Six Science Games Websites for Children: Fun and Educational
Educational Games on the Internet
The Internet is a wonderful resource for teachers. It offers activities that are both entertaining and educational for children. Playing online games can be a great way for students to learn about science and have fun at the same time.
A wide variety of science games are available on the Internet. They cover many different topics and are available for all ages, from kindergarten to high school. Some games are only weakly related to science, however. Others are very educational but can be boring for children. The best games sites get the balance between education and fun just right. Luckily, many websites meet this requirement.
The sites that I describe below are the ones that I've used most often with my students. Some are best for younger children while others work better for older ones. All of them provide a free and entertaining way for students to learn about science. It would be a good idea for teachers or parents to explore the sites before children use them, though. It's important to discover whether particular games are suitable for a curriculum or for specific students.
Sheppard Software Games
The Sheppard Software website has a large collection of games in science, math, language arts, geography, history, and topics related to the USA. The site also contains informative articles, quizzes, puzzles, and brain games. In addition, it includes a paint program for very young children. The program lets children choose a habitat, colour the different parts of the background, and then drag appropriate animals into the picture.
The games are both entertaining and educational. The site contains age-appropriate activities for everyone, from preschool to adults (or so the people who run the site claim). An example of one of the games is shown in the video below.
The games and activities require the free Adobe Flash player in order to run. The player is available for both Windows and macOS. It's not available for some operating systems, however, such as the iOS system that runs Apple's mobile devices. There may be solutions for this problem. For example, although the iPad doesn't run Flash by itself, some third-party web browsers allow people to play Flash games on the device. I use one of these on my iPad. It works, but not perfectly.
Sheppard Software is a useful site for educators and students. There's a link to science games on the home page. The website contains other sections that would be helpful for a science curriculum. These include the Animals, Health, Nutrition, and Chemistry sections. Each of these sections has games that students can play. It's definitely worth exploring everything that the site has to offer.
A Review of Sheppard Software Cell Games
We’re not saying the whole curriculum turns into this big game. We’re saying it’s an adjunct to a serious curriculum.— Bill Gates
The Science Kids Website
Science Kids has lots of games for children. The games teach important concepts in science. The main topics covered by the site are animals, biology, chemistry, physics, space, weather, and technology. The games require the Flash player in order to run.
The Science Kids website is very useful because it contains far more than science games. The site has facts, instructions, and explanations for experiments as well as project suggestions. In addition, it offers puzzles for students to solve, including quizzes, word searches, and word scrambles.
The site also contains videos, free photos for presentations, a science joke page, and a lesson plan section for educators. Like the Sheppard Software site, Science Kids is a big website that is worth exploring. It's a great resource that takes a long time to fully examine.
The 24/7 Science Site
24/7 Science is an interesting website run by the Lawrence Hall of Science, which is in turn run by the University of California, Berkeley. The website contains a collection of online games and activities on a variety of science topics. One section, called the Nanozone, teaches children about the rapidly developing field of nanotechnology. The site also contains an Earth and Space section and an Arcade Game section. The games require the Flash player.
In addition to the games, the website has quizzes and instructions for science experiments that students can perform at home. A nice aspect of the experiment pages is they enable students to enter their results and get feedback of some kind.
The 24/7 Science site has a professional development page, which contains helpful videos. The site contains fewer resources for students than the two websites described above. On the "Collections" page there is a link to another potentially useful site called howtosmile, however, which I describe below.
Note: This article was last updated during the COVID-19 situation. At that time, the Lawrence Hall of Science building was closed and its 24/7 website was unavailable (but not deleted). I expect the site will be visible again once the museum reopens.
How to Smile
The howtosmile website is run by the Lawrence Hall of Science and the University of California. I've recently discovered the site and am still exploring it, but it looks very useful. The site contains activities rather than games. It claims to have links to over 3,500 free science and math activities. The ones that I've seen require a little preparation by teachers or parents. The activities come from "science museums, public television stations, universities, and other educational organizations". The site is aimed at both school and home school situations.
It is important to remember that educational software, like textbooks, is only one tool in the learning process. Neither can be a substitute for well-trained teachers, leadership, and parental involvement.— Keith Krueger
PBS Kids Science Games
The PBS Kids Science Games site has an extensive collection of games for young elementary children. The games have a colourful and attractive design and are fun to play. They teach kids basic science facts in an entertaining way. Some of the PBS Kids games require the Flash plugin in order to run, but many don't.
