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Category: Education

The Benefits of a STEM Education

Benefits of Stem Education

In a job economy driven by rapidly changing technology, it’s more important than ever that our schools foster a love of learning. Starting our students on a steady dose of STEM curriculum in elementary primes them to become the inquisitive kiddos that lead to ambitious adults.

What does STEM stand for?

For anyone who’s seen the term STEM, but kept it on the periphery, here’s a bit of background. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Recently “arts” was added to the educational model, making STEAM an interchangeable term you might also hear.

In school, STEM or STEAM lessons are taught using an integrative approach that shows how each subject relates to and works with the others. This interdisciplinary instruction also closely mirrors how these concept applications function in the working world.

Educational Benefits of STEM

The sooner our students are exposed to STEM activities the better. During the elementary years, when their synapses are most impressionable, youngsters have an innate drive toward curiosity. STEAM programming prioritizes and encourages this curiosity, making lessons easier to internalize.

By making it accessible to anyone, STEM education benefits everyone in the classroom by:

Reducing lesson and testing anxiety. The principles of STEM diminish stress by putting the focus on the student’s ability to learn and grow, encouraging a belief in oneself.

Making it okay to fail. Our mistakes are powerful teachers. When the environment is safe and welcoming, students don’t fear punishment of failure and learn to view it as an opportunity to simply explore or try new things.

Prioritizing the 4 C’s. No matter their age, whatever their job title, they’re going to need to know how to interact well with others. STEAM helps develop the necessary 21st-century learning skills including creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.

Helping them apply meaning. STEM curriculum is engaging and motivates students to think through real world-inspired scenarios. Taught in this way, the concepts make more sense and students are able to understand the value and purpose. This depth of knowledge also leads to a greater understanding of each pillar.

STEM Career Opportunities

According to the STEM Diversity at the University of Wisconsin Madison,“By 2018, it’s predicted that 8.65 million STEM jobs will exist. Nevertheless, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a drastic shortage of almost 600,000 potential candidates for those jobs.”

So job security is almost guaranteed, but pursuing a STEM career doesn’t necessarily mean students will automatically be chained to a MIT laboratory or relegated to Silicon Valley. STEM is everywhere, permeating just about every fathomable industry.

Contrary to some of the stereotypes, STEM-led disciplines include everything from product development for the fashion industry to Legoland Designer! (And what little boy wouldn’t leap out of his chair for that job?!)

In short, there’s no better way to equip students for their life journey than to turn them into lifelong learners. Once they master this skill, there’s no realm, be it higher education or the real world, which they can’t conquer.

 AUTHOR BIO:

Dave Monaco has worked in education for 24 years and counting. He has put his M.A.T. to great use as the Head of School at Parish Episcopal School and helps Parish live out their mission to guide young people to become creative learners and bold leaders who will impact our global society. With his philosophy to “engage the mind, connect to the heart,” this father of three will continue bringing order to chaos one day at a time.

In a job economy driven by rapidly changing technology, it’s more important than ever that our schools foster a love of learning. Starting our students on a steady dose of STEM curriculum in elementary primes them to become the inquisitive kiddos that lead to ambitious adults.

What does STEM stand for?

For anyone who’s seen the term STEM, but kept it on the periphery, here’s a bit of background. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Recently “arts” was added to the educational model, making STEAM an interchangeable term you might also hear.

In school, STEM or STEAM lessons are taught using an integrative approach that shows how each subject relates to and works with the others. This interdisciplinary instruction also closely mirrors how these concept applications function in the working world.

Educational Benefits of STEM

The sooner our students are exposed to STEM activities the better. During the elementary years, when their synapses are most impressionable, youngsters have an innate drive toward curiosity. STEAM programming prioritizes and encourages this curiosity, making lessons easier to internalize.

By making it accessible to anyone, STEM education benefits everyone in the classroom by:

Reducing lesson and testing anxiety. The principles of STEM diminish stress by putting the focus on the student’s ability to learn and grow, encouraging a belief in oneself.

