What are some neat websites I can share with high school students?
December 31, 2020 6:08 PM Subscribe
What are your favorite chill, silly, mildly intriguing or entertaining internet finds that I can use to build relationships with my high school students? We're learning virtually, and I had great success during fall semester with spending the first 10-15 minutes of class showing them something neat to play/discuss. But now we're headed into spring semester and I'm tapped out! Seeking anything you've seen on the internet lately that captured your interest for a few minutes. I've got examples inside...

It is so hard to build a community virtually and to convince teenagers that our class will be engaging when their phone is right there the whole time they're at home. I've had some good success with showing them weird things I've found on the internet, almost all things I originally found on mefi... but being a one-person front page every day is hard, y'all. Can you add to my arsenal of weird stuff that's entertained you or started a conversation with others?

Here's some of what's worked so far:
  • Window Swap. We clicked the link a few times and listed the neatest places we found.
  • Random Street View. I stole this one from twitter, with the prompt "you get $5 million if you live in this location for 10 years. Would you do it?" We had fun in the chat justifying our choices.
  • QWOP. Old enough the students didn't know it, easy to pick up but difficult to master. Mildly competitive. Good for about 5-15 mins before most of them got frustrated, which was perfect because then they weren't playing during class. (This was honestly the biggest hit all year.)
  • Jelle's Marble Runs. We picked our teams at the beginning of each race and rooted them on. The mild competition was engaging, but it was really the high production quality and commitment that sold it. (This one was also a big hit.)
  • Scream into the Void and a 60-second meditation to help with that finals stress.
  • Would you eat these expired twinkies, based off a NPR article. (The photo was clutch!)
  • We voted in Fat Bear WeekandPenguin of the Year, both of which did a good job at engagement with all that flavor text. We enjoyed the mild debate about which penguin was best. (Also, explore.org is generally a big hit.)
  • We used jamboard to play Connect Four with a template I found online.
  • I've mined all of Ask Reddit's greatest hits for conversation starters.
  • I bought a digital card deck for questions about "which one of these 4 things has gotta go," but struggled with it ... it's hard to find universal pop culture references in this day and age.

  • Bonus points for anything that prompts collaboration, mild competition, or discussion amongst people. Wholesome is a must; I'm not the biggest fan of sites like Awkward Family Photos because I don't want to punch down. G- or PG-rated also a must, but I will filter for that before I give anything to the students.

    Most of my students are on school-issued Chromebooks, and I'll make sure to test anything beforehand for tech/district filter requirements.

    So, mefi... what are the neatest things you've found on the internet that captured your attention for 5-20 minutes?
    posted by lilac girltoComputers & Internet (24 answers total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
    The Funklet can teach them about music and music history as well as how computers are used to sequence beats for a lot of the pop music that they love.

    Plus it's really funky and fun, it's a web app that sounds great and lets them play and experiment.
    posted by SaltySalticidat6:22 PM on December 31

    From my MF submissions, what comes to mind as inspiring collaboration is:
    posted by bqat6:28 PM on December 31

    Neal Agarwal's Deep Sea.

    MeFi's Own™ Sokka shot first's Unicode Text Transformer is nifty too, though accompanied by the warning to not use the resulting fancyfied text on public web sites due to accessibility concerns for vision-impaired readers. Maybe an accessibility discussion would itself be interesting?
    posted by XMLiciousat6:35 PM on December 31 [4 favorites]

    The amazing escapista.app for random, long segments of slow TV, especially (for HS students) the Historical channel (although they'll probably prefer Beach). Note that, despite the .app extension, its just a web-page (although the distinction between the two seems to be muddling).
    posted by Rashat6:41 PM on December 31 [1 favorite]

    In March, participate in March Mammal Madness. There are daily battles between different animals based on Science and it is a good time - an extended Fat Bear Week, if that went over well.
    posted by ChuraChuraat6:42 PM on December 31 [1 favorite]

    posted by itesserat7:01 PM on December 31 [1 favorite]


    It's a "guess the drawing" AI trainer; it gives you an instruction for what to draw and the AI guesses. It generally gets every one; the most fun is actually to try to stump it without just drawing the wrong thing.
    posted by gideonfrogat7:47 PM on December 31 [1 favorite]

