When I was given the opportunity to review the e-science program from Supercharged Science, I was both excited, and nervous. I have NEVER really been much of a “science geek”, and so I’ve always wondered if I was short-changing my kids in some way, or even creating a science phobia in them.
With e science, Aurora Lipper has created a fun, exciting way to get kids (and their science phobic moms!) right in there actually DOING science! 🙂 When I told my kids about Aurora, especially when I told them she was a “real” rocket scientist, they all exclaimed “Just like Mrs. J.”! (Mrs. J. just so happens to be my very best friend, and did, in fact, work as a rocket scientist. :-)) But, I digress . . .
Back to Aurora, who has worked at NASA, taught mechanical engineering at Cal Poly, flew airplanes, launched rockets, and help design engines for a very special F-15.
While teaching at the university, Aurora came to realize how bored the students appeared to be, and decided to look at how science was being taught to kids. At that point, she thought that if she were being taught that way, she would be bored, too, and eventually, Supercharged Science was the company she created, in order to get e-science out there and make science FUN!
The first thing I did, when I received my log in information, was to go on the site and just start exploring. This would be when I REALLY began to get nervous! There is SO much content, it was really hard to decide where to begin. Of course, I wanted to begin with something basic, so since my kids and I have never really done much formal science, we began with learning the scientific method.
After that, my kids really, really wanted to do an experiment, so we decided we were now confident enough to move on to the “scientific method experiment” section of the web site. Here, we found a very cool experiment called “Underwater Presidents“. The idea is to use the scientific method in this (and every experiment), to do the following:
1. Observe: look at the penny. How big is it? is it clean, dirty, in between? is it heads or tails? Basically, we wrote down in our notebook the size of the penny (yes, we actually measured the diameter, LOL), we wrote that it was relatively clean, and that we were using it heads up.
2. Make our hypothesis: here, we each made a guess as to how many drops of water we could put on the penny, before it would overflow. Our guesses were, “The Batman” – 20, “The Artist” – 35, “Mr. Loquacious” – 24, “The Puzzler” – 15, and Mom – 10.
3. Conduct our test (experiment): we each had a turn with the medicine dropper, to see how many drops we could put on the penny before it would overflow.
4. Collect our data: we kept careful count, drop by drop, on each person’s turn, writing them down beside each person’s name. Then, we added all the totals together, and divided that number by five (because that’s how many tests we did) to arrive at our average amount of drops on the penny before it overflowed.
5. Report the results: Here is where we wrote in our notebook what happened. In test 1, I had my turn, and got 18 drops on the penny before it overflowed. In test 2, “The Artist” beat me out by getting 33 drops to stay on the penny. “The Batman” did test 3, and he managed to get 29 drops to stay put. “Mr. Loquacious” got 18 drops in test 4, and “The Puzzler” got 25 drops in test 5. We added them together, for a total of 123 drops, and then divided that by five, the number of tests we conducted. Our average came out to 24.6 drops which stayed on the penny before the next drop would overflow.
“The Puzzler . . . conducting his Underwater Presidents test . . .
Here is “Mr. Loquacious”, doing his test . . .
“The Batman” is putting drops of water onto his penny . . .
And finally, “The Artist” is seeing how many HE can get on there!
OK, so now, we were getting a little more confident, and my kids were wanting to get moving on to “more real experiments, Mom”! So, it was time to decide what unit we were going to work in.
After looking over the abundance of topics provided, we chose to go with Unit 3, which is “Matter”. I’m going to be quite honest here, and admit to you that the primary reason I chose this unit for us to begin with is that we already had about half of the required materials in our house, and the remaining supplies were extremely easy to find with one quick stop at Wal-Mart. In fact, if I had more time the day I went out, I probably could have gotten many of the supplies at the dollar store. The other reason for my choice was simply this, it all looked so interesting, and when I was reading to them what kinds of things we would be doing, my kids thought it was a cool unit to go with, as well.
Here are just SOME of the cool experiments that we did in this unit (we will be completing as many of the remainder as we can get the supplies for, as we find time to fit them in around other studies):
We made a density jar . . .
We turned this:
into this . . .
We created a penny crystal structure . . .
And we grew some laundry soap crystals!
We also made plasma gas. I was not able to get a good video of OUR experiment, so here is one of Aurora doing it . . .
As you can see, we found so much to keep us interested in science! We will continue using e-science on the Supercharged Science web site for the next year, and I can see already that just doing this we will learn so much!
As a reviewer, I was given access to everything all at once, specifically so that we could choose which portion we would use during the review period. When you subscribe to e science, you will receive immediate access to the first seven units, along with units such as “The Scientific Method“. Each month after that, you’ll get one or two more units, but if there is a unit you want that hasn’t yet been opened to you, all you need to do is send an email requesting it, because Aurora wants you to be able to follow your interests, or to be able to use a unit which goes along with what you are currently studying.
This program is great for homeschooling families, particularly if you have multiple children.
If you go here, and scroll down, you will see another chart giving you a comparison of e-science to 13 home school curriculum providers that charge more, and still don’t include everything the e-science program gives you.
If this is important to you, e-science aligns with most state standards.
One thing that is important to me is whether or not a science curriculum covers evolution. As a Christian, I prefer that it not. From the website . . .
“The e-science program does not cover creation or evolution so all families may participate with our program. We focus on how to build the robot, take data and measurements, work a microscope, launch the rocket, why a laser works…basically sticking to the physics of what’s going on and how to build the projects. Of course, you can always add to it in any way you see fit. Our curriculum is fully compatible with any religious perspective and has been used by thousands of Christian, secular, and others”.
The only down-side I can see is the price. I think it’s a wonderful program, and I hope my family can continue to use it after our review membership is over, but I think many homeschooling families will be priced out of using e-science. Most homeschooling families are one income families, and on pretty tight budgets. It would be nice if a substantial discount were offered for paying a whole year at once.
We reviewed the K – 8 section of e-science. The e-Science K-8 Membership (Standard) is available for $37.00 per month. If you would prefer to go with the e-Science 9-12 & Advanced 5-8 grade plus K-8 Membership (Premium), you can get that for $57.00 per month. You can try it for one month, with a full money-back guarantee.
There is a free sample offered for you on the Supercharged Science website.
Overall, I think this is an awesome program, and Aurora Lipper does a fantastic job of getting kids AND parents involved and excited about what they are doing.