Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Fall 2016 Website
Ages: 5 - 12 yrs.
Publisher: Koantum

Koantum is colorful, friendly, interactive, science website for elementary students that proves useful tool for parents or teachers who want to complement and bolster the science curriculum kids are learning in their classrooms.

The grade-based lessons, which Koantum (pronounced "Quantum") says are compatible with many national and state standards, are largely intuitive, visually appealing and easy to follow. From the sign-in interface to each level and various components of the lessons, Koantum offers a captivating environment designed to keep students interested and focused without resorting to trendy or pseudo-cool content.

For instance, the first-grade lessons cover 15 subjects, such as Air, Heat, Electricity, Food Digestion, Sound, Sun and Four Seasons-all presented in a similar simple graphic approach with minimalist animated elements with high-quality audio providing information. So, when you click on the Air lesson, for example, you see a graphics scene of a man in a lawn chair, a little girl flying a kite, smiling flowers, a dog, a windmill, and a sailboat. A welcoming girlish voice says "Hello! Today we are going to learn about air. Air is important in many ways. Let's find out how air can move or help the objects and people on this page."

Then, when you click on the girl with a kite, for instance, you get a brief and simple explanation of how air makes a kite fly. Click on the flowers and you get a very basic lesson in why plants need air to grow and pollinate. Click the man and hear about breathing.

Besides the opening interactive scene, each section includes four sub-sections: Experiments (the Air section's experiments center on blowing up a balloon, blowing air through a straw in water, etc.), a Review of "what we learned today," a related "hands-on" lesson (pollution versus clean air in the Air section), and a 10-question multiple-choice quiz.

In the kindergarten lessons, kids can dive into nine different fundamental science topics-among them, the Five Senses, Body Parts, Plants, Weather and Animals. Like the first-grade lessons, each of these has five components, including experiments, reviews, activities, and a multiple-choice quiz.

Parents and teachers can monitor a student's progress on the Koantum dashboard. And the site provides full lesson plans and printable activities books for teachers.

What's impressive about Koantum is that the lessons are straight-forward and inviting, and age-appropriate and simple enough that students won't get frustrated or stuck. At $99 per year for a single homebased student, however, Koantum has to be more than just another educational videogame that a student plays with from time to time. It has to be the interactive site supplementing a child's science classwork, as Koantum is designed to be.

Don Oldenburg   ©2016 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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