Welcome to Study Hall! The Internet can be a great resource as long as you know how to use it. Here you will find tips for effective web research to help you get the most out of the Internet.


Cyber Defender & Databank Supervisor

Because of her unquenchable thirst for knowledge, Maya started out as a librarian. While she loved her job, she wanted to do more to help protect people.

Since Cyber Villains such as Ms. Information and Elvirus can corrupt websites and the information on them, Maya teaches people to protect themselves by using caution when visiting websites and avoiding sites that are not trustworthy.

Favorite Quote:

Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime
- Chinese Proverb

Favorite Food:

Anything chocolate


Browsing bookstores, baking

December 16, 2010

Using The Web: Educational Web Sites

There are a TON of fantastic educational sites on the Internet these days. You know, like this one, for example! Here is a quick list of some of the other top sites for smart kids like you.

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

September 9, 2010

Using The Web: Homework Websites

Welcome back to school, cadets. I hope you all like homework, because thatís what youíre getting! Hereís a list of great websites that can help you figure out those tough homework questions:

Just remember, give it your best and donít be afraid of tough questions! Nothing worth having is ever gained easily, and thereís nothing better than a good education!

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

May 25, 2010

Using The Web: Video Games

I have a confession. Iím a gamer. I love video games! My local library started carrying some newer games, too! I still prefer books, but every now and then a little video game action is the perfect way to spend an hour. Here are some websites featuring great video games.

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

April 26, 2010

Using The Web: Cooking Sites

Oh no! My family asked me to host Mother's Day dinner this year and I have no idea how to cook. Luckily, I have the Internet to teach me! Here are some helpful Web sites in case you find yourself in a similar situation.

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

March 30, 2010

Using the Web: News Sites

You canít believe everything you read, especially on the Internet! Luckily, there are still a few Web sites out there on which you can find reliable news. Remember, though Ė no matter how hard they try to stay neutral, every journalist is biased towards or against something!

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

January 19, 2010

Using the Web: Language Sites

Konichiwa! °Hola! Marhaba! Hello!

Here are some great Web sites to help us communicate with people who don't share our language:

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

December 21 2009

Using the Web: The Environment

I was talking to Trey about his holiday plans, but all he wanted to talk about was how to make everyone's celebrations green! To be honest, I never even thought about the environmental problems all the lights and fake trees cause. I feel so guilty! I need to make up for this somehow, so here are some Web sites that have some great environmental information:

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

October 20 2009

Using the Web: Mechanics

Have you ever thrown a toaster out of a window? Neither have I, but yesterday I came close! No matter what setting I turn it to, my toast always comes out blacker than Elvirus' wardrobe! Luckily, I calmed myself down enough to realize that I knew a few Web sites that might help me fix my broken toaster. Here are a few great sources to use for all your mechanical problems.

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

September 17 2009

Using the Web: Insects and Animals

Imagine my horror when I opened my favorite book this week only to find it filled with silverfish! What's a silverfish, you ask? Why don't you tell me! Here are some great Web sites with information about animals and insects:

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

June 9 2009

Using the Web: Science & Nature

The Internet is just full of wonderful science and nature Web sites, where you can learn about anything, from outer space to what’s in your own backyard. I especially like these ones:

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

May 12 2009

Using the Web: Museums & Science Centers

Some museums and science centers have such wonderful Web sites, visiting them is almost as cool as going to the actual museum! Here are some of my favorites:

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

April 14 2009

Using the Web: Specialist TV Channels

You might be surprised to find that some cable television channels and radio programs actually have really useful and informative Web sites. Specialist channels and programs that focus on one specific subject frequently use their Web site to expand on the stories and information they broadcast. These are also generally reliable sources that have done their research and checked their sources.

Next time you have a project with a specific subject, why not try and find some of your research on a TV channel or radio program's Web site? Here's just a few:

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

March 17 2009

Using the Web: Libraries

I love libraries, there's something so comforting and inspiring about being around all that knowledge, history, and creativity. But I remember well from my days as a librarian that it can be incredibly frustrating when your library doesn't have the book you need. That's why I love the Internet. Libraries around the whole world can make their catalogs and materials available on the Web, and all you have to do is visit their Web site!

