Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring Scavenger Hunt

We have finally started to experience some nice Spring weather here in our neck of the woods, and we actually have been able to go outside a few times with <gasp> NO coats on!!

One day, the girls were finished with their schoolwork extremely early for some reason (can you say spring fever?) and were looking for something to fill that extra time, as well as looking for an excuse to go outside and enjoy the nice weather.

I just happened to have come across a lovely Spring Scavenger Hunt free printable on a blog that I follow, so I printed out a copy for them, gave them the camera and sent them outside!

Ben and Me
The blog where I found the Scavenger Hunt!

Here are some of the picture the girls took as they explored the backyard in Spring, armed with their Scavenger Hunt worksheet! They had a blast! As you will see, it was still a little too cold for bees and butterflies, so the girls improvised a little bit!

A bird flying in the sky!
A flower breaking through the ground!

 A bird's nest being worked on.

 A rain puddle.

 You can't really see it, but they insist they were tracking an ant in this picture!

 Buds on the trees - finally!

 A bluebird occupying a homemade birdhouse in our backyard!

 A duck!

 A Frog!!

This was the closest thing they could find to a of my garden statues!

 They were happy to not actually have a real bumblebee to take a picture of!

 No sign of any real caterpillars yet either.....

Here is a follow up picture of the tulips that were shown up top. Laura took this picture just a few days ago, because she was fascinated with the way the sunshine shines right on this plant every morning.

It has been wonderful to feel the warmth and regeneration of spring, and I hope you are enjoying it as well!

Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Blogging Through The Alphabet - F

Bags of Italian sausage, peppers, and onions ready to go into the freezer!
F is for Freezer Cooking
As a mom, one thing that is very important and high on my priority list is that my family eats together, and has healthy and tasty meals when doing so. I have found it very difficult to devote time to cooking, especially with a busy homeschooling and church schedule.  Since it is important though, I have been on the hunt to find a way to make it a little easier.
Last year, I first heard of the phenomenon of "freezer cooking", also called "once a month cooking."  I bought a book full of recipes, and of course, searched around on the internet for good ideas.
Freezing food isn't a new concept to me. I would often make more of a recipe than I needed, so that I could freeze some. Or I would freeze leftovers in small containers to eliminate food waste, and have something easy available for a future lunch. I found that making and freezing muffins and waffles was cheaper than buying them already frozen, and that it was healthier too!
I am also very aware that with the multitude of food allergies here in the family, freezing food and snacks would make cooking multiple meals at once a little bit easier on myself.  (Most meals I cook at least two separate things, sometimes more! This accommodates dairy allergies, gluten free needs, and many more....)
When I first looked into freezer cooking, it seemed a little overwhelming. I ended up starting small, and just doing a few meals, to try it out. Since I found it very convenient, and thought the meals tasted good, I explored more.
Last fall, I actually WON a year long membership to "Once A Month Mom,"  which is a website dedicated to once a month and freezer cooking. They have actual full month menus that will give you a variety of meals. They also have gluten free and whole foods menus available. With the menu comes a shopping list, recipe cards, and directions. You can enter the amount of people you are cooking for, and the site tailors your list to accommodate that number of people.
In January, I had my first official cooking day! I had my menu and recipes ready, and got my shopping all done. I was ready to tackle that list!!! It ended up taking myself and a friend a day and a half to complete everything! I didn't get discouraged though, I just kept pressing on.
I am now in my fourth month of cooking this way. Maybe not enough to be a 'veteran', but definitely enough experience to know that I love it, and probably will never go back to my old ways as long as I have children in the house to school and feed!
Another website I found that has some really great recipes is "Six Sister's Stuff". They even have a list of "8 Crock Pot Meals In An Hour" that you can assemble and throw in the freezer. (It did take me a little longer than an hour, though).
I have devoted a whole Pinterest Board to freezer cooking recipes I have found.  One of my kids' favorite things for me to make is a huge stack of waffles. Occasionally, I will get out the waffle iron and make a HUGE batch of batter, and spend about an hour just making waffles. The kids are allowed to eat a couple, but the rest get tucked into the freezer. I will flash freeze them on cookie sheets, then pack into gallon freezer bags. The kids love having them for a quick and easy breakfast.
On my last cooking day, I took some pictures. Not only did I want to remember how crazy the day was, but I thought I could post here and maybe encourage someone else who is struggling to find the right balance in meal preparation.  While my family is not crazy about casseroles, they have adapted a bit, because they know it is better for all of us overall to have a calmer household in the afternoons. They also know that if we are out all afternoon with appointments or activities, that it is nice to come home and eat when we are starving, and not have to wait another hour till mom can get something scraped together for dinner.  They have had a lot of patience with me as I try out new recipes on them, to find what works and what doesn't.  I have also tried to take some of our family favorites and adapt them to be freeze and reheat meals.
As a result of the extra planning, shopping sales, buying things in bulk, and making meals that don't have a lot of leftovers and waste, I have been able to cut our grocery bill almost in half with freezer cooking! That has made me very happy, and also given me a little more money to spend on fresh produce.
Here are some pictures from the past month:

