Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fascinating Education Chemistry {Crew Review}

Update:  Fascinating Education has offered readers of my blog a 50% discount on any of their science courses!  You may use coupon code through 2ZDWL5NHDB December 15, 2015. 

Are you like me:  always wondering if there is another amazing curriculum that is better for your child's learning style that what you've been using? Well, then stay awhile, because I'm going to share some information on a new science program that could really interest those mamas out there who have children who need another way to learn besides with a textbook.

Fascinating Education is one of those programs that might be a great alternative for students who are strong auditory learners or for those who are interested in a more high-tech program. It might also be a good program for those older students who still struggle with reading comprehension.

Created by Dr. Margulies -- a neurologist! -- Fascinating Chemistry (the program I tried out) has two sister courses: Fascinating Biology and Fascinating Physics.  These courses are designed for middle and high school students.   Each course is available for $79.  You can purchase two of the online science courses for $125 (one year access) or all three online curriculum for $175 and two years of access.

What is included in this course: The Chemistry course consists of the visual course in which Dr. Margulies narrates the entire presentation at a comfortable rate of speech; a multi-page script you can download and print off, if that works for you and your student; chemistry experiments (you will need to have a second password to access these) and tests (which are online multi-choice tests and are self-graded or you can download PDFs of the tests).  You will need an online connection to access the course lectures, which are a PowerPoint-type presentation.

How This Worked:  Ben is taking Biology right now, so I was the one who had a chance to review this product. I haven't taken Chemistry since sophomore year in high school, so I was definitely exercising brain cells I hadn't used in a LOOOOOOONG time!

I was surprised that the Chem course wasn't very long -- 18 lessons.  The lessons average 45-ish minutes to complete.  You can access a course outline to see which topics are covered by clicking on the first page of the PDF outline below:

Here's the Chemistry home screen -- where you will access each lesson's components:

What I learned is that -- for myself -- I need to click on the blue "SCRIPT" button, print out the script and read it though before the lesson.  Any vocabulary I underline/ highlight (I think understanding the vocabulary of a course is important, and I do wish each lesson had a vocabulary list)  After that, I can watch the lesson, with my mind primed for the content and explanations.  

Next, it is onto the lessons themselves (red button).  You can access a sample of Fascinating Chemistry from the website. 

After the lesson is a test.  You have two choices -- the online multiple choice assessment or you can print out the exact same test as a PDF/ paper test.  A benefit of the online test is that it is automatically graded.  Here's a sample of a paper test:

I do think that the tests did a good job of identifying the highlights of the lesson, but that doesn't mean I did well on them.  *grin*

In addition all this, 12 labs are dispersed throughout the course.  You'll need a secondary password (provided by the company upon purchase) to access the labs.  Some of the labs are quite extensive (making brass) while others are fairly similar to ones I've done with my younger kids (air pressure, mass of air).  If I was doing this course with my older children, I would use a Sharpie marker and black out the lines that tell students what they should see by doing the experiment.  I like to preserve a little mystery and wonder around the experiments and don't always want my students to know what the end result should be (at least not right away!).

I also wish there was a lab supply list available.  I know that Fascinating Education has just re-done their labs, so I'm hopeful that a supply list can be made available soon to help teachers plan for experiments. It was good to see that most (if not all) supplies could easily be found at home or a store -- minus a couple supplies that could be picked up at any online homeschool supplier or Amazon.

One of the things that surprised me with this program is that each lesson is PACKED full of information.  I began the program thinking that one lesson was meant to be done in one sitting. Not for this old brain, lol! Although Dr. Margulies does an excellent job of narrating the information in a manner that is just right in terms of speed and comprehensible style, it is still a packed course and I wouldn't be comfortable that my student was actually learning and retaining information in one sitting.  I would definitely make a plan that each lesson be worked out over several days -- to facilitate retention of the information. Also, I would want my student to interact with the material in some other way -- working on some application questions to help my student digest and think about the information.  

Credits:  So, could this course count as a high school Chemistry credit?  According to the FAQs, the content in the course is similar to that found in other high schools Chem classes.  However, in terms of the amount of material (plus labs), it doesn't seem to add up to the approximate 120-150 hours of coursework necessary for full year Chemistry class.  It seems to me that additional resources would need to be added to this class in order for me to feel confident that my student was doing work worthy of a high school course.  

To see what others thought of this course plus the Biology and Physics classes, click the link below.

Click to read Crew Reviews

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