing red ball to follow along.
Verdict PowerKnowledge goes far beyond what students are used to in traditional science textbooks and print series nonfiction. All the latest bells and whistles are here; the resources are encylopedic in scope, lively, and overflowing with visual stimulus and cool audio (check out, for example, the “Hear it!” feature in Life Science’s animal descriptions). This highly interactive tool offers ease of usability for students and is attractively packaged to foster their desire to learn more, and has plenty to hook librarians and teachers. A sure hit.
Christina Connolly, formerly a reference librarian at NYPL, is a volunteer at the Midland Street School library, Worcester, MA.