4/8/14

Fabulous Online Science: Supercharged Science {Crew Review}

Science has always been a favorite subject of mine. My children are crazy about science. The best part of science is the activities: those moments when you see science in action. As a homeschooling parent I am not always up for the work of doing those activities. Through the Schoolhouse Review crew I stumbled on a such a gem of an online homeschool science curriculum that I am writing another review! Grab a cup of your favorite hot beverage or tall glass of your favorite iced beverage and let’s chat!

 e-Science Program homeschool science review at Circling Through This Life

I received 6 months of access to the K-12 Level e-Science Program from Aurora Lipper at Supercharged Science. This online homeschool science curriculum covers everything from learning about the scientific method to physics, chemistry, biology, and even geology! In addition to the 20 science units there are units for some Math lessons and Science Fair projects.  There is even a section to help you get started with the program, an overview of the e-science program, and teaching resources section with tips.

Aurora is a rocket scientist (for real!) with a passion for science and a desire to pass that passion on to students.  She has taught science at every grade level from K through college! Her experience as a teacher taught her how to get kids excited about science.

What’s Included?

When you first enroll in the e-Science program you have access to the first couple of units. Each month you’ll get access to an additional 1-2 units.  You’ll be able to see all of the Units and the topics covered so if you see a unit that interests you but you don’t have access to yet, you can just contact Supercharged Science and they will arrange access for you.  Access is limited to prevent parents and students from being overwhelmed.  There is a Getting Started page that is very helpful and even a page to help to students set up and keep a science journal.

But How Does it Work?

Let me walk you through a Unit. Let’s use Unit 9 as our sample. A picture is a worth a thousand words right?  Take a look at this screen shot.  Pay close attention to the list of links on the right hand side. The page shown is the Unit 9 Light (Getting Started) page. Read about light and watch the video. (That pretty picture at the bottom is a video.)Unit 9 List of Links

I like to download the PDF’s because they contain an overview of the lesson, shopping list divided by lesson, key vocabulary, text readings, exercises and answers. They even include abbreviated content from the videos.  All of this information and material is available through those links on the sidebar but I like how it nicely laid out it is in the PDF.  I also find it an easier format to use especially when trying to figure out what materials we need to complete the activities and experiments.

After watching the video on the main topic page, my girls then go to the Lesson Material and watch the video and read through the objectives. At this point both girls tend to do the textbook reading. Then they read through the list of activities and experiments to decide which ones interest them the most.

One daughter likes to watch the experiment videos to decide which ones to actually do. She ends up watching all of the activity and experiment videos, “even the ones [she] doesn’t do.”  Then she picks the ones that she wants and watches the video a second time while doing the activity or completing the experiment.

The girls make a spectrometer.

The other daughter reads through the list and makes her choice. She watches the videos while doing the activity.  She does usually go back and watch many of the videos of the experiments and activities that she doesn’t do.

Both girls tend to do the exercises after watching all the videos and completing activities and experiments.  The written exercises become part of their science notebooks.

Sometimes the girls work independently. This allows them to pursue the topics that most interest them and gives them flexibility to go at their own pace. Sometimes they do choose the same topic so that they can do the activities together.

Turtlegirl watches a video presentation e-Science Review

Tailorbear watches e-Science in full screen mode

 

Do I need to purchase additional items to complete the activities?

One of the things we love about the e-Science program is how Aurora uses so many things you can find around the house. Yes some specialty things are necessary but she provides links to where you can purchase those items. When Turtlegirl was working through units 10 (Electricity) and 14 (Electronics) we became very familiar with our local Radio Shack store.

One of the fabulous things about this program though is that you do not have to complete every activity of every unit so if an activity has something that is difficult or expensive to obtain, the student will still benefit by just watching the video for that activity.

Another great thing about the activities is that many of the lessons re-use items so even though you might invest in things like alligator clips and transistors, these items are re-used in several activities and often in more than one unit.

Collage of circuit board from e-Science review

Why I love Supercharged Science!

  • Aurora is knowledgeable, fun, engaging, and enthusiastic.  She gets my daughters excited about science.
  • I don’t have to teach.  I do not have a science background. I don’t have to try to present these concepts.
  • A shopping list of materials needed is available to members for every unit. The list has items denoted when the supply is only needed for 9-12.
  • e-Science covers topics that I know I would not otherwise cover in my homeschool such as electricity, circuits, and robotics.
  • Aurora encourages the students to keep a journal/portfolio and to document the experiments and activities that they complete.
  • The science is real.  It’s up to date.  Complicated terms and concepts are presented in a way that students can grasp and understand.
  • My children have never complained or balked when I told them to go do their science.

Tailorbear explores circuits with online science

You’ve told me all these great things, are there any weaknesses?

I do think this is a fabulous online homeschool science curriculum and I do recommend it even with these weaknesses:

  • Although there are 4 units covering life science and biology, the material is only for grades K-8.  There is no high school level biology presented.
  • There is no high school level Geology presented.
  • Navigating the website can be difficult.  Once you’ve entered a specific lesson in a unit you can not easily get back to the unit.
  • Turtlegirl notes that the answers for the exercises are on the same page as the questions which “makes things a bit tempting.”  ~ [Mom Notes] When I am on top of my organizing game, I download the exercises and print them and I am able to separate the questions and the answers but it is more convenient to let her work from the website. 

What did we think?

Turtlegirl: "This is an excellent program. I like how you can do the reading and experiments in any order you like. One of the things I especially like is Aurora's enthusiasm. She really loves science and it shows! I like that she shows you how to do the experiment, and then tells you why it works. I also enjoyed the 'electronics' unit. I loved breadboarding circuits and I even built a Jigglebot! (Poor Jigglebot... He broke. :( ) Did you know that red light has the longest wavelength and the shortest frequency? I really liked how there was a unit entirely devoted to light. Light is really complex, but Supercharged Science helped me understand it better."

Tailorbear: "I love how this program uses simple things that are fairly easy to find for experiments. (There are a few exceptions) I don't feel like putting together an experiment is too much work. Aurora is wonderful. She's enthusiastic and she loves getting her hands dirty just as much as I do, or at least it feels like it!  The lessons are fairly easy to understand. Even if more complex topics are the subject."

Mom: (That’s Me!): This science program has sparked a love of science in both of my daughters. They have been able to explore science concepts that I am not sure I would have been able to expose them to in any other way. Robotics? Astrophysics? Light? I would not have been able to teach those topics and I would have shied away from trying to tackle them with a more traditional textbook. Right now Supercharged Science is offering one month of either level for just $1. I highly recommend checking out this program.

Supercharged Science LOGO

The Details:

  • The Vendor:  Supercharged Science
  • The Product: e-Science Program (We reviewed the K-12 option)
  • The Author:  Aurora Lipper
  • Format: Enrollment in online membership.  Content is all online. Some content such as text reading, exercises and shopping lists are available to download as PDFs
  • Age Range: K-12
  • Price:  K-8 ~ $37  K-12 $57
  • NOTE: The website shows the levels as K-8 and 9-12.  The 9-12 also includes all the materials available in the K-8 Level.
  • User Guide:  In the upper right hand corner of the e-Science page is a link to a PDF User Guide. It gives a beautiful overview of how to use the program!
  • Free Access to Samples:  You can check out some sample experiments.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about Aurora’s e-Science Program.

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All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.

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