If you're looking for a specific book, CD, or video, WorldCat.org lets you search through the catalogs of the libraries in your area. Depending on the library, you might even be able to check the book out online or view a digital version of the book. In addition to their book catalog, some library sites also have useful information like research tips and homework help.

Here's just a few online library sites you might find useful:

  • Library of Congress - has electronic versions of a number of their books in their Digital Collections section, as well as resources for kids in their Kids and Families section
  • America's Library - presented by the Library of Congress, this site is full of information about American history
  • Internet Public Library - an online public library developed and maintained by university students, you can also ask a librarian a question or research by topic in the KidSpace section
  • Librarian's Internet Index - a collection of links to useful research sites that have been selected by a team of librarians

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

February 10 2009

Using the Web: Online Dictionaries and Thesauruses

dic-tio-nary - noun: a reference source in print or electronic form containing words usually alphabetically arranged along with information about their forms, pronunciations, functions, etymologies, meanings, and syntactical and idiomatic uses (from Merriam-Webster).

Looking for a good dictionary or thesaurus online? I can't even remember the last time I used an actual dictionary or thesaurus book. There are so many useful dictionary sites right at your fingertips! Here's just a few:

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

January 13 2009

Using the Web: Online Encyclopedias

Before the Internet was so big, my favorite resource to start researching a topic was the library's encyclopedias. They have an overview of the topic and are a great starting point because they can help you figure out what to research in greater detail.

Now that the Internet is so large and comprehensive, most encyclopedia companies have put their content online and made it freely available to anyone. Because it's on Web pages, they can also have all sorts of multimedia content that wouldn't normally be available with a book, such as streaming videos and animations.

There are a number of online encyclopedias out there, so you want to be selective about which ones you use and make sure the information is reliable. Companies that published encyclopedias before the Internet was so big, such as Encyclopedia Britannica, Encarta, and World Book Encyclopedia, are probably a safe bet. You can also use sites where the content is user-generated, such as Wikipedia. Since anyone can submit content to these sites, there will probably be a lot more topics but you'll have to take the extra step in verifying that the information is correct.

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

November 25 2008

Using the Web: Online Shopping Reliability

With the holidays coming up, it's a good time to start thinking about gifts. I prefer to do all my shopping online because I can find a wider variety of items and don't have to battle with the crowds of people at the store. You usually need a credit card to buy things online, so be sure to have a trusted adult with you and take measures to protect your personal information.

Here are a few tips that will help you be a better, safer online shopper:

  • Try to stick with stores you know, especially ones that have actual, real-life locations, as well as Web sites
  • If it's a new store, try to find reviews from other customers about their experiences with it. You can look on sites like the Better Business Bureau and BizRate for reviews and complaints
  • Look for companies that have a customer satisfaction policy and try to fix customer complaints or difficulties quickly and fairly, without charging them money
  • Make sure the site has contact information and an acceptable privacy policy posted
  • If the site requires you to register an account to buy something, use a strong alias and password
  • Before registering, read through the privacy policy to make sure it says they will not share private information with others without your consent
  • Check to see if they belong to any privacy seal programs that help ensure they won't do anything bad with your personal information or credit card data. Some common ones are BBBOnLine and TRUSTe
  • If site has credit card transactions, make sure they are encrypted and secure. You can check for a security seal like Verisign, or see if the URL on the payment screen starts with HTTPS, indicating it is protected by a Secure Sockets Layer, or SSL
  • Remember to print or save any records or receipts related to your online shopping

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web, Finding Reliable Sites

October 28 2008

Using the Web: Researching the candidates' records

During an election race, candidates may sound like they are telling you exactly what you want to hear, trying to convince you that they understand you and your needs better than the opponent. It's important to think about the candidates as people who have a history of making decisions, and not just who they are right now.

One way you can learn more about the candidates is to research their records, including what decisions they have made, their failures and accomplishments, and where they have stood on issues in the past.

In this particular election, both the presidential candidates are Senators so their histories include voting records for many bills in Congress. You can research their voting history to get a good idea of which issues are important to them, how often they work with members of the other party, and how often they voted with or against their party.

