NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Along with the return of warm weather and blooming flowers, another sure sign of spring is increased usage of the U.S. Department of Energy's Jefferson Lab Science Education website.
Thousands of Virginia students swamp the website each spring because it features samples of the Virginia Standards of Learning tests, which students must take each spring.
"The most frequently accessed pages on the website include the Virginia Standards of Learning Science, Math and Technology Practice Tests and our 'Who Wants to Win $1,000,000 Math and Science Quiz,'" says Steve Gagnon, Jefferson Lab Science Education technician and webmaster.
The education website includes questions from the recently released 2008 Virginia SOL tests, as well as test questions going back to 2000. Test categories include third-grade math and science; fifth-grade math, science and technology; sixth- and seventh-grade math; eighth-grade math, science and technology; and high school algebra I & II, geometry, earth science and chemistry.
"The SOL practice tests are a great resource for students, teachers, parents, or anyone interested in the information," Gagnon adds.
The website is set up so a person can request 5, 10, 20, or 40 random multiple-choice questions from a single category. Or if desired, the site allows teachers and students to bring up nonrandom sets of questions. If a teacher wants a class to review a series of specific subcategories, the teacher can have the students go to the website's SOL index page and make an assigned series of selections from the "options" offered. Then all of the students will go through the same fixed set of questions.
"This feature is very useful for classroom settings," Gagnon notes.
The interactive design of the website lets users select and submit their answer. They are immediately told if their response is right or wrong. Whether a correct or incorrect response is given, the answer page repeats the question and provides the correct answer.
"Use of this review tool climbs significantly as preparation for the annual testing period gets underway. It is common for the website to have about 2.5 million pages hit in a 24-hour period this time of year," Gagnon notes. "Use usually peaks around the second week in May with daily page hits running into the four millions."
According to Gagnon, the other hot spot on the JLab Science Education website is the "Who Wants to Win $1,000,000 Math and Science Quiz," which provides a fun way to review math and science information – even though contestants aren't playing for real money. While a significant number of students from across Virginia use these review tools to prepare for SOL tests, teachers and students from a number of other states also use these web-based resources to review for spring-time academic tests.
Visit the Jefferson Lab Education webpage for these and other games and activities (http://education.jlab.org/). To access the SOL practice tests or to play the $1 million math and science quiz, click on the Games & Puzzles icon.