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Search Tools for Kids, Teens, and Teachers

What's the difference between different search engines and directories?  

What search tools are best for particular grade levels and topics?
How do I plan for a search?

What search strategies can I use to get better results?

searchIdentifying General Search Tools

The Internet is like a huge flea market with wonderful gems of information scattered among piles of junk. Search tools are intended to help you find the information you need. Each search tool takes a slightly different approach. Search engines, directories, indexes, and portals can all be helpful. While each of these has a specific definition, many search engines have more than one option. For example, Google is a search engine, but it also has a directory available. While most search tools ask users to enter key words, some like Ask are designed for questions.
How do the search tools find all the websites? Many of the search engines use robots, wanderers, worms, spiders, harvesters, and other automated systems to find websites. In addition, people sometimes add their own website to the list.
Search engines - resources are automatically databased by a computer. The results vary depending on the rules the sites uses to select materials. For example, Bing and Yahoo.
Indexes and Directories - information is organized into categories or lists that are sometimes created by people and sometimes computers. Many search engines also have directories. For example, Google Directory or Yahoo! Directory.
Subject guides - resources are selected and organized by people. They are good for large and focused topics, but provide fewer resources than search engines. For example, About.com.
Meta engines - these sites explore a number of search tools to come up with diverse results. For example, Dogpile, Webcrawler and Yippy are examples.
Portals- create a virtual desktop that provides, in one central place, web-based information and resources needed by a user. The difference between a portal and a regular website is that information is customized by the user. For example, iGoogle.

Tools for Teachers and Teens

Locating Specialized Search Tools

In addition to the popular teen and adult search tools, there are many specialized search tools. For example, you can find search tools for children, as well as particular information formats (i.e., graphics, videos) and content areas. FreePhoto, Picasso, and Flickr are popular image sites. Use Google Images to search the web for images. Use FindSounds for audio files. The advantage of a specialized tool is their narrow focus. Rather than getting "everything", they have selected those resources that fit a particular need. For example, KidsClick provides information about the reading level and number of illustrations contained on a website. Use CNET Search to search for software and hardware information.
Go to Starting Points for Kids for other pages with student search engines links.

Tools for Kids and Teens

Evaluating Search Tools

 If you need more search engine ideas, there are many websites that provide lists of search engines and resources.


Conduct a Search
The best way to determine which is the best search engine for you is to try each of them using the same search topic. Try three searches using each search tool: try your name (Annette Lamb), a broad topic (frogs), and a narrow topic (spotted tree frog). Compare your results with different tools.

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