Making it okay to fail. Our mistakes are powerful teachers. When the environment is safe and welcoming, students don’t fear punishment of failure and learn to view it as an opportunity to simply explore or try new things.

Prioritizing the 4 C’s. No matter their age, whatever their job title, they’re going to need to know how to interact well with others. STEAM helps develop the necessary 21st-century learning skills including creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.

Helping them apply meaning. STEM curriculum is engaging and motivates students to think through real world-inspired scenarios. Taught in this way, the concepts make more sense and students are able to understand the value and purpose. This depth of knowledge also leads to a greater understanding of each pillar.

STEM Career Opportunities

According to the STEM Diversity at the University of Wisconsin Madison,“By 2018, it’s predicted that 8.65 million STEM jobs will exist. Nevertheless, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a drastic shortage of almost 600,000 potential candidates for those jobs.”

So job security is almost guaranteed, but pursuing a STEM career doesn’t necessarily mean students will automatically be chained to a MIT laboratory or relegated to Silicon Valley. STEM is everywhere, permeating just about every fathomable industry.

Contrary to some of the stereotypes, STEM-led disciplines include everything from product development for the fashion industry to Legoland Designer! (And what little boy wouldn’t leap out of his chair for that job?!)

In short, there’s no better way to equip students for their life journey than to turn them into lifelong learners. Once they master this skill, there’s no realm, be it higher education or the real world, which they can’t conquer.

 AUTHOR BIO:

Dave Monaco has worked in education for 24 years and counting. He has put his M.A.T. to great use as the Head of School at Parish Episcopal School and helps Parish live out their mission to guide young people to become creative learners and bold leaders who will impact our global society. With his philosophy to “engage the mind, connect to the heart,” this father of three will continue bringing order to chaos one day at a time.

What a Black Hole Discovery Can Teach Us

First Ever Black Hole Pic

As long as we walk this earth, one thing we should all discover is this. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. That’s a quote from Aristotle, the Greek philosopher who lived over 2300 years ago. It basically means that no matter how much we learn in school as kids and later in life as adults, we’ll find there’s always more to learn about everything.

If we decide that we know everything there is to know and stop being opening to learning, we become ignorant and miss out so much that our wonderful world has to teach us.

As smart as Aristotle was, many things have been discovered in the hundreds of years since he lived. Many great philosophers and scientists have followed, and each one as built upon the knowledge of people who have gone before them.

The First Image of a Black Hole

Recently, the world’s greatest scientists of our day were finally able to create a real picture of a block hole. It was an amazing achievement and incredible discovery.  It confirmed many theories about the existence of black holes and how they work. It also proved that Albert Einstein was right about his Theory of General Relativity regarding the relationship between space and time.

The image also proved that recent scientific calculations about black holes were correct. This discovery, however, is more than a story about the advancement of technology that allowed humans to see an actual black hole for the first time. It’s also a story of how many scientists from all over the world worked together for many years to achieve this great feat.

For one, just to make the now famous black hole photograph took many observatories from all over the world working together to create one virtual telescope the size of our earth.

How Far Away is the Photographed Black Hole?

The black hole is located in the center of galaxy M87, which is about 55 million light years from earth. This means that light traveling from that point in space takes 55 million years to be seen on earth.

Think about it. The image we see of the block hole is like looking into the past. It’s light that started a journey to planet earth millions of years ago. Light from our sun takes an average of 8 minutes and 20 seconds.

The black hole has been named Powehi, which means ‘adorned fathomless dark creation’. Black holes have always fascinated scientists and students of astronomy because a black hole actually isn’t a hole. It’s a place in space containing a lot of matter closely packed together. It has accumulated so much gravity, that not even light can escape it. Therefore, it’s always black, even if it sucked our sun into it. And the black hole Powehi could easily do that because it’s about the same size as our entire solar system.

