Jack Kenny presents a regular, serendipitous selection of websites for learning
VINCENT VAN GOGH
This site really is Van Gogh Complete. It has all his paintings, drawings and water colours. There are also the sketches, graphics and all his letters.
There is even a section on fakes. Every picture is documented, telling you where it is located and where it was painted. It's difficult to imagine the site being improved because it is the one-stop site for this artist. Clearly designed, it is a wonderful place for research into post-impressionism and for appreciating the range of the artist who was a great writer as well as painter.
For years statistics have been published to give a snapshot of the UK at a moment in time. If you like to be sure of your facts or if you want children to be sure of their facts, here they all are. This site is invaluable for geographers and those teachers who want to demonstrate how information can influence planning. It's also useful for getting realistic data that can be used in spreadsheets. Did you know that mobile phone ownership has nearly tripled between 1997 and 2001, that you are three times more likely to be unemployed if you are Pakistani than if you are white?
Scientific American is a prestigious journal, well worth visiting for the archives. It supplies a great deal of material to those who want to look at the ethical issues that underlie a great deal of modern scientific developments. There are exhibits that cover the latest developments in cable technology to an environmental one on the disappearing forests of Madagascar. There are good search tools that make interrogating the archive easy.
Not sure if this is approved by Carol Vorderman. This is industrial strength, heavy duty mathematics. The site claims to be the web's most complete mathematical resource, assembled over more than a decade. “It is a comprehensive mathematics encyclopedia intended for students, educators, math enthusiasts, and researchers.” The site is continuously updated to include new material and incorporate new discoveries.
This is exactly what it says. It is a drum database with over 400 lessons. It will take you from cascaras to castanets and paradiddles to pandeiros. It deals with everything from buying drums to setting them up and all styles from symphonic to motown and rock. There is even instruction on how to build a djembe drum. The lessons on drum techniques are explained clearly.
This is a site set out like a conventional zoo or theme park to teach about microbes. You can travel around Dirtland, the Animal Pavilion, the Snack Bar, Space Adventure and Water World. In the Snack Bar there is work on how microbes work to create food: the yeasts that create beer, bread and wine. Even chocolate is helped on its way. It is a very well designed and attractive site that is not too demanding.
EYEWITNESSES TO HISTORY
On August 24, 79 AD, Vesuvius erupted destroying Pompeii and Herculaneum. The writer Pliny was nearby at the time and wrote a graphic account of the event. This site looks at history through the eyewitnesses of such events. Closer to our own time there was a man-made catastrophe. Dr. Zygmunt Klukowski who was the chief physician of a small hospital in the Polish village of Szczebrzeszyn kept a diary and each day recorded the events of the Nazi occupation. Chilling. The whole site brings history to life.