Saturday, February 15, 2014

Search Engines

Here are 6 different search engines that I looked into and my thoughts about them.

1) WolframAlpha was the one we all had to research. It is a computational knowledge engine, which means that it can help you understand and solve math problems (with immediate step-by-step instructions and sums). Yet, math isn't all that this search engine can help you with. You can also research grammar, culture, history, physics, etc. It's free, and I'm so glad I know about this now.

2) is my second search engine to highlight. It's designed for kids and should protect them from uncovering more than they intended to see when doing research. That's exciting for me because I'm a 1st grade teacher and a mother and I shudder at the thought of my students searching for an image to include in a powerpoint project to enhance it and having inappropriate images pop up before them. It also offers homework help, etc.

3) is another search engine that is protective, still offering excellent results to search questions, but protecting the elementary students who use it. It also offers lesson plans for teachers, which is nice.

4) is monitored by librarians (should be safe for your users) and produces links to many appropriate web sites. This search engine allows you to search by reading level as well, so it could be a nice tool for 1st grade teachers when hunting leveled reading materials, and to use with parents during conferences to show them how to locate reading material on their student's individual reading level.

5) has the cutest little child illustration when you go to it. It says it is created for kids, by kids. It would be great for young users to feel comfortable using. I think I may introduce this alongside AVL for my 1st grade students to use on our next research project.

6) is another kids search engine. It has visual icons on the side to help categorize the search topic you want to research. It has history, music, sports and recreation, animals, and computers/games/online. I was unable to find any results when I searched "Winter Olympics Sochi" though, which makes me doubt how good this search engine is. I could find "Winter Olympics" results, but it was only a 1998 Women's Hockey link.

As you can see, while I searched for search engines, I had the focus of looking for search engines that are safe and designed for children to use. I teach 1st grade and have young children (10, 5, and one on the way) and I want to be able to introduce all these children to technology and how helpful it can be without risking their innocence. That can be tricky when there is so much bad mixed in with the good on the internet. My hope is that by using these kid centered search engines that we can do interest based research to create projects and learn without limiting their technology exposure, yet at the same time without exposing them to inappropriate images/content as well. I don't know if that is entirely possible, because even these safe search engines offer links to pages that have advertisements or other stories they could link to with visuals that could be harmful. It's troublesome to me, but I just hope that I can instill in the students and my own children the need to be responsible for their own actions and to avoid perusing things that could be "bad for their brains." We'll see!

KidRex search engine webpage


  1. Like yourself, I evaluated search engines geared toward younger users. We actually viewed two of the same ones, KidRex and KidsClick! Have you thought about sharing your evaluations with other teachers? I shared mine with all the teachers in my building and even had one teacher this afternoon tell me she was adding my post to her classroom website for her students and parents. I am glad to see another classmate considering the younger users.

    1. Hey Angel! No, I hadn't thought to share it, but now I just might. We have a school blog that I could add this post to. It might be helpful and perhaps our teachers would use it too. :) Thanks for the great idea!

  2. Mary that was an excellent post and I loved the way you geared it toward education and the level of students you teach. This way you can use any of those search engines that you like when going over a lesson concerning technology.

    I would also be a little concerned about the advertisements as you are because one wrong click could lead the children astray. Luckily, in most schools, they have the child protection software which prevents the children from incidentally clicking on or searching for something that will be "too mature" for children.

    Great Post! I hadn't thought about search engines for kids but now I will have my children use those. Thank you!

  3. "...but I just hope that I can instill in the students and my own children the need to be responsible for their own actions and to avoid perusing things that could be 'bad for their brains.' " Brains? Is't this one of the responsibilities of educators now? Resources like Icurio and Discovery ED (both used in Baldwin County) address your concerns head on!