Homework Help, Resources for Kids, and Satisfying Your Yearning for Trivia

Last month, Tech Tips took a look at the business and investing databases offered by Mercer County Library. This month we continue the series by looking at databases that are great for homework help and a whole lot more – so do not stop reading, you might just find out how to locate some obscure fact to win a trivia bet with your buddies or even just explore a topic you have always been curious about but didn’t know where to look for more information. Each of the databases will allow you to explore a broader subject or narrow it down to a more specific sub-topic, making them ideal starting points even for adults or college students who want to get a grip on the basics.

The resources below are all listed on our website’s databases page, or you can click on the link below to go directly to the website. While this list is of databases designed primarily for early learners through high school, students should also take a look at our other subject databases as well.

ABC Mouse Early Learning Academy – this site can only be used in one of our branches, but is worth stopping by to try out since it offers a large collection of learning games for early education. The site covers math, language, art, science, and a host of other school topics in a series of fun games and activities.

Explora Primary Schools, Explora Secondary Schools, Explora Public Library – This set of databases from Ebsco present information on typical school subjects and general knowledge categories in a visual menu-driven manner. Users can start at a broad subject, such as health or mathematics and use the menus to drill down to specific content, such as information on autoimmune disorders or addition. The public library edition also includes sections on current events and careers. For each subject you will find a collection of articles, primary source documents, videos, books, and government reports.

Lumos Learning PARCC Test Preparation – Less of a database and more of a service, this resource can help students prepare for the NJSLA test, which is a trimmed down version of the PARCC. There are guided tutorials as well as practice tests that let you know where you need to focus your study efforts and let you track the progress you are making as you prepare for the test.

MAS Ultra – School Edition – Geared toward high school students, this database can be used to search for articles from popular magazines, media sources, and academic resources. But you also get a large collection of photographs, graphs, maps, charts, illustrations, and diagrams, making it a valuable resource for creating visual presentations or adding non-text content to reports.

Middle Search Plus – the MAS Ultra version for middle school students, it contains the same type of content and uses an identical search interface.

Primary Search – the elementary school version of MAS Ultra and Middle Search Plus, it also contains the same type of content and uses an identical search interface.

NoveList K-8 Plus – If you need to find something to read for your next book report or summer reading list or just for fun, this is a good place to start. The database has a set of recommended reading lists by topic on the left so you can look for historical fiction, animal stories, or novels about sports without even having to do a search. Lists are arranged by age level. If you do decide to search, try looking up a book or author you already read and really liked, then you can click the read-alikes options to get suggestions of similar titles you might enjoy. Another fun twist is the appeal mixer, which lets you pick a few themes and mix them up to see what you get. A teen may want to look for angst-filled and romantic. Younger kids might want to look for character-driven and funny. The choice is yours and the results may surprise you, but they will always lead you to a new favorite to explore.

School Center – Part of Learning Express Library, the school center has three sets of tutorials based on grade level. The elementary school, middle school, and high school sections each present practice lessons and tests to help students improve skills such as reading, math, social studies, logic, technology, and science. The middle school section also has an area on high school entrance and placement exams.

TOPICsearch – Current events are the focus of this database and you can either do a keyword search or pick a current event from the list. In addition to articles, there are reviews, speeches, interviews, and reports. The reading range for the contents in the database range from 5th grade to high school senior.

World Almanac for Kids – Sure it is geared toward kids, but if you need an accurate source for fast facts or just want to get the basics down on a topic, this is the place to go. Adult core skills are even covered, such as a section on banking that explains how to use checking and savings accounts. Most sections include a glossary to explain key terms as well as a set of fun facts and videos.

World Geography & Culture Online – This is not really a kid’s database, but is very helpful for homework assignments that focus on specific countries. Of course there are maps, but there are also facts, statistical rankings, news articles, and a lot of other interesting information about each country. There is even a section on each state in the U.S.

Check back next month as we take a look at our health databases.

- Laura N., Information Technology