Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Science Homework: Using netTrekker!

Today I visited Mr. Montgomery’s 6th grade science class. Students talked about last night’s homework and their successful and challenging searches. Here are a few tips for using netTrekker:

1. Check your spelling. Then check it again!

2. Try searching for variations on your search terms: broader and narrower terms (e.g. if “dog” is your search term, “canine” would be broader, “poodle” would be narrower)

3. Can your search term mean more than one thing? E.g. “scale” can refer to music, or a piece of scientific equipment, or a mathematical model, or drawing and painting. If this happens and you get too many off-topic hits, add another keyword to narrow down your results.

4. Instead of using the search box, use the main contents page to locate what you need! It is often faster and more efficient.

5. Remember, when you use the search box in netTrekker, it does NOT search through the full contents of every website on the Internet! It searches the name and description of the sites it indexes.

E.g. one netTrekker site that contains a pH scale showing ammonia is Chem 1: The pH scale. netTrekker’s description says “Acting as an overview from the General Chemistry Virtual Textbook, this site explores the pH scale and its characteristics including a chart mapping the various levels of the scale.”

If you search for “pH of ammonia” you get no matches because the word “ammonia” doesn’t appear in the name or the description of this site or any of the others! But if you search for “pH scale” this site will be your first hit!

Remember the list of subjects on the main page? You can also find this site and others by following the table of contents:

Science > Chemistry > Acids and Bases > pH > Scale

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