Monday, April 8, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Supercharged Science

We were super excited when we were chosen to review Supercharged Science!  You all know by now that my Gess is a little scientist.  She loves and adores anything scientific, especially if it involves hands on experiments and research.  With science being my least favorite subject, I love finding curriculum that does all the work for you. Supercharged Science offers both of those things.

For the purpose of my review I was given a year subscription to the entire e-Science Online Learning Program.

This K-12 learning program has over 20 units covering physical science, chemistry, life science and biology with tons of hands on experiments.  Each unit can be worked alone and comes with lesson plans, getting started notes, highlights, text readings, videos that teach the experiments or concepts and plenty of exercises for the child to answer at the end of each unit plus so much more.  Here is how it works.

Supercharged Science can be used two ways.  One is to use it as a supplement with your current science curriculum and they even provide a conversion chart to help assist you in finding which unit will go well with your current homeschool curriculum.  Supercharged Science also works well as an independent curriculum without needing a book. It has text reading available on the website, questions to answer to test their knowledge and of course the cool videos and experiments which are great for either method.

We tried it both ways.  I first used it as a supplement to what we were currently studying and found it really did correspond well to our current biology studies.  Gess really loved having more experiments to explore concepts she was already comfortable with. We had just finished learning about bones and muscles so we started by exploring their experiment videos in that unit.

Unlike many other science learning methods, the e-Science Online Learning Program is not simply about learning facts and then doing one or two experiments before moving on to learn more facts.  They want you to really dig in and explore each unit to it's fullest and to start, rather than end with, doing experiments.  By starting with the fun, hands on exploration of science the kids are then full of questions and have a greater desire to actually study the why of what just happened.  Of course by using this as a supplement, Gess had much of the why down in this unit, but she certainly did enjoy just diving in and getting right to the fun stuff.

After watching all the videos, which there were about 15 of them, Gess chose 4 or 5 experiments to try.  We started with the Robotic Hand which is a good demonstration of how the ligaments and tendons work in your hand.  The video really walks you through the step by step instructions about how to do make the Robotic Hand but also explains what you are learning as well.  

After watching the video we got our supplies together and followed the instructions and made our own hand.  This was actually trickier than it looked.  Our main problem was that our rubber bands were too small and they didn't want to stick with the glue gun.  I also had thinner and weaker string which kept popping out so I had to help Gess who has special needs and lacks some motor skills necessary for doing this alone.  It didn't matter though, she still enjoyed it. Here she is watching the video as we began.  You can see her crunching her hand as Aurora was explaining how the hand works.

Here she has her finished robotic hand.  When she pulled the strings she could make the fingers curl up!

I then decided to pause our study and try Supercharged Science as it's own curriculum and because of that experiment we figured we would start with robotics.  We actually haven't entered into the robotics part of the unit yet.  Their unit 10 covers electricity and robotics and we are still exploring the electrical side of things, but we will get to it soon enough.  In the mean time we are having lots of fun learning about electricity.

I did find that with Gess' special needs the reading material was a bit over her head and since electricity isn't something she has explored very much we did need additional resources to help her understand the concepts.  The videos, however, were much easier for her to follow and comprehend.

Before we could get started we needed to get some supplies.  One really handy thing each unit offers is a shopping list.  This is great for parents because you can make sure that before your kid gets excited about doing an experiment you will have the items already on hand for them to do it.  You will even find that you already have some of the items in your house or they will at least be easy to find.  A few of the units though, like the one of electricity, do call for some specialized parts.  However the brains behind Supercharged Science thought well enough to prepare you for that too and in this unit they even placed the Radio Shack product number next to each item that could be found there!  Really, you can not just pick up LED bulbs and potentiometers just any where so this was extremely helpful.  The associate at the Radio Shack we went to even commented about how handy it was to have the part numbers with us because they even had trouble finding some of the parts without it.  It certainly sped up our time at the store.  We were then ready to introduce Gess to electricty!

First we just showed her how a circuit worked by following the instructions in the video.  We got our battery pack connected to our alligator lead clips and then attached them to the LED bulb.  Here is Gess connecting it.

And then we had light!

From there we tried more than one LED and then added a switch so she could control when the light went on and off.

Again I do not think Gess grasped the concept behind what was happening but of course that is due more to her special needs and not so much the curriculum, but even if she didn't comprehend it all at least she had fun doing it!  She is now exploring it more though and just checked out some library books on the subject.

 There is so much more I can tell you about this program as it is very comprehensive but here is a short video to show you more of what it is like in action.

Supercharged Science has two level plans for it's e-Science Online Learning Program.

The K-12 program gives you access to all parts of the program which includes additional videos and experiments geared specifically for older students in 9-12 grade and costs $57.00 per month.

The K-8 program gives you access to all the content geared for students K-8 grade and costs $37.00 per month.

On a personal level I find it pretty much of out my price range to use on a regular basis for us, but larger families might find it quite the bargain and convenience to have one curriculum for the whole family.  While Gess enjoyed the videos and experiments the other material was not as special needs friendly as we require.  While I do think it would be a great companion with other curriculum the price then becomes an even greater issue because you have to pay for both.  While Gess and I liked the program, it just doesn't suit our very specific needs and budget.  I think families who do not have our needs to consider might find it more compatible.  To learn more visit the Supercharged Science website or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.


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Kathy said...

What a great review Lori, I love the pictures and the detail of how the experiments went. The robotics section sounds very appealing!

Erica B said...

Really nice review! Great pictures. I love how you used the program. Stopping by from the Crew. :-)


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