The records can help indicate how carefully the candidates think about the issues and how willing they are to ignore party politics (disagreements between the Republican and Democratic political parties) if they feel strongly about an issue. OnTheIssues.org has information on several politicians and how they have voted on past issues.

Sometimes a candidate is new to the political scene and so might not have a lengthy record. In that case, you look at the person's entire history, which can show you a lot about a person's intentions and where they stand on the issues. This is especially important when questions about a candidate's lack of experience are brought up.

Regardless of a person's voting record or history, however, it's possible for people to change their position on an issue in the future. But you can still get a pretty good idea of what their core values are, and this can help you decide which candidate has values similar to your own.

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

September 16 2008

Using the Web: Research for Online Games

It can be very frustrating trying to keep up with other players when you're just getting started playing a new online game. Many online games are very complex. There are many different strategies for creating the best avatar and accomplishing tasks quickly and effectively. While you can ask other players in the game for advice, one of the best ways for you to learn is by visiting a forum, which is the game’s community discussion board.

On forums, players can share their stories and talk about strategies for getting better at the game or issues they are experiencing. Sometimes if you are having a problem or the game is not working right on your computer, you can use the forum to find other players having the same problem. Together, you might be able to figure it out. The people who made the game also visit the forums, so it can be a good way to let them know about a problem they could fix.

Most Web forums allow you to freely read what other players have posted. But, they require you to register a forum account if you want to post to them. This may not be the same account that you use to log in to the game, so be sure to check. When you register a forum account, make sure you don’t include any personal information! Use an email address that is specifically for your gaming accounts. Read the forum guidelines so you know the rules before posting anything.

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

February 7 2008

Research Challenge: Sources for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day is a late comer holiday. It wasn't even associated with love and romance until Geoffrey Chaucer's time in the Middle Ages. February, however, has long been a month associated with fertility.

In ancient Rome a Lupercalia festival was traditionally held in the middle of the month. People cleaned their houses from winter grim. The priests would sacrifice animals in a cave that they believed was once the home for the founders of Rome. Young men would then run through the town, slapping women with strips of hide in the belief that it would make them more fertile. Other cultures have similar customs centered around increasing the fertility of the land and the people who live on it.

What other traditions are associated with Valentine's Day? Try using the Internet to research more of the history of this most romantic holiday.

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web, Research Challenge

November 30 2007

Holiday Shopping

December is almost upon us. Do you know what you are going to get your family and friends for the holidays? Shopping online is a great place to get started. Just make sure you have a trusted adult help you with when you place your orders! Or just use the Internet to learn about what you want to get and go pick it up at a normal store.

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

November 9 2007

Research Challenge: Meaning of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is about more than just a Turkey dinner or pilgrims and Native Americans getting together to share a meal. Did you know that Thanksgiving is also a day of thanks for having the opportunity to peaceably establish a government for the safety and happiness of United States citizens? Or that it is a reflection of a fall festival held since humanity was young?

As the holidays come up why don't you do your own Internet research on them? You may learn something new about the traditions your family regularly holds.

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web, Research Challenge

October 18 2007

Halloween Scares

In the weeks before Halloween I like to search the Internet for scary Web sites. Sometimes I find tips on creating aliens in bottles or a batch of roasted pumpkin seeds. It gives me great ideas for things to do for the holiday. I sometimes even find my costume online!

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web

September 28 2007

Research Challenge: Ghost Stories

Don't you love ghost stories? I do! I have a contest every year with my students to use the library and the Internet to find the best true ghost story. I am continually amazed by what they find out.

Why don't you try it yourself? See if you can't find something out there that gives you the chills!

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web, Research Challenge

September 18 2007

The Hunt Continues

Everyone has been dropping by to ask for my help on the scavenger hunt. While I know the answers and how to find them, I want the cadets to learn how to ask the right questions. It's all about looking at the problem from the right angle.

If you want to know information about something, ask yourself first what you do know about it and how you can use that to learn more. That's what Alexi did when she was conducting her research.

posted by Maya
topic: Using the Web, Research Tips