O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. Psalms 43:3

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. D&C 88:118

The kids

The kids

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Supercharged Science- Schoolhouse Review

Supercharged eScience Review
Last year, when I had Little One, I was blessed with a fabulous opportunity to review an online science program from Supercharged Science. It allowed B to maintain some normalcy in our schedule and teach the children for a change. It also provided fodder for my science classes this past fall in addition to being my children’s favorite science resource. Supercharged Science has made many improvements to their website over the past year, and since I was offered an extension on my membership, I get to review the K-12  e-Science Premium Membership again and tell you more about it.

Supercharged eScience ReviewI have come to realize this year that knowledge isn’t the only key to a great teacher. Passion is a major component. Not only is Aurora Lipper incredibly qualified, but her enthusiasm for everything she teaches is contagious. She started teaching children science in an effort to increase enthusiasm as students entered the university. She has taught many science camps and many children through her science programs.

Science is not meant to be a tedious experience. Science should be fun and encourage discovery. Done correctly, science is a much beloved subject of children of all personality types. Aurora Lipper does it right! She doesn’t give a formulaic experiment, ask the student to copy the directions in a notebook or on a lab write-up sheet and then repeat. Instead, she demonstrates some or all of an experiment just enough to pique a child’s interest as well as give them enough tools to do the experiment correctly. Sometimes she does show the whole thing, but leaves the students with questions to answer for themselves. Either way, I have found that my kids like to watch her videos and most of the time they can’t wait to try it themselves. They even get a little testy when I don’t have all the materials to do an experiment.

Mrs. Lipper recommends doing the experiment and getting a child excited to learn about a topic and then introducing the why. In my experience, this is the best way to teach science to children of all ages. Get them excited and then figure out why. Without a reason to know why, a child really doesn’t care. In order to facilitate the why, e-Science has readings, advanced readings for the topic, as well as comment sections attached to each experiment. These  comment sections are a great place to ask questions about an experiment. The questions people ask are answered right there in the comments. I have found this feature helpful on several occasions when I was trying to figure out an experiment. It also saved me from making some mistakes a few times. Additionally, you can email questions any time. Customer service is fabulous.

In total, there are 20 topics plus several bonus topics including science fair experiments, “Math Magic,” and in the summer time e-Summer camp. Having used e-Science over the summer, I can say that the e-Summer camp is a lot of fun since it includes many of the really exciting experiments that don’t require a lot of prep work. During most of the year, the e-camp section doesn’t have much listed, but when it does, it is a great resource for quick interest sparks. When a new member signs up, initially they are only given access to the first few topics. Every month, more topics are opened to the user. If there is a specific topic you are interested in, that you don’t have access to, you can email in and they will open up access for you. Each topic is packed with experiments for all ages. Many of the “K-8” experiments provide a really good foundation for the advanced lessons. The advanced materials contain more complicated experiments which may include more finesse, more materials, more patience, or sometimes more dangerous materials. Most of the advanced material is in the topics of advanced chemistry, astrophysics, alternative energy, electronics, and some physics.

New this year is a grade level guide. It contains some experiments in each grade level K-8 that correlate with national standards and Mrs. Lipper’s experience. Not all of the experiments for a topic are listed in a given grade. For someone concerned with keeping up with grade level, this might be a great feature. For me personally, I didn’t pay much attention to it. We looked at the list of topics and then picked something that sounded interesting and then picked some videos and experiments to do. We do a lot of hopping around from topic to topic as our interest dictates. Sometimes we spend a long time on a topic  (we have done almost all the experiments in units 1 and 2)  and only a little bit in other topics. I have sampled from almost every unit.

Depending on the unit, most of the materials needed to do the experiments can be found at home. Sometimes, like the experiments on electricity, you will need to purchase some additional materials. A shopping list for each unit is available on the website. This link has all the lists in reverse order so click on the topic you are interested in on the right sidebar. In the cases of less common materials, the list will link to a location the item is available online. This is very helpful for finding the right materials.

Once you narrow down to the topic you are going to study, there is a short intro video as well as the experiment videos, readings, and exercises. The exercises are questions about the unit to answer. Some families might find this helpful when they are doing an entire unit. I personally don’t use this in my home, but when I was teaching middle school students at our co-op, on occasion I used some of the exercises to help them pay attention to key areas. Most of the time, we watched the intro video followed by various experiment videos, but other times, I watched the video and then taught the lesson myself. I love the way Mrs. Lipper teaches though, so I usually let her do the talking.

Over the past year, I have found that e-Science really excels at all the physical sciences. The experiments are thoughtful, engaging, and often unique. I like to use e-Science as a piece of my magic learning box or group learning time. I love browsing the videos to find something interesting to do with my girls. I frequently use the search box on the website and while I don’t always come up with what I think I ought to come up with, I am never disappointed at the lack of possibilities. One example of how I used Supercharged Science recently was the other day when we were learning about soap making. I did a search for soap in the search box and found an experiment about microwaving ivory soap. We learned what would happen if we microwaved ivory soap by watching the video. In our home, we don’t have a microwave so that video helped my girls understand a little better why we don’t have one. It also gave them an opportunity to see what the soap would do and why. Then we made laundry soap crystals, which was one of the other results of my search efforts. April 2014_0638April 2014_0641April 2014_0583

We have also been learning about ocean dwelling animals. We discovered a fascinating mimicking octopus through e-Science. We learned about coral as well. Some of the biology videos we watched are not produced by Supercharged Science. They may also be available off e-Science website, but e-Science brings them together so I don’t have to spend my time searching for the perfect video on that topic. I think that I far prefer the physical science units to the biological science units because I think the physical sciences is where Supercharged Science really excels. That said, the biological sciences are still well put together.

With Supercharged Science, there are two subscription plans. One is for K-8 and the other is for K-12. The K-8 costs $37 and the K-12 costs $57 per month. I know that $57 a month for a science subscription seems like a lot, but when I consider that e-Science is like having a professional science teacher in my living room as often as I want to teach my children high quality science, it is far cheaper than any other lessons I pay for. If you are at all interested in Supercharged Science, you can get a Free Copy of the Science Activity Video Series and Guidebook.or you can try e-Science for $1, either the K-8 lessons or the full program listed under 9-12.  The biggest difference between the plans is the 9-12 includes all the K-8 plus more advanced lessons, experiments, and readings.

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  1. Your Borax crystals turned out so nicely! I have a boy, and we seldom do well with crystal growing. Small house -- difficult to leave something untouched long enough for crystals to grow. But we seem to keep trying...

    1. Try the borax crystals. They grow quickly as long as you super saturate your solution. I think ours were grown within 8 hours or so. My girls were impatient and these were grown in less than a day.