Canned and dry goods piled up and waiting to be used.
 Cheese to be shredded.
Shredding cheese is a great job to involve the kids in meal preparation!
Produce and perishables
Veggies! It takes a long time to prep the veggies!
Piles of meat that I got on sale very cheap!
All the meat laid out and ready for us to start cutting and cooking!
The crock pot will become your friend! It's great to set something in there, start the school day, then smell good stuff all day long! It's wonderful to know that dinner is almost ready!
Making and freezing a huge batch of egg rolls! Take out as many as you need, for a quick lunch or for a real Chinese dinner!
Big batches of homemade granola!
A quick, easy, and healthy breakfast!
If you would like to try out freezer cooking, I have a few pieces of advice that I have been learning along the way:
  • Start small, with just a few meals that you can do in an afternoon, and see if your family likes it, or if the style of cooking suits your tastes.
  • Use good freezing materials! Spend the little extra to get good quality bags that won't leak.
  • Shop sales and stock up on meats that are cheaper.
  • Don't neglect the side dishes! There are some really great sides you can make and freeze as well, such as cooked rice, cooked potatoes, pastas, biscuits, and cookies!
  • Your food prep day will always take longer than you anticipate!
  • You should try to do your cooking on a day when your kids can be occupied with doing something else and you don't have to watch them, unless they are old enough to hang in there with you all day and work hard, and be a help in the kitchen. If they do help, make it rewarding for them by getting them a special treat or something to munch on.
  • Always practice good food safety habits when thawing meals. Best way is to thaw in the fridge the night before, then put your food into the crockpot in the morning.
Have fun!!!!
Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.
Blogging Through the AlphabetThis post is linked up with "Blogging Through the Alphabet" at "Ben and me." Stop by to see what everyone else wrote for the letter "F". 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: Math Rider

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My girls are crazy about horses, and I feel very strongly about having basic math facts memorized, so I was very happy to have the opportunity to review the Math Rider program through The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I have found that the better a student has mastered basic math facts, the easier it is for them to move on to higher levels of math mastery, including algebra.

Math Rider is a computer based program targeted to children ages 6-12, to help them master their math facts. It has four levels: easy (covers the 0-5 families), medium (covers the 0-10 families), advanced (covers the 0-12 families), and master, which reviews all the families, and puts extra emphasis on any that have been troublesome to the student throughout the game.

This program was designed by a dad whose children were struggling with math because they did not have a good grasp on the fact families. He could not find a program that worked well to drill them on those facts, so he created his own!

Up to eight different users can use this program. (Although there is a license that can be purchased for classroom use that would allow for more students). Students sign in and create a "rider". Each rider has their own log in and password, so your student is only competing to improve their own score, not against other students, which can be frustrating and discouraging.