One very nice feature of the PBS site is that some of the game screens have a link to related information or activities. The linked sections include science facts for teachers and parents and printable puzzles and worksheets for children. There are also "Tell me more" tabs on some of the screens. These give kids additional facts and suggest new activities that they can perform at home. Some of the games are based on the PBS Kids television show called "Sid the Science Kid". The game screens have a video button that lets children see scenes from the show.
Television didn’t transform education. Neither will the internet. But it will be another tool for teachers to use in their effort to reach students in the classroom. It will also be a means by which students learn outside the classroom.— John Palfrey
Edheads is a very interesting site that includes nineteen different activities for students. The site offers activities (or games) in which students perform virtual surgery while learning about surgical techniques and the human body. Virtual operations include brain surgery, knee surgery, hip surgery, and aorta surgery. The site classifies the virtual surgery games as being suitable for grades 7 to 12+.
The Edheads site contains other science themed games in addition to the virtual surgeries. These include a simple machines game and a compound machine game for grades 2 to 6, a weather game for grades 4 to 9, a crash scene investigation activity for grades 9 to 12+, and a nanoparticle activity for Grades 10 to 12+. The site also has an activity in which students help to design a cell phone for seniors. In addition, it contains several stem cell activities. The website provides teacher's guides and a resources section.
My favourite site out of all the ones that I've reviewed is the Edheads site. I like its detailed and very original games. It's a good site for both older students and younger ones, depending on the activity that's chosen. Unfortunately for visitors, fourteen of the games are no longer free. Schools must purchase a membership in order to use them. The membership fee for a relatively small group of students is not exorbitant, however.
The current cost of a membership is $20 a year for up to thirty students and $30 a year for up to 250. The price jumps considerably when more than 250 students need to access the site. At the moment, five games can be played without payment. The games require the Flash player to run, with the exception of two games that were created with HTML 5.
The only problem about the site that concerns me is that the same nineteen games have been available since I discovered the site several years ago. The games are complex and probably take a long time to create, but it would be nice to see that a new one had been created.
Edheads Simple Machines and Design a Cell Phone Overview
There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.— Nancy Kassebaum
Mandy Barrow's Science Games Links
Mandy Barrow is an educator who has created a rich collection of resources for elementary students. The resources can be reached from the websites of both Woodlands Primary School in Kent, England, where Mandy used to work, and St John's CE Primary School in Kent, where she currently works. They can also be reached from Mandy's own website.
The resources include information, activities, and links relating to science, math, literacy, history, geography, and British customs. They also include a science games page, which consists of links to other sites categorized by topic. Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth Science, and Space Science are all represented. For example, the site contains links to game sites that let students assemble a skeleton, build electrical circuits, and play different instruments. Since the games come from other websites, the requirements for running them vary. Most of them seem to require the Flash player.
Some of the resources provided by the links on the site may be interesting for the general public as well as children. In fact, I found the science games when I was searching for information about an aspect of British culture that interested me. At that time, the cultural facts and science games were located on the same site. When I explored the website, I realized how useful it would be to educators.
The "Search our sites" link on the current Science Zone home page enables a visitor to visit the other resources created by Mandy Barrow, including the information about British culture and history. This is now located on the Project Britain website.
A Drawback to the Site
Though I've found some good science resources on the Science Zone website and it can be fun to explore, I've deliberately listed the site last in this article because of a problem. There is a drawback to creating a big list of resources found on other sites, especially if the list isn't checked or updated regularly. Some of the links on the Science Zone site no longer work. Others go to the correct home page but then require a search to find the new location of the resource.
Despite the problems, I think the site is worth exploring (before it's introduced to children) in order to find useful websites that are still in operation or to discover the new addresses for interesting resources. It's not a good site for children to explore on their own due to the frustration that might arise when they discover that some of the links are broken.
What is your favourite science games website?
Learning Science via the Internet
The Internet is a great source of science information for all ages. Facts, virtual experiments, videos, podcasts, practice exams, online courses, the latest science news, and games are all available for someone who has access to the Internet.
Playing games can be a very effective way to help students learn about science. I've reviewed my favourite games websites, but many others exist. Teachers in schools and at home can choose from a wide variety of online activities. It's highly likely that at least some of these activities will be both fun and educational for their students.
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Linda Crampton