Despite the incessant repetition of the word STEM at every opportunity, New York City schools have yet to provide a truly challenging curriculum to kids who always want to learn more.
Fortunately, online options like MIT's Open Course Sourceware, Khan Academy and more exist. Many of them are even free (which is a relief for parents struggling to provide their perennially curious kids with the resources they need without going bankrupt in the process).
The newest player on the block is World Science U.
Launched earlier this year by Brian Greene, Professor of Mathematics at Columbia University in New York City, World Science U promises to harness the power of digital innovation - including an abundance of animations, interactive demonstrations, problem solving sessions, and guided question explorations - to make abstract ideas spring to life.
They also claim that "Whether you are a high school student, science major in college or a lifelong learner, World Science U is where you can explore the wonders of science guided by leading researchers and educators."
But what about if you're merely a New York City 4th grader fascinated by science, math and the universe? Is World Science U a good fit for that sort of kid?
The NY Gifted Education Examiner turned to precisely that sort of kid to find out.
Here is his report:
World Science U is a website that can teach you a lot of science. Especially special relativity. It also has interesting videos on time dilation. It explains how high speeds and very long distances can change your perception of space-time. Its videos are rarely longer than 20 minutes, so you don't need to sit for hours.
Besides courses, World Science U also has questions with short video answers that you don't need to register for, so if you have a question you can find it and get an answer.
It has demonstrations that help illustrate what Brian Greene (Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University) says in the video, like when he is showing why no object can go faster than the speed of light. They have good animations to show what something would be like in real life.
There are university courses that use a lot of math, and short courses that are simpler, with less math. I took one of the short courses because I can't do complex equations yet. However, the way Brian Greene explains things is very clear, and if you have a question after watching a video there is a place you can ask it.
I only took one short course so far and watched a few short videos, so I can't say what everything on the site is like yet.
I gave it 4 stars because some of the website isn't very well designed. In order to get to the main page that shows the courses and answer videos, there's no link. You have to change the url. It always goes to where you left off, instead of the main page. I went back to the main page because I remembered the original address. It also doesn't save cookies so you have to sign in again every time.