When riders log on, they are taken to a board that starts a story. It is a fantasy story, in a fantasy land. They are given a horse named "Shadow" to ride through the various quests, and they can choose from their home page to either practice or start a quest. Each quest has a different story, based on the level chosen. Each quest comes in sets of 30 questions, and progress is plotted on a map at the end of the quest. The program keeps tabs on time, percentage of mastery, and percentage of completion of the quest. It gives very instant feedback continually throughout the program. If the student gets a problem wrong, after several attempts, the play will momentarily stop to audibly repeat the question and answer, and then the student will see that problem come up repeatedly until it is mastered.

Students merely enter the numerical answers to the math questions (2+2=__). There is no extra hand-eye coordination needed to perform other tasks - all the focus is on the math. Each math problem is set as a "jump" for the horse to jump over. When the question is answered correctly, the horse continues to run and jump all the fences. When a question is answered wrong, the game slows down a bit, as the horse stops at the fence and the problem is repeated.

The story lines of the quests include retrieving medicine, gems, and freeing a princess. There is music playing in the background which my children found enjoyable. What they really loved though, was the sound effect of the horses' hooves galloping along the trail. The sound can be turned off if desired.

As the students successfully complete levels of play, they are rewarded with virtual prizes such as animated flowers, flags, or castles for their home screen. They keep those prizes on their home screen as they work their way through various quests to gain more prizes and solve more dilemmas that are brought up in the story line.

Map chart showing the student their progress through a particular quest. 

Here is a sample video of the Math Rider program:

System requirements: This game can be played without an internet connection. After the initial purchase, it is downloaded to your computer and stored on the hard drive, taking up 80 MB of space. I put a shortcut right on the desktop so the kids could easily sign in to it. It can be played on either Mac or Windows. It uses Adobe Air to operate. See the website for additional system requirements.

Cost: The program can be purchased for $47. which gives you complete access, and lifetime free updates. It also has a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, and a free 7 day trial for you to try it out with your students to see how they like it.

How we used the program: We had three riders using the program during our review period. Kelly (a 2nd grader), Melissa (a 6th grader), and Mom! Kelly has learned all her addition and subtraction families, and has just started multiplication/division families in the past few months. Math Rider was a great way for her to practice her facts. She started on the easy level, and actually completed it and moved on to the medium level in both addition and subtraction! Her mastery level was improved by 23% while using the program. (Yes, it does keep track of such things! More on that in a moment...)

Melissa also started on easy level, but quickly progressed through to higher levels as well. She showed a 17% overall improvement on her mastery.  Both the girls use a math curriculum where fact review is built in on a daily basis, through repetition and speed drills, but this was a much more fun way to get that practice. The girls have enjoyed using the program. At first, they would do multiple quests a day and I had to set a time limit on how long they could play. As they advanced through the levels and the problems got harder and came faster, of course they weren't as enthusiastic to play for as long, but they still signed in on their own with no prompting, and would complete at least a part of a quest, on a near daily basis.

This is Kelly's mastery table in the beginning, when we first started the program. The green squares show facts that are mastered. The gray squares were facts that were not yet challenged. The various shades of yellow and orange show facts that are in need of improvement.

For myself, I really wanted to put the program through it's paces, and see what it could do, so I played it to gain mastery and see what kind of neat things would happen as I advanced through the levels. :-) I am happy to say that I achieved mastery of all 4 areas of operation, and the ending IS very cool! (But I won't spoil it - you will have to wait and see what happens on your own!)

Even though our review period is over, the girls continue to use it every school day, usually for about 10-15 minutes. It is enough time to complete several rides, and depending on how well they are doing, perhaps even complete an entire quest. I plan on having them continue, especially over the summer, to keep their skills sharp. I also hope to have Kelly much quicker with her multiplication facts before entering 3rd grade in the fall.

What I loved about this program:  That's easy - I LOVED the interaction and intelligence of the program. It self-adjusts to the speed and level that the student is playing at. If they are answering questions slower, their horse runs a bit slower, to keep pace. If they are answering quicker, it adjusts to that as well. And it keeps track of EVERYTHING - how long it took the student to answer a question, compared to how quickly they usually answer that same fact, as well as what facts they have mastered and which ones they need improvement with. If a certain fact is being answered at a slower pace than the others, that fact will be given to the student more frequently than ones they have no problems with. The program is designed to completely customize itself to that particular student based on their input. I was truly amazed by the way the program self-adjusted!

