The Kids' Guide to Science Projects
is a website I found off of the list located at www.ala.org/greatsites under the topic “Sciences: Science Experiments.” The website I chose is located at http://edweb.tusd.k12.az.us/jtindell . The reason I was looking? A college course called “Information Sources and Research Methods” assignment.
To figure out the authoritativeness of this site I looked into the author. The author of this site is Joan Tindell, a middle school teacher at Naylor Middle School of Tuscon, AZ. Many ways of contact are listed for the author, including email address, postal address, and telephone number. The author of this site seems to be moderately authoritative, since she is a middle-school teacher. Given the intended audience of this site (middle-school students), this seems appropriate.
The next thing to look at is the comprehensiveness. “The Kids' Guide to Science Projects” covers the topic of grade school science projects pretty completely. There is information regarding all aspects of the procedure of carrying out a science project. This information is all original and complete. The content is organized in a hierarchal fashion, with topics linked to lists of subtopics, which are in turn linked to substantial original content.
There are many links to other resources and information. These links are, for the most part, annotated well. The “Doing Research” page has a list of resources (search engines) that is not annotated, however. The links are not claimed to be complete, and there is no information as to how or why the particular links were chosen. These links are the only pointers to other content on the site, however; there are few pointers to offline content. This site is pretty comprehensive regarding its own content, but only provides a moderate collection of pointers to other resources due to the seemingly incomplete nature of the links, and the almost complete absence of references to offline content.
This site originates from the “k12.az.us” domain, the standard domain for K-12 schools in Arizona. This is a significant sign of the reliability of this information. This website is intended for use by middle-school students and was written by their teacher. The nature of the content makes it a bit more reliable than just any online resource, since it was written to carry out a specific purpose by someone whose job is to carry out that purpose. Therefore, it is unlikely that the author has some hidden agenda or bias.
The apparent neutrality of the content further strengthens the reliability of the page. There is no advertising on the page that would skew the content. The content is well written, with excellent grammar and spelling. Most of the graphics on the site are cutesy pictures of puppies, mostly contained within navigational elements. There are, however, a few graphics that give examples of the content. For example, on “The Perfect Project” page, there are examples of graphs and charts ideally used in “the perfect project”. This site uses well-known ideas, such as the scientific method, which can be independently verified; therefore, the accuracy can be trusted to a large extent.
According to the index page, this site was last updated on May 20, 2002 when it was “New and improved!” It is likely that this page has been around since 1998, at which time it seems to have been awarded the 1998 “Mousey Award” by The Arizona Daily Star. Since the content of this site, which is about scientific methodology, is not very time-sensitive, it's likely that this content would remain valid for many years to come.