NEW YORK (AP) -- Robert Stewart, the man behind the "Ask Dr. Bob" Web service, is glad to answer any questions students may have about oceans.
But he draws the line when students ask him to complete entire homework assignments. When one e-mailed a list of 10 questions from an assignment on octopuses, he replied simply with a link to a Web site about them.
It's all in a day's work for Stewart, a Texas A&M University oceanography professor who responds to questions from teachers and other adults, too.
Stewart is one of scores of experts from academia, government and elsewhere offering free advice to students needing homework help -- as long as they're motivated by curiosity and aren't merely lazy.
"I find a lot of very curious students out there who really have an interest and are trying to find out something to arouse their curiosity," said Stewart, who gets a $100,000 a year grant from NASA to run the service and his OceanWorld Web site.
Henry Fliegler gets no such funding, yet he's no less dedicated to helping students around the world with math problems. He spends about three hours daily answering 25 or so questions, up from three or four when he started in 1996.
The retired engineer from Orange, California, said he gets enough reward from the "17 jillion responses of thank you notes," including one declaring him "my math God."
"It doesn't get any better than that," Fliegler said.
Among his favorite questions is one from a second-grader who asked whether it's OK to count with her fingers (Yes, as long as the answer isn't more than 10). He also hears from adults, including an Italian math professor who wanted him to critique a paper on a new number theory (he suggested contacting wiser folks at Princeton).
Rosalie Baker, a former Latin teacher who now edits a nine-issue-a-year archaeology magazine for children called dig, said she's happy that students with assignments "are not just looking at a book on archaeology and giving some rote answer." Story Continued Here