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Why online projects?

What are the benefits to students?

The Opportunity to Do Real Science:

Online projects enlarge students' opportunities to engage in the scientific process by offering entree's into research at many levels: background research, experimental design, data collection, analysis, and presentation. Sample sizes can be larger and more significant that those obtainable within class or school.

Students encounter realistic challenges in designing, setting up, and carrying out experiments. It all doesn't happen in one class period. There is also the risk of ambiguous results or even failure.

Because results will be communicated to other schools, students have an added incentive to be careful and rigorous. Experiments can be replicated by other teams of student scientists.

Students must confront sources of error and degrees of uncertainty in deciding what they have found out.

Students can ask questions about phenomena which vary geographically, accessing and analyzing data even though they lack the resources and/or the proper location for collection. As in GLOBE, RayDay and Monarch Watch, they can gather data simultaneously over vast areas. Through use of the Internet and with the guidance of scientists, students can do real research, extendiing our knowledge of the universe (link to Case thread - Student Scientist Partnerships).

Improved Communication Skills:

Participating in an online project requires clear communication in order to achieve reproducibility of methods and results among participating groups. Students experience the frustration caused by ambiguous wording and see the value of precise, detailed methods and discussion. If a presentation of results to the community is required, students get added experience in scientific writing.


It is intrinsically interesting and fun to communicate with students from distant schools and engage in common activities. Students share thoughts and even pictures of themselves and their schools. Online projects give students an opportunity totake charge, be active and creative in a relatively safe arena.Students of all ability levels can contribute and get recognition.The enthusiasm can help carry them through more tedious and difficult classwork.

Using Technology:

By definition, online projects use computers and the Internet in some way. They give students a real reason to become familiar with the internet connection at their homes, schools or libraries and to range out from there to explore the wealth of information available to them. Technology becomes a tool not an end in itself, as it should be.

What challenges do online projects pose for teachers?

Online Projects Index

Technology in Education Index

Let's Collaborate Index

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