More Discoveries Yet to Come

While the first image of a real black hole confirms many theories that were calculated using mathematics, (see NASA Education’s Black Hole Math the Students), scientists are the first to point out that this great discovery is the beginning of many more discoveries yet to come.

Producing the black hole image took over 200 scientists working together from all over the world. They all would be the first to tell you that as much as we know about the Universe, there is so much more we don’t know.

The lessons we learn from the first image of a black hole are many. One important lesson is to always keep learning. You never know what amazing discovery you will find.

As long as we walk this earth, one thing we should all discover is this. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. That’s a quote from Aristotle, the Greek philosopher who lived over 2300 years ago. It basically means that no matter how much we learn in school as kids and later in life as adults, we’ll find there’s always more to learn about everything.

If we decide that we know everything there is to know and stop being opening to learning, we become ignorant and miss out so much that our wonderful world has to teach us.

As smart as Aristotle was, many things have been discovered in the hundreds of years since he lived. Many great philosophers and scientists have followed, and each one as built upon the knowledge of people who have gone before them.

The First Image of a Black Hole

Recently, the world’s greatest scientists of our day were finally able to create a real picture of a block hole. It was an amazing achievement and incredible discovery.  It confirmed many theories about the existence of black holes and how they work. It also proved that Albert Einstein was right about his Theory of General Relativity regarding the relationship between space and time.

The image also proved that recent scientific calculations about black holes were correct. This discovery, however, is more than a story about the advancement of technology that allowed humans to see an actual black hole for the first time. It’s also a story of how many scientists from all over the world worked together for many years to achieve this great feat.

For one, just to make the now famous black hole photograph took many observatories from all over the world working together to create one virtual telescope the size of our earth.

How Far Away is the Photographed Black Hole?

The black hole is located in the center of galaxy M87, which is about 55 million light years from earth. This means that light traveling from that point in space takes 55 million years to be seen on earth.

Think about it. The image we see of the block hole is like looking into the past. It’s light that started a journey to planet earth millions of years ago. Light from our sun takes an average of 8 minutes and 20 seconds.

The black hole has been named Powehi, which means ‘adorned fathomless dark creation’. Black holes have always fascinated scientists and students of astronomy because a black hole actually isn’t a hole. It’s a place in space containing a lot of matter closely packed together. It has accumulated so much gravity, that not even light can escape it. Therefore, it’s always black, even if it sucked our sun into it. And the black hole Powehi could easily do that because it’s about the same size as our entire solar system.

More Discoveries Yet to Come

While the first image of a real black hole confirms many theories that were calculated using mathematics, (see NASA Education’s Black Hole Math the Students), scientists are the first to point out that this great discovery is the beginning of many more discoveries yet to come.

Producing the black hole image took over 200 scientists working together from all over the world. They all would be the first to tell you that as much as we know about the Universe, there is so much more we don’t know.

The lessons we learn from the first image of a black hole are many. One important lesson is to always keep learning. You never know what amazing discovery you will find.

How UK Schools Deal with Cell Phones

Cell Phones in UK Schools

Teachers have always had to fight for the attention of their students. Not long ago they would only be dealing with gossip, note passing, and the occasional trading card. The latest distraction of the mobile phone in the classroom can often be much more difficult to control.

Some teachers have even reported children watching Netflix in the middle of class. There a varying opinions on what should be done regarding the use of mobiles phones by students.

How UK Schools Approach Mobile Phones

Some countries – notably France – have strict laws against cell phone use in schools. There are no laws in the UK that prohibit children from using them. The decision on how to deal with phones is left to individual schools. It can get confusing and certainly far from consistent. Some schools do ban them outright, and then there are other schools that embrace phones as a teaching aid and encourage kids to use them as part of their schoolwork.

In Shiplake College in Henley-on-Thames for example, children that use their mobile phones between 8:15 and 5:45 are given a detention. The headmaster of the school, Gregg Davies, admits that phones can be a great tool, but he found children were being distracted and even losing their ability to communicate in person. The use of cell phones in school was therefore dropped since the policy was introduced.

