What did students ever do without the Web? Maybe learn less about topics their parents would prefer remain under wraps. ¶ But undeniably, the Internet is a tremendous research and study tool. ¶ In that spirit, here's our annual guide to free sites in a variety of topics that crop up from grade school through college. ¶ The list begins with five super-sites that go to the head of the class.
www.crf-usa.org/links/research1.html: The Los Angeles-based, nonprofit Constitutional Rights Foundation, which sponsors youth programs to promote civic responsibility, also offers on its site hundreds of links to a variety of school subjects.
www.ipl.org: Started as a class project at the University of Michigan, the Internet Public Library provides a clickable index of research sites in numerous fields. It's now maintained by a consortium of colleges and universities.
vos.ucsb.edu: The Voice of the Shuttle (the name refers to weaving on a loom) from UC Santa Barbara has been compiling links to academic topics for more than a decade.
www.doaj.org: More than 800 professional journals concerning science, education, the arts and other topics can be searched on this Directory of Open Access Journals site.
www.bartleby.com/107: The 1918 version of Henry Gray's "Anatomy of the Human Body" (not to be confused with the TV show "Grey's Anatomy") provides descriptions and vibrant illustrations.
www.innerbody.com: An interactive guide to not only the skeletal but also the digestive, muscular, cardiovascular and other systems.
archnet.asu.edu: Links to museums, digs and academic papers, maintained by Arizona State University. It's organized by topic and geography.
www.cyberpursuits.com/archeo: In addition to links, this site provides a guide to recent magazines and journal articles.
witcombe.sbc.edu/ARTHLinks.html: Comprehensive set of links to sites dealing with art periods, artists and museums.
www.metmuseum.org/toah: The Metropolitan Museum of Art's timeline of art history, from cave drawings to the present.
www.biology-online.org: This site, maintained by current and former students worldwide, contains not only links but also tutorials and a forum where questions can be posted.
www.biology.arizona.edu: This University of Arizona site features links organized by topic.
www.chemicalelements.com: There are lots of websites dealing with the periodic table of elements, but this one is particularly well designed and easy to use. It was created in 1996 as an eighth-grader's science fair project.
www.chemdex.org: The University of Sheffield in England maintains this site, which has more than 7,000 links.
antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/index .shtml: Need practice? This Frostburg State University site features quizzes, tutorials and animated demonstrations.
www.sciencemadesimple.com/conversions.html: Online metric conversions, and vice versa, of distance, area, weight, speed, temperature and other measurements.
www.minneapolisfed.org/research/data/us/calc: Inflation calculator from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis shows average changes in prices between any two years, from 1913 to the present.
factfinder.census.gov: This site was put together by officials at the Census Bureau, so it's not exactly user-friendly. But with a bit of patience, you can unearth detailed U.S. population information.
babelfish.altavista.com/tr: Translates words and whole sites from English into 12 languages and vice versa. But often inexactly.
www.verbix.com/webverbix/index.asp: Conjugates verbs in 81 languages.
www.ethnologue.com: Information on the world's 6,912 known living languages.
www.gutenberg.net: Even before the Web as we know it was born, this wonderful literary service began digitizing public-domain works. There are now more than 20,000 downloadable books on the site.
www.cliffsnotes.com: The famed Cliffs Notes study guides to literary classics can be read on the website for free.
www.sparknotes.com: Similar to Cliffs Notes, but in some cases more comprehensive. There are also message forums here, so you can discuss the books with others online.
www.algebrahelp.com: Algebra practice problems and other helpers, such as lists of prime numbers.
www.mathplayground.com/flashcards.html: Remember flashcards? Here's an online version of them plus other math games, mostly on the grammar-school level.
www.webmath.com: A review of problems and formulas, from grade-school arithmetic level to high-school calculus.
www.music.indiana.edu/music_resources: From Indiana University comes this list of music links, organized by genre, composer and performer. It includes classical and popular music.
www.carolinaclassical.com/links.html: Extensive links, organized by musical eras from the Middle Ages to the present.
www.essentialsofmusic.com: Brief biographies of composers and descriptions of eras.
plato.stanford.edu/contents.html: The online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, founded in 1995, is a work in progress that at this point provides 1,000 essays by professionals in the field.
www.utm.edu/research/iep: The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy is aimed at a more general readership than the Stanford site.
www.epistemelinks.com/index.aspx: This site offers thousands of links to information on more than 450 philosophers.
thomas.loc.gov: The Library of Congress site includes the daily Congressional Record and updates on pending legislation.
www.psr.keele.ac.uk/official.htm: Links to the websites of governments worldwide, including some governments in exile.
allpsych.com: A hodgepodge of links and information, including a glossary of basic terms, self-evaluation tests and career guides.
www.psychology.org: Nearly 2,000 links to publications and resources.
www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook: Not everything the CIA does is secret. Its handy World Factbook provides data on numerous counties. A listing includes a nation's population, geography, government type, industries, agriculture, languages and broadcast stations. The site is updated about every two weeks.