Also, for a fact junkie like me, I loved being able to see the progress that the girls were making in so many different ways! I was able to allow them to just play the program on their own, and not have to pay attention to every little detail to see what they were having trouble with. When they were finished, I would just look at their progress area and see for myself what their stats were. The program reports the students' stats in every conceivable way! I have included a few screen shots to show some of the reports. I was very impressed with the reports!

 This shows the level of mastery with each math operation. 

This graph shows the improvement in the time it took to answer this particular math problem. As you can see, the time was greatly improved with the repeated reviewing of this fact. (From nearly 7 seconds to just over 1 second)

This chart gives a detailed summary of each particular fact, and it's history in the student's games.

A visual view of the improvement for a given fact.
A few areas for improvement: Overall, I really liked this game. I think it is very unique, and is a tremendous way for children to quickly improve their math facts and get those facts solidified in their brains. There are a few things I would tweak if I could: 
  • It would be more interesting if the story lines could be more varied. Basically, it repeats the same story line for all the operations in a certain level. The children were disappointed when doing subtraction on the easy level, for instance, that it was the same story line as when they did addition on the easy level.
  • I wish there was a way to save a certain quest, then return to it later, after doing something else in the program. The way it is set up, if the children were working on an addition quest, they had to complete it before they could work on a multiplication quest. They could not go back and forth between two different operations. If they started a new quest, they would lose the progress they had made on the old quest.
  • I wish the Mathlands map could chart all the quests that have been completed, not just the current one the student is working on.
  • I think it would be wonderful if there was a way to mix operations on a quest, instead of just working on only one type of problem. They are only able to mix addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division on practice runs that don't earn awards or count towards mastery. Actual quests are only one type of operation though, not a mixture of various problems.
  • There were a few strange graphics that seemed somewhat out of place. My children picked up on them right away, and didn't care for them. They said that the graphics looked evil and spooky. Here is an example of one: a face etched into the rock on one of the quest rides:

There is only one other thing about this program that I feel I must mention. While I cannot emphasize enough how effective this program is, there is one aspect of it that I didn't care for. I have a personal dislike for using 'magic' themed elements with my children. It may seem harmless, but I definitely will avoid a product that has thematic elements of wizards and magic, out of personal preference. This program had a light sprinkling of those themes. Out of obligation to those who know me well, read my blog and would consider purchasing this product on my recommendation, I really feel compelled to at least mention the presence of it so you can make a well-informed decision. If you feel strongly about such things, you should definitely at least trial the program free before purchasing to make sure you would be ok with how these story lines are presented, such as this example:
Would you like to read what other crew members thought of this program?  Click the banner below to read other reviews! 

Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Blogging Through The Alphabet - E

Blogging Through the Alphabet
To read more "Blogging Through the Alphabet Posts, go to "Ben And Me".

E is for Energy!
Where is energy produced in the human body? In little factories in the cells, called mitochondria. These tiny little work stations take what is needed from the food we eat and the air we breathe, and turn them into energy for our body to use.
We have come very familiar with this tiny part of our cells, due to the fact that several people in the family have a Mitochondrial Disorder, meaning their mitochondria don't work the way they are supposed to. Unfortunately, most people, including me, take our mitochondria for granted....until they stop functioning the way they are supposed to!
Here is a great video explaining how energy is made inside a cell:
Unfortunately, when the mitochondria fail, organs don't receive the energy they need to function, and they also begin to fail.
Here is a model of a cell, showing where the mitochondria are located:
Taken from the UMDF website.


If you are interested in learning more about Mitochondrial Disease and it's affect on a person's energy, please visit the UMDF page - What is Mitochondrial Disease? or MitoAction's page on Understanding the Energy Budget. 
Living with Mito is like running on half-strength batteries all day long.  Often, the energy is just not there to fulfill the desires that one has to accomplish.
Energy - we are in a constant search for it, and budget what we have to make sure we are able to do as much as we can!
Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Review: Knowledge Quest - The Complete Sacagawea Saga

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We love history and we love books, so it was a pleasure to review the complete Sacagawea Saga from Knowledge Quest for The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.