    Which Face Is Real, from the This Person Does Not Exist AI-generated faces project.
    posted by oxisosat7:55 PM on December 31 [2 favorites]

    Epic Rap Battles of History maybe? Some use extremely well-known public figures, but some (e.g. Western Philosophers vs Eastern Philosophers) will probably bring up the question of who are these people and why is this funny.
    posted by inexorably_forwardat8:00 PM on December 31 [1 favorite]

    These are probably more didactic than you're looking for but they're what came to mind:On a lighter note, I guess there's also ...
    春工图 科幻末世类网文作品 E道阅读网,久热爱精品视频在线 最新章节(作者 猪象) E道阅读网posted by Wobbuffetat8:03 PM on December 31 [5 favorites]

    Oops, that Hebocon video has an entrant that's not appropriate--this related UK event seems OK for kids
    posted by Wobbuffetat8:10 PM on December 31


    You create a nationstate to your liking and the game regularly gives you issues with a few resolutions to choose from. As you resolve more issues, the character of your nationstate changes. Capitalist Democracy. Totalitarian Communism. Psychotic Dictatorship. Everything in between.
    posted by Stukaat8:26 PM on December 31 [1 favorite]

    Blob Opera
    posted by fleecy socksat8:52 PM on December 31 [2 favorites]

    Try this lemonade stand game? /games/lemonadestand.html
    posted by freethefeetat10:02 PM on December 31

    This is a good thing you are doing. I just saw linked in MetaTalk and thought it might work. The MetaFilter discussion suggests there may be some problems with the data or the implementation, which itself could make for conversation.
    posted by paduasoyat1:48 AM on January 1

    I like Just Type Stuff for a five minute exercise, it gets people exploring words and (perhaps more importantly) different categories. If you type trumpets you see a trumpet, if you type rain it rains. There are nice philosophical questions that can come out of it (some words seem to be instructions while others are objects), but overall the neatest effect comes from having a blank screen, a cursor, and the only prompt is to ‘type Stuff’. Minimal and explorative.
    posted by Joeruckusat2:19 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]

    春工图 科幻末世类网文作品 E道阅读网,久热爱精品视频在线 最新章节(作者 猪象) E道阅读网
    My kids loved Blob Opera linked above, just for messing around with. In general, the Google Arts and Culture exploration stuff may be fun for them.

    You might also try Chrome Music Lab (my kids like Song Maker, but there are other options) or messing around in Mario Paint Musicor (works better in non-phone browsers where it doesn’t try to get them to install an app).

    We also have played some
    Scribbl.io. They liked Guess My Word, too, although it was hard for my special education and ELL kids.

    I do a kinda dumb question of the day every day to do attendance which my kids like a lot and I don’t really care how much time it takes (if you were in the circus, what kind of performer would you be, what is the worst thanksgiving food, what is the best place in our city to be outside, whatever I think is low-stakes and would get some engagement.

    We also voted in Fat Bear Week every day even though it’s not remotely related to my subject, and did a ton of other stuff like what you are doing. And guess what? They turned in more work for me than for many other teachers. Relationships matter more than anything right now and you are doing important and hard work.
    posted by charmedimsureat2:35 AM on January 1 [2 favorites]

    Check the date of each upcoming lesson in Wikipedia to find the list of what “official” day it is (official ice cream day etc), or little known notable events that happened that day in history to also give you ideas of themed days to search for.
    posted by saucysaultat8:58 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]

    Sandspiel is a fun falling-sand style game that tends to be very creative and engaging, I spent a lot of time playing with one of its predecessors when I was around high school age.
    posted by wesleyacat10:16 AM on January 1

    Wait until there is some interesting weather bearing down on your area and then pull out the wind visualizer at nullschool.net.

    Not only is it beautiful to look at and almost hypnotic to watch, but viewing how your area's own weather is part of a system that covers the whole planet gives a perspective that is otherwise often misssing.

    It's much more interesting, though, when there is some severe weather in your area, so choose your timing.
    posted by Nerd of the Northat5:00 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]

    Try the New York Times feature, what’s going on in this picture. I use it all the time. Once a week they post a new picture and you guess...well...what’s going on. The next day they post the answer with an article. My students love it. You can make it a group effort to try to find the answer, or you can make it more creative and have them come up with wild theories and explanations. They have 8 years worth of photos to mine.
    posted by triggerat8:54 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]

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