Wonderopolis is a magically designed space in the wider internet dedicated to exploring questions, answers, and how we can learn. As such, this is a useful tool for education as well as a nice place to spark ideas for teaching.
This web-based platform is growing daily, with questions added by the many users that visit this site. With 45 million visitors since the launch, there are now more than 2,000 wonders on the page and growing.
A wonder is, essentially, a question posed by a user that has been explored by the editorial team to provide an answer. It's fun and uses clearly stated sources as well as teaching-focused details that make it a useful tool.
So is Wonderopolis for you and your classroom?
What is Wonderopolis?
Wonderopolis is a website that allows users to submit questions that may be answered in detail -- as an article -- by the editorial team.
Wonderopolis posts a 'wonder' each day, meaning one of the questions is answered in article format with words, images, and videos as part of the explanation. Usefully, the sources are also provided, in Wikipedia-style, to allow readers to explore the topic more, or check accuracy of the answer.
The site is sponsored by the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) so it has a vested interest in providing genuinely valuable learning resources to kids. A number of other philanthropic partners are involved, which allow this to be a free offering.
How does Wonderopolis work?
Wonderopolis is free to use so right from the outset you land on a homepage populated with fun and thought-provoking questions. For example, recently the question was "What is Pi?" and below are links to "Find out more" or "Test your knowledge?" which takes you to a multiple choice question and answer pop-up.
Questions vary massively, from science-based, such as "Why is a flamingo pink?", to music and history, such as "Who is the queen of soul?" There is also a chart system that shows highly rated questions, useful for finding inspiration that's thought-provoking.
Another way to navigate is to use the map to select where you are and join in with discussions going on in your area. Or go to the collection section to find areas being covered, from Black history to Earth Day.
If you go to the "What are you wondering?" section you can type directly into a search-style bar to add your question to the collection already on the site. Or go right below to select the highest-rated, most recent, or non-voted listed underneath to see what else has been asked.
What are the best Wonderopolis features?
Wonderopolis does have a lot going on so can take a little getting used to before you're able to explore the sections you like most with ease. But, usefully, it does offer daily additions that can be explored almost right after landing on the homepage -- ideal for teaching inspiration.
Wonderopolis also lists popular questions that can be great as a way to come up with musings, or as a jump off point to think about topics you may want to cover in class.
The ability to upvote questions posted by other users is nice as this allows the best ones rise to the top so you can easily find the pick of the bunch. There is also a short video series, Wonders with Charlie, in which a man explores all sorts of creations, from the latex glove bagpipe to answering questions such as "What is K-Pop?"
Right at the top of any wonder article you have the helpful options to listen with audio, to comment or read the comments of others, or to print out the article to distribute in class.
Then when you get to the bottom you'll see all the standards that are covered by this piece, allowing you to match this against goals for class or individual students as needed.
How much does Wonderopolis cost?
Wonderopolis is free to use. Thanks to philanthropic funding, plus that partnership with the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) you can use as much of the site's many resources as you need without having to pay a penny or sit through a single ad. You don't even have to sign up, allowing you to remain anonymous too.
Wonderopolis best tips and tricks
Use the "Try It Out" section at the end of articles to find follow-up exercises that students can do at home, or in a flipped class, back in the room with you.
Have students come up with a question each to add to the site and after a week see which is upvoted the most before covering it in class.
Teach students to check sources so they know what they are reading is accurate and learn how to question what they read and find proper sources for knowledge.