The Sacagawea Saga is recommended for ages 10 and up. It is an historical fiction novel e-book that is 112 pages and 16 chapters long. It has a middle school reading level. When you click here you will be taken to Knowledge Quest's website, where there is a link to purchase the entire book (4 parts) from Amazon for $4.97.  It is downloadable to a Kindle.

We received the book as a downloadable e-book, and read the entire book on our computer.

 photo SacagaweaBook_zps004a015c.jpgThe story starts when Sacagawea was just a little girl, and progresses through her kidnapping, life with her captors, marriage to Charbonneau, and finally as a guide to the famous Lewis and Clark expedition that she is best known for. This e-book is a 'living book' meaning every unfamiliar word and term is highlighted and linked to an explanation. There were many words that were Indian names for various objects. It made it very easy to know what it was the book was discussing, just by clicking the linked word and seeing an explanation pop up. It was also fascinating to see all the extras, such as dugout canoes, animal tracks, and photos that came up and added a richness to the story.

I read this book first, and shared parts of it with the girls. They have not read the entire book through from beginning to end. There were a few areas in the book that I thought might be a little intense for the younger girls, because they are very sensitive in that way. The book is well written and vivid, and portrays a lot of details of Sacagawea's life - both the pleasant and not-so-pleasant ones. I would have no problem with my teens reading it on their own though, because there was nothing inappropriate and tough situations were handled delicately.

This book is not an exhaustive study on Sacagawea. What it does is make her story come alive, and transports you as a reader to the time when she was alive, giving you a vivid glimpse into her life.  It would make a great, enjoyable extra reading book to go along with a study of the American Age of Exploration. Some of the details of her life make much more sense now after reading how various scenarios played out through this book.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found it captivating and hard to put down, and read it in a short time. The girls have enjoyed the book as well, and I look forward to using it even more as they study through that particular time in history!

Click on the banner below to see what other Crew members thought of this book, or how they have used it in their homeschool!

Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Whose Kids Are They Anyways?

Recently, there has been much talk in the media concerning statements that have been made regarding society's vs. parent's responsibility towards their children.

Traditionally, and Biblically, it has always been recognized that parents who bring children into this world are also responsible for their spiritual training and character development. They are responsible for their care and upkeep. And parents are also held responsible and liable if those children commit crimes or create expensive situations before they reach the age of adulthood.

These are God-given responsibilities. As Americans, they have also been guaranteed rights.

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."

Sadly, we frequently hear and know of parents neglecting this responsibility.  More and more though, we are hearing of this right, privilege, and responsibility being challenged. Society, the media, and the government seems to feel that they "own" the children.

Consider this statement made recently by a major news network reporter:

In the ad, Harris-Perry, looking off camera, says the U.S. never invested properly in public education. “We’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours, and your responsibility,” she says. “We haven’t had a very collective notion of ‘These are our children.’ So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that ‘kids belong to their parents’ or ‘kids belong to their families,’ and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”

This notion that kids belong collectively to a community really is absurd.  Biblically, parenting children is a sober and grave charge given to parents, not the community. Parents are to teach their children of God, and how to function in this world. Parents will give an account to God of how thoroughly they upheld that duty. While parents can choose to place that children under the tutelage of another, even that training is something that parents should remain involved in. Parents are commanded by God to hold the heart of their child, and to guide them into all truth.

My family has chosen to fulfill that parenting duty by homeschooling. While we understand that homeschooling is not the best choice for every family, we consider it a privilege and an honor that our family can do so. There are also good Christian schools that are doing a wonderful job training children in partnership with the desire of the parents. A good school will back the authority of the parents, not tear it down.

This all out assault on the family and parental authority has resulted in a very unique case that is being fought right here in America. Please watch the following video about a German family that sought political asylum in America due to persecution in their home country. They are fighting deportation by the Obama Administration at this very moment.

