Monday, April 8, 2013

Supercharged Science (Schoolhouse Review)

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We really like using hands-on science and I know how important that is for kids to develop an enthusiasm for the subject. But….it’s so much easier to just read the science book instead of scrambling for equipment, making a mess, and taking a big chunk of time out of the school day to get those experiments done!
When I first saw Supercharged Science, it was a bit overwhelming! But the program did look like a lot of fun, so I asked to review it and try it out in our home.
The e-Science program ($37 a month) includes videos of Aurora Lipper (the author/teacher) teaching science lessons, access to hundreds of science activities, experiments, and projects, homework exercises and quizzes, and life tele-classes. Within a unit, these activities can be done in any order, according to the student’s interest. Aurora Lipper suggests that letting kids dig into the fun, hands-on parts first ignites an interest that will make the kids want to find out how it all works by reading more.
If you are already using another science program and want to use Supercharged Science as a supplement, the website provides guides for over 20 different curricula that match Supercharged experiments with the appropriate chapters and lessons in other curricula.
Supercharged Science  can be used for grades K-12. There are extra “textbook readings” and more difficult experiments for high school students that beef it up.
The goal of Supercharged Science is to ignite a passion for science in kids by providing fun and exciting activities and experiments that really work. Each of the experiments is demonstrated in a video—great for kids who don’t read well yet, and helpful for those experiments that you might not be able to do for some reason.
There are currently 19 study units  (and more to come) in the e-science program that cover mechanics, motion, matter, energy, sound, electricity, light, magnetism, life science and more. Each unit has several weeks worth of material. Although we had access to all 19 units, typically a new subscriber has access to the first 7 units, with 2 more being added each month.P1020944
Emily looked over the units and chose the Chemistry unit to begin with. I think being able to choose her area of interest made her even more excited to begin.
Aurora states: “The reason we do experiments in chemistry is to hone your observations skills.”  This was the focus of many of the chemistry experiments. Emily observed the chemicals, mixed them according to instruction, then observed the changes in color, smell, and heat. She learned about chemical reactions and how to identify them. We talked about the chemical symbols of each of the chemicals and how atoms would rearrange themselves into different chemicals during a reaction, but didn’t actually get into balancing chemical equations in this unit.
Emily loved this unit because of the really cool experiments. Many of them used common household supplies like baking soda, vinegar, and borax. Others were easily obtained or we found in an old chemistry kit I had on hand. We did have to skip a few experiments because we didn’t have the chemicals, but this is really a “pick and choose” kind of curriculum anyway—many of the experiments taught the same concepts, so they are not all mandatory.
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Discovering that Carbon Dioxide is Denser Than Air
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Slime is a polymer!
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Observing Reactions
Next, we moved on to Unit 1, Mechanics. This was actually a better place to start because, although the units can be done in any order, the videos in the first unit did some explaining to the student about how the program worked.  We fond that many of the experiments in this unit were very quick to do and are followed by a short explanation of the “why” behind the experiment. Here, Emily learned about (or reviewed) gravity, the earth’s magnetic field, force, and friction.  I really liked how quick and easy these projects were to do. (Simple experiment, simple explanation, but good solid learning!)
As we worked through the  Chemistry unit, I helped Emily, made sure she did the reading, and discussed concepts with her. For the  Mechanics unit, however, I wanted to see just how she would do on her own, so I pretty much turned her loose (and watched from a distance.) As a middle schooler, she was able to be quite independent, although I did have to remind her that there was some reading to do, since she gravitated to the videos and experiments first. When she finished each section, I printed out the exercises page for her to fill out, so that we could both see what she had learned.
We picked some experiments from Unit 3, Motion to use with our home school group science club.  The kids watched a video that taught Newton’s 3 Laws of Motion,  then raced soup cans (cream of mushroom and broth) down a slope, figured the velocity of several objects dropped from a height, and knocked a pie plate out from under a ball, which then fell directly down into the cup below.  I was pleased with the good thinking the kids did as they thought up variations to the experiments. (“What if we used a heavier/lighter ball?'” “What if we used an empty can?”)
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Conclusion: In case you haven’t already figured out what I think…. Supercharged Science is a great way to get kids enthused about science! Interested? Just visit the site to get 30 free experiments!
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I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very solid review! Thank you for sharing!

    Warmly,
    Kate

    ReplyDelete