Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Supercharged Science (Schoolhouse Review)

Age range:  K-12
Price:         $37 a month for K-8 materials; $57 for K-8 plus the expanded 9-12 content.
We were introduced to Supercharged Science last year and had a lot of fun with all the hands-on activities (2013 Supercharged Science Review) so I was excited to have the opportunity to review it again this year and share some more of the fun science activities on the site. We were given the e-Science Premium Membership to use for the purposes of this review.
These excerpts from the e-Science User Guide explain how it all works. Basically, you pick a topic (from the topic list, or within a grade level), watch an introductory video, watch videos for individual experiments and do the experiments, then, once interest is piqued, read about the topic, and answer the review questions.
There are two ways to approach the vast amount of material on the Supercharged Science site—by topic and by grade level. Each grade level includes experiments, activities, and reading material from a few specific topics that are typically studied at that grade level. The “topic” option allows the student to pick and choose a topic of interest or to coordinate activities with a science text.
I think the grade level option is new since last year, and that might be a comfortable way to begin for a family that wants to focus on topics that might be traditionally taught in each grade. Since we covered several complete units last year (Chemistry, Mechanics, and Motion), there was some overlap with the eighth grade curriculum and we decided to just pick another unit of interest and jump in. Emily has been studying physical science this year, so we started with Unit 3: Matter (Atoms, Density, and Solids), completed it, and are just beginning Unit 4: Energy 1 (Pulleys and Levers).
Usually, new users to Supercharged Science will only have access to the first few units. Access to additional units is unlocked each month. This makes the site less overwhelming, because it includes a vast amount of material once everything is accessible! However, if the user has particular interest in a particular topic, he or she can just request access to it, and it will be unlocked. (The company is very helpful, and wants you to be able to have the best possible experience.)
The e-Science program offers 27 different units and is heavier on physical science concepts, but also includes units on biology, chemistry, the scientific method, and science fair projects. Each of these units takes 2 weeks or more to complete, and includes videos, experiments, reading material, and review questions. Some activities are labeled “for advanced learners.” These activities tend to require solving mathematical equations or involve more dangerous materials, and are more appropriate for high school, or possibly middle school ages.
The “heart” of the e-Science program is videos and experiments. Each experiment is accompanied by, not only clear instructions, but a video of Aurora Lipper performing the experiment and explaining it. Aurora’s enthusiasm is contagious and is sure to spark your child’s interest in the topic. Ideally, the student will pick and choose from the projects that spark his interest, watch the video, and jump into doing the activity himself. Each unit also includes reading material and review questions that can be used as a test. Many of the experiments also include printable worksheets that lead the student in thinking through the process and documenting findings and conclusions. I really like these, because I know that Emily can rush through an experiment or activity without taking away from it what she is expected to learn. The worksheets help the student relate what he or she sees to the concept.
Last year, I helped Emily with most of the activities. This year, she wanted to be more independent, so I let her do everything on her own. The only requirement was that she come to me to explain each experiment after she was finished and that she read the informational material in addition to doing the experiments. So, I’ve just spent several weeks teaching NO science. Emily made an “A” on the final test of Unit 3, so the process obviously works. And she had fun doing it! While younger children will certainly require assistance, middle schoolers and high schoolers should be able to work independently with this program.
Here are some of the experiments Emily performed while learning about atoms, density, and solids:
“Blowing up” soap in the microwave oven
Homemade lava lamp
Making moon sand
Growing salt and vinegar crystals
Making a penny “crystal structure”
If you would like to add more hands-on activities to your current science program or to try teaching science in a whole new way, you may want to take a look at the Supercharged Science e-Science program. You can try out the Supercharged Science e-Science curriculum for just $1 for the first month.  This is a great opportunity to see if the program is right for you. (Use the above link.)  Or grab a Free Copy of the Science Activity Video Series and Guidebook to try selected activities. 
Connect with Supercharged Science:

Click to read Crew Reviews

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

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