While I could comment that the government has no problem allowing criminals and illegals stay in this country and even obtain asylum, yet will go after a law abiding family trying to do things the right way, that is not the point. Really, the point is that if the government can swing the pendulum in their favor on this one, that it will only reinforce that point of view that parents are not the best ones to make decisions for their family and decide how to raise their children.

Allowing a case like this to go unchallenged will set a precedent, and start us down a very slippery slope. Often court cases are decided by precedent, meaning the judge is not sure what is the best decision so he will look back on similar cases to see how they were decided, and what precedent has been set, then he will lay down his judgment in a similar vein.

I do not know this family personally. I don't know their beliefs. What I do know is that by standing up for their right to choose the education of their children and apply for asylum in America, I feel that I am standing up for my own future, and for the future of my children when they become parents one day. Perhaps if Christians, Americans, and homeschoolers unite and stand for our beliefs, we can prolong the freedoms we hold dear, and slow the crash course to destruction that our society seems to be committed to.

Spread the word. Sign the petition. Pray. And Stand!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review: Supercharged Science

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Over this past month, we have had the privilege to review the e-science online learning program through Supercharged Science as a part of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Supercharged Science is an online Science curriculum taught by a real scientist named Aurora Lipper. Her credentials include working for NASA as a rocket scientist, as well as teaching science on all levels, including at the university level. Her love for science is obvious in the passion she displays on her website, in her videos, and in her correspondence.

This curriculum can be used as a stand alone science program in your homeschool, or it can be used as the "hands on" learning piece for an existing curriculum. While it is available for K-12th grade, we mainly used the curriculum to supplement my high schooler's current Chemistry program. Aurora has conveniently linked her lessons to most of the well known, popular curriculums to make it easy to match up what units of study and experiments would go with the current chapter we are studying. (If your curriculum is not listed, she offers to make a conversion chart for you!)

Watch the video for an overview of how the Supercharged Science program can work for homeschoolers!

This website was very overwhelming to me at first, just because of the sheer amount of information that was available. While I was granted access to the entire website for purposes of writing this review, it is my understanding that when a family purchases a subscription, they will be granted partial access, and more units will become available as the student works through them. Although at any time, if someone wishes to jump ahead to a different area of study, all they need to do is ask and non-accessible units will be made available.

Right away, the first thing I did was watch the Introduction video, which teaches how to use the program, and gives you a 'roadmap' of the most effective ways to work through the curriculum. There is literally dozens of pages of resources to 'teach the teacher'. One night I spent quite a while just reading through most of these, gleaning tips to inspire my children in their learning, teaching them HOW to think through a problem, and WHY it's important. All I can say is that it is very obvious that Aurora really cares about children learning science and enjoying it. There is an entire page (that could take you an hour or more to get through) that is devoted to how to use the program, and how to get the most out of it.

Once I got through that, I felt a lot more prepared to actually tackle some assignments! I started off with some of the easy ones on the Getting Started page, just to try things out. The Getting Started page includes 8 short experiments that really get the kids interested in the program, and are easy to do in a short space of time.

Our first experiment: The plasma grape ( this video is taken from Aurora Lipper's video feed on Youtube - while we did attempt to video/take pictures, our fascination with watching the results kept causing us to miss the actual 'moment' with the camera!)

Right across the top of the homepage, there are menu options to navigate the site. One feature I really like is the "shopping lists" that tell you what supplies you'll need for each unit and it's correlating experiments. Most of the experiments can be done with typical household items - there was not a lot of 'specialty' items to purchase. Although when specialty items are required,  the program tries to make it easy by supplying part numbers, etc. so you can easily purchase.

The method Aurora encourages is for the student to first watch the video and whet their appetite for the concept being taught, then allow them to try the experiment for themselves. With a high schooler, there really is minimal parental involvement required, because most of the material is very self-explanatory. Although everything we tried ended up turning into a family affair because it was so interesting.