Then there is Brighton College, where students are encouraged to play games like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit during free periods, instead of using their cell phones. The move is an effort to encourage pupils to socialize with each other more without having to use mobile devices. There are also varying bans on phones where certain pupils are allowed them on certain days of the week; effectively weaning students off their phones over time.

How Phones can Help

The reality is that phones aren’t all bad and studies have shown that banning mobile phones can help in education. Students say that having their phones on hand can improve their engagement, motivation, productivity, and creativity. Some teachers also believe that mobile phones can help, and there have been successful integrations into the classroom.

Mobile phones can give students all the information that they could ever need. A phone by itself can educate students and there lots of phone apps that are even encouraged by schools, particularly those that build relaxation skills and help students find resources. The potential for phones as a learning tool is practically endless.

The Law on Confiscating Mobile Phones

One thing to consider is this; who is responsible if a phone is confiscated and then gets lost or damaged? Would it be the teacher who confiscated the phone, the student who brought it to the school, or the school itself?

Legally, the school has indeed taken possession of the phone. However, in the UK, Section 94 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 says that neither the teacher or the school is responsible for loss or damage of items confiscated as a form of punishment. It also provides no statutory liability for items that are lost in other ways.

There are a few caveats though. The disciplinary penalty has to be lawful; it has to be reasonable and proportionate to the “crime”. Schools must also clearly communicate their policy on mobile phones to students. The school can get in trouble if the pupil who has their phone confiscated was not aware this could happen. Also, teachers are expected to take reasonable care to ensure that items they confiscate are safe, such as storing them securely in the staff room. At the end of the day, unfortunately for the students – the law is ultimately on the side of the teachers and schools.

Should Schools Ban Mobile Phones?

Matt Hancock – the Culture Secretary for the UK – says that more schools need to ban mobile phones. He admires headmasters who don’t allow students to use their phones and believes social media can facilitate bullying. He personally doesn’t allow his children to own their own phones and use social media, but doesn’t think it is the responsibility of the government to legislate against children using phones and technology. He believes it is up to parents and schools to do the right thing, rather than being told to do so by the government.

Schools are all handling cell phone use in their own way. Some are for them and some are against their use. The Culture secretary himself is against them, but doesn’t plan on attempting to introduce legislation to prohibit them.

Read more about kids and cell phones, including Cell Phone Safely Tips.

Teachers have always had to fight for the attention of their students. Not long ago they would only be dealing with gossip, note passing, and the occasional trading card. The latest distraction of the mobile phone in the classroom can often be much more difficult to control.

Some teachers have even reported children watching Netflix in the middle of class. There a varying opinions on what should be done regarding the use of mobiles phones by students.

How UK Schools Approach Mobile Phones

Some countries – notably France – have strict laws against cell phone use in schools. There are no laws in the UK that prohibit children from using them. The decision on how to deal with phones is left to individual schools. It can get confusing and certainly far from consistent. Some schools do ban them outright, and then there are other schools that embrace phones as a teaching aid and encourage kids to use them as part of their schoolwork.

In Shiplake College in Henley-on-Thames for example, children that use their mobile phones between 8:15 and 5:45 are given a detention. The headmaster of the school, Gregg Davies, admits that phones can be a great tool, but he found children were being distracted and even losing their ability to communicate in person. The use of cell phones in school was therefore dropped since the policy was introduced.

Then there is Brighton College, where students are encouraged to play games like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit during free periods, instead of using their cell phones. The move is an effort to encourage pupils to socialize with each other more without having to use mobile devices. There are also varying bans on phones where certain pupils are allowed them on certain days of the week; effectively weaning students off their phones over time.

How Phones can Help

The reality is that phones aren’t all bad and studies have shown that banning mobile phones can help in education. Students say that having their phones on hand can improve their engagement, motivation, productivity, and creativity. Some teachers also believe that mobile phones can help, and there have been successful integrations into the classroom.

