"School bells ringing, children singing ... "
For most students, school bells mean the end of summer and the start of the homework season. Lugging books back and forth. Long evenings staring at impenetrable algebra problems. In short, pain.
But in the information age, young scholars have a valuable new tool, the Internet. The World Wide Web brings the library to the living room, putting the research and knowledge of thousands of experts at students' fingertips. Of course, not all parents are crazy about the Internet and many worry about its unsavory side. But educators say the Net has an undeserved bad rap.
"The `dark side' of the Internet comprises only 2 (percent) to 3 percent of it," says librarian Ann O'Neill of Franklin High School in Reisterstown, Md. "That leaves an incredible amount of good stuff."
The problem is finding it quickly so students don't waste their study time surfing aimlessly.
To this end, we talked to educators and librarians and spent hours sifting though the digital flotsam on our own. The result is this list of great homework sites on the Web.
If you're a student, give these sites a look. If you're a parent, tell your kids about them -- and surf along -- you might learn something.
For wordsmiths, it doesn't get any better than this. Merriam Webster's Online Language Center has a great dictionary and thesaurus, plus entertaining and educational side trips.
When Webster's won't do. OneLook quickly queries more than 345 online specialized dictionaries -- everything from the Dictionary of Art Glass Terms to the Water Quality Dictionary -- to track down the meaning of an odd word.
Need to find that mot juste? The quickest, easiest way to dig up a synonym or antonym online.
Find out what the famous really said. But beware: This edition is from 1901, so don't expect to find quotes from the recently deceased.
A great free encyclopedia on the Web. More than 17,000 cross-linked articles from the Concise Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, Third Edition.
Find all the news that fits at this directory of online newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations.
University of Michigan Document Center
Need facts? This site contains statistics on everything from agriculture to tourism.
A repository of statistics from more than 70 government agencies.
Leave your calculator at school? If the kid next door won't lend you one, try this virtual model. You'll need a Java-enabled browser.
BCPL African-American Center Homework Page
The Baltimore County Public Library's online study guide to black history, politics and culture.
Art History Resources
This is the place on the Web to do art homework, with links to galleries, research sources and prints online.
Catalog of Classical Composers
Bach rocks. And so does this online guide to classical composers and their music.
The Biology Project
A super interactive resource for learning biology.
The Electronic Zoo
All animals, all the time.
Human Anatomy Online
Explore your insides with beautifully rendered graphics.
General Chemistry Online!
"Willy was a chemist. Willy is no more. Willy thought that H20 was H2SO4!" Don't get the joke? This informative site at Frostburg State University is the place to go.
Economics Education Web
This site built by the University of Nebraska at Omaha offers valuable economic education resources for all grade levels -- even teachers.
The On-Line Books Page
Read 'em and keep 'em: the full text of more than 7,000 volumes, from Henry Adams to Emile Zola.
The Elements of Style
The classic guide to effective prose for writers of all ages.
Writing Research Papers
Purdue University's Online Writing Lab has put together a step-by-step guide for writing research papers -- from the outline to the index.
The Human Languages Page
Links to more than 1,800 resources covering more than 100 languages.
Language Dictionaries and Translators
Need to look up a word in French, Afrikaans or Xhosa? This site links to language dictionaries all over the Net. Capiche?
ePALS Classroom Exchange
Need a language partner? ePals helps students find online pen pals in more than 70 countries.
Mr. Jenkins History Links
Your homework problems will be history once you see what Mr. Jenkins has put together for his students -- links to useful sites on U.S. and foreign history topics.
The American Presidency
Grolier Online designed this exclusive history of presidents, the presidency, politics and related subjects.
The Math Forum Student Center
This site is as elegant as a balanced equation, with information geared to students from elementary to graduate school. Visit chat rooms, where students solve problems together.
Help with algebra, trig, differential equations, calculus and other mysteries, compliments of the University of Texas-El Paso.
Eric's Treasure Troves of Physics
An encyclopedia of information about physics.
Teacher Brad Bowerman has a strange sense of humor -- and a great geography site for students.
Maps in the News
Find out where things in the news are happening.
Central Intelligence Agency's World Fact Book
Next time a teacher asks you about Zaire, score points by reminding her that it's now called Democratic Republic of Congo. Visit the CIA's meaty guide to foreign countries.
FOR YOUNGER STUDENTS
A group of librarians weeded out the useless stuff on the Web and came up with this valuable homework site.
Ask Jeeves for Kids
Young scholars can type in their questions in plain English, then Jeeves whisks them to the Web site that best matches their question.
B.J. Pinchbeck's Homework Helper
This handy Web guide for homework sufferers was designed by an 11-year-old and his dad.
The Yahoo of homework Web sites. It contains hundreds of links to research-quality information. A nice touch: Study Web rates content and approximate grade level.
It's research, "Jeopardy" style. Find what you need on the Web by starting with simple questions such as, "What is it?" or "Where is it?"
Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service