The program can be used for multiple grade levels, because the same set of experiments and concepts are taught, whether it is to an elementary student or a high school student. The difference is that there is much more reading, listening, and study work involved for the high school level. Most of the science at the high school level also uses more intricate math concepts. While an elementary student may watch the video and the experiment and have an idea what is going on, the high school student can delve much deeper by being able to process and explain scientifically why it is happening that way. I found the program to be easily adaptable up or down - more complex for the high schooler, but also easy to include the younger students.

A typical high school unit of study includes:
~ An introductory video to pique the student's interest in that particular unit and give an overview of what will be learned. 

~ A written lesson plan for the teacher to use in overseeing the student, or for the student to follow. These include vocabulary definitions, and 50+ pages of lesson materials. It allows the teacher to be 'hands-on' with teaching the material.

~ An MP3 audio download of the lesson that is about 45 minutes long.

~ Videos and written material instruction. This is quite lengthy. It can be printed out and read, or read online.

~ Experiments - these are videos in the unit itself, as well as written instructions. The student is supposed to watch the video and then duplicate the experiment in a tactile way.

~There are also practical problems and quizzes that the student can use to round out their studies, as well as reading suggestions for extra study.

There literally is so much material available in each unit. Every experiment has a corresponding video to watch, as well as plenty of explanation of what is happening. Each experiment and posting has an interactive area to type in questions, which are promptly answered by Aurora. If a student doesn't understand a concept, they are never left hanging.

Aurora also has a dedicated weekly call in time to answer science questions regarding any of the material being studied on the website.

The videos seem to be just enough to attract the student's attention, get them interested in the subject, and motivate them to study it more. Most of the videos do not 'give away' all the details. They leave plenty of room for student discovery!

Some pictures of a few of our experiments:

Building a Barrel Roof out of a piece of paper.

One sheet of paper was able to hold up a stack of papers and folders!

Setting a dollar bill on fire....but it won't burn!
Other perks of this program: The website not only includes 20 units of science studies that cover every discipline in the scientific realm, from learning the scientific method, through earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, robotics, electricity, and alternative energy, but it also includes advanced math skills (mathemagic) and an entire selection of science fair projects. Each unit contains over 60 different experiments. The science fair projects are complete, and proven winners. They include a 2 hour long video with a full explanation and outline to help the student prepare an experiment, a display, and a good presentation.

A few things I really liked: I love how adaptable the program is. Anyone can use it, at their own pace and in the way that works best for their family. Also, the program teaches and sticks to science. It does not delve into opinions. There is no mention of creation/evolution, earth age, or other philosophies and theories that would make this program difficult for a Christian to use.

Improvements: Some of the videos we watched could have a better sound or visual quality. There were a few 'housekeeping' items that I was going to mention regarding the website, but the website went through a makeover of sorts during our review period, and most of these were cleaned up and made more visually appealing! It seems like there is always something new or some improvement or upgrade being done on the website, which keeps it fresh, new, and exciting. Also, Aurora is constantly looking for feedback, and implementing ideas that are given.

What we are looking forward to: So far, we have used the program mostly as a supplementation to our regularly scheduled curriculum and daily science lessons. Soon we will be finished with our regular curriculum for the year, and we are looking into really working through some of the e-science units as a sole source of science lessons! There are a few 'heavily involved' projects that we would like to build that need more time than we can give it presently, such as a solar oven and an underwater robotic device.  We are also looking forward to utilizing the online summer science camp that the website offers. I watched a few videos of previous summer science camps, and they are unbelievably cool. I know the girls will really enjoy working through this during the summer when they have less other work and more time to devote to it.

What it costs: A membership costs $37 a month for the K-8 level, and $57 a month for the grades 9-12 level.

System requirements: You will definitely need a strong internet connection and the latest version of your browser. Also, Adobe Reader and Flash Player. All system requirements can be seen here.

This page has a video introduction to the program and describes membership benefits in great detail.

Our opinion?  Supercharged Science really makes learning science interesting and fun!

Want to see what other Crew members thought? Want to see some other pictures of cool experiments that can be found on Supercharged Science? Click the banner below!

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