Mobile phones can give students all the information that they could ever need. A phone by itself can educate students and there lots of phone apps that are even encouraged by schools, particularly those that build relaxation skills and help students find resources. The potential for phones as a learning tool is practically endless.

The Law on Confiscating Mobile Phones

One thing to consider is this; who is responsible if a phone is confiscated and then gets lost or damaged? Would it be the teacher who confiscated the phone, the student who brought it to the school, or the school itself?

Legally, the school has indeed taken possession of the phone. However, in the UK, Section 94 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 says that neither the teacher or the school is responsible for loss or damage of items confiscated as a form of punishment. It also provides no statutory liability for items that are lost in other ways.

There are a few caveats though. The disciplinary penalty has to be lawful; it has to be reasonable and proportionate to the “crime”. Schools must also clearly communicate their policy on mobile phones to students. The school can get in trouble if the pupil who has their phone confiscated was not aware this could happen. Also, teachers are expected to take reasonable care to ensure that items they confiscate are safe, such as storing them securely in the staff room. At the end of the day, unfortunately for the students – the law is ultimately on the side of the teachers and schools.

Should Schools Ban Mobile Phones?

Matt Hancock – the Culture Secretary for the UK – says that more schools need to ban mobile phones. He admires headmasters who don’t allow students to use their phones and believes social media can facilitate bullying. He personally doesn’t allow his children to own their own phones and use social media, but doesn’t think it is the responsibility of the government to legislate against children using phones and technology. He believes it is up to parents and schools to do the right thing, rather than being told to do so by the government.

Schools are all handling cell phone use in their own way. Some are for them and some are against their use. The Culture secretary himself is against them, but doesn’t plan on attempting to introduce legislation to prohibit them.

Read more about kids and cell phones, including Cell Phone Safely Tips.

Wiki for Kids – The Filtered Wikipedia

Our Wikipedia for Kids search resource is located on the top of our new website for easy access along with our additional safe search tools.

Wiki for Kids is a filtered Wikipedia resource that provides articles in Simple English. It is similar to Wikipedia’s Simple Edition with the added benefit that our site filters out content that is not appropriate for children and teens.

The internet is a very valuable and powerful tool, putting a world of information at our fingertips. The web has definitely changed the world, including the way kids do their research for school, homeschooling, or general curiosity.

We have partnered with the KidzSearch Wiki to safely meet these needs.

Students at home and in school need access to tools that are designed to provide results that are:

  • Safe – because potentially inappropriate images and text should be filtered out. It’s a no brainer.
  • Readable — because it’s good to widen your vocabulary, but new information should also be easy to understand instead of overwhelming for young children.
  • Accurate — because if there’s ever a place that attracts misinformation, it would definitely be called the internet.

Those are three of the many reasons why parents and teachers have to do their own research before putting a child in front of the keyboard for some fun, modern learning.

About Wikipedia (Simple English Edition):

Wikipedia is a free open content online encyclopedia where people from anywhere in the world can contribute information on any topic in different languages. Wiki articles can be edited to make corrections as well. The Simple Edition of Wikipedia uses words and grammar that is ideal for children, and also provides a shorter more concise version of the original article.

Wikipedia is not considered a 100% credible source of authority information for academic research, because it has been created as an easily accessible index and/or textual condensation of primary and secondary sources for information about anything and everything.

Since Wikipedia can be updated by any person, at any time, parents and teachers should instruct children to confirm information through reliable sources.

Examples of reliable sources include published works, almanacs, guide books, survey articles, timelines, and user guides. A scholar may also use a bibliography, dictionary, or encyclopedia as either a textual condensation or a secondary source.

With that being said, Wiki for Kids can be a good starting point for ‘easy to access’ child-oriented research. While it’s important that kids use a second source with more authority and credibility on the topic, Simple Wikipedia Edition is also great for young minds because:

  • The information you are researching will be there in one easy to navigate online encyclopedia.
  • It will definitely help you understand where you can look for more information on that topic.
  • Since the language (words and grammar) used is much simpler and easier to understand, Wiki for Kids is ideal for young children who are already learning something new and challenging.

