SERC > About this Site > Search Help

General Search Guide

Having problems with our search tools? This page provides several sorts of information that we hope will help:

How to use our Search Tool

You can search by typing search terms into the text box at the top of the page, as well as by clicking the links next to the terms in the right-hand column. You can combine these approaches freely.

search screen shot


Once you've clicked on a term to browse and/or entered a search term your criteria will appear at the top of the page (and the search results will reflect your selections). You can then refine your search by browsing further.

term limited search


The boxes along the right side of the page list various categories amongst which you can browse. Behind each term is a number indicating how many resources fall into that category. As you search (or browse) these lists will adjust themselves so they always show the distribution of resources from only your current search. This provides a quick way to get a sense of the scope of results from each search.

refine the results screen shot


In the K-12 activity browses, it is a good idea to narrow your search by "Subject" or "Resource Type" before narrowing your search by "Grade Level". A lesson that is taught in one state in 5th grade might be part of your state's 6th grade standards. By narrowing to grade level too early, you might be missing activities that are appropriate for your students.

refine the results K8 screen shot



Site Guides: Compiling Resources for Selected Popular Topics

Site Guides provide fast access to information on teaching, career and departments, information for specific audiences, and several popular topics like earthquakes and climate change. These guides offer information on where to find resources within SERC pages.

More Details: Phrase Searches and Hierarchical Vocabularies

By default terms in a text search are (roughly) AND'd together–adding more terms narrows your search. You can use double quotes to set off a phrase you want to search for exactly. Searches automatically look for words with matching stems (a search for 'boxing' would match 'boxes', 'box', and 'boxer'), though exact matches will show up higher in the search results. Text searches are always case insensitive.

Some of the browsable categories (officially known as controlled vocabularies) are hierarchical, so that after selecting a particular term (e.g. 'fish') additional, more refined options (e.g. 'herring' and 'carp') may be available to further refine your search.

Still Can't Find What you Want?

If the search tools don't seem to be leading you in the right direction please let us know. You can either provide feedback about how the search tool worked (or didn't work) here, or feel free to get in touch with us directly. We'll do our best to point you in the right direction.


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