So now that we’ve established the free benefits and expected limitations of Wikipedia, here is some information to help kids explore a topic.

Online Research Tips for Kids:

  • Anytime you write or publish information that you found online, you must include a citation for the original resource. Give credit where credit is due!
  • Cross check facts using multiple sources, and choose the most reliable source for your citation.
  • Avoid downloading any programs or images that you find online until you check with an adult first.
  • Learn about online safety to keep from clicking links to inappropriate sites.
  • Advertisements on the internet are deceiving by design. You have not won anything!
  • Never give out your personal information on the internet.
  • When creating usernames, do not include like your name or birth date. This counts for giving out personal information.
  • When in doubt, ask for help!
  • Embrace safe learning!

Conduct a Safe Wiki for Kids search at the top of our website.

Our Wikipedia for Kids search resource is located on the top of our new website for easy access along with our additional safe search tools.

Wiki for Kids is a filtered Wikipedia resource that provides articles in Simple English. It is similar to Wikipedia’s Simple Edition with the added benefit that our site filters out content that is not appropriate for children and teens.

The internet is a very valuable and powerful tool, putting a world of information at our fingertips. The web has definitely changed the world, including the way kids do their research for school, homeschooling, or general curiosity.

We have partnered with the KidzSearch Wiki to safely meet these needs.

Students at home and in school need access to tools that are designed to provide results that are:

  • Safe – because potentially inappropriate images and text should be filtered out. It’s a no brainer.
  • Readable — because it’s good to widen your vocabulary, but new information should also be easy to understand instead of overwhelming for young children.
  • Accurate — because if there’s ever a place that attracts misinformation, it would definitely be called the internet.

Those are three of the many reasons why parents and teachers have to do their own research before putting a child in front of the keyboard for some fun, modern learning.

About Wikipedia (Simple English Edition):

Wikipedia is a free open content online encyclopedia where people from anywhere in the world can contribute information on any topic in different languages. Wiki articles can be edited to make corrections as well. The Simple Edition of Wikipedia uses words and grammar that is ideal for children, and also provides a shorter more concise version of the original article.

Wikipedia is not considered a 100% credible source of authority information for academic research, because it has been created as an easily accessible index and/or textual condensation of primary and secondary sources for information about anything and everything.

Since Wikipedia can be updated by any person, at any time, parents and teachers should instruct children to confirm information through reliable sources.

Examples of reliable sources include published works, almanacs, guide books, survey articles, timelines, and user guides. A scholar may also use a bibliography, dictionary, or encyclopedia as either a textual condensation or a secondary source.

With that being said, Wiki for Kids can be a good starting point for ‘easy to access’ child-oriented research. While it’s important that kids use a second source with more authority and credibility on the topic, Simple Wikipedia Edition is also great for young minds because:

  • The information you are researching will be there in one easy to navigate online encyclopedia.
  • It will definitely help you understand where you can look for more information on that topic.
  • Since the language (words and grammar) used is much simpler and easier to understand, Wiki for Kids is ideal for young children who are already learning something new and challenging.

So now that we’ve established the free benefits and expected limitations of Wikipedia, here is some information to help kids explore a topic.

Online Research Tips for Kids:

  • Anytime you write or publish information that you found online, you must include a citation for the original resource. Give credit where credit is due!
  • Cross check facts using multiple sources, and choose the most reliable source for your citation.
  • Avoid downloading any programs or images that you find online until you check with an adult first.
  • Learn about online safety to keep from clicking links to inappropriate sites.
  • Advertisements on the internet are deceiving by design. You have not won anything!
  • Never give out your personal information on the internet.
  • When creating usernames, do not include like your name or birth date. This counts for giving out personal information.
  • When in doubt, ask for help!
  • Embrace safe learning!

Conduct a Safe Wiki for Kids search at the top of our website.