Tag Archives: Homeschooling Science

Digital Science Online: Visual Learning Systems (My Review)

My four boys and I have been having lots of fun using Visual Learning Systems as a group for a little over a month. We received a subscription to both the Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5) and the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12)

The Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition (Grades K-5), is divided into two sections. One is primary, which would be the grade K through 2 collection. This included well over 50 units of study, contained within the following subjects: physical, earth, life, and health. This is a great section if your children are in that age/grade range, there are tons of beautiful videos, animations, photos, and activity sheets, etc.

WE did not use this section, because my kids were beyond it, for the most part, but I really wanted you to know that it is there, and that it’s GOOD.

We HAVE been using the elementary a lot, because, frankly, I thought it was the best way for us to work as a group, something which many of my readers know that we enjoy doing. The elementary section of Digital Science Online has subjects like physical, earth, and life, with subtopics or units within them. As with the Primary section, there are lovely, well made videos, animations, photos, worksheets, and hands on activities in some areas. It’s meant for grades 3 through 5.

We have, for the most part, enjoyed this, except for having to crowd around one computer (something I will also address a little later). It was very impressive how, when we would choose a subject, there would then be a list of sub-topics within that subject, effectively giving us a unit study, already all organized for us! The reason I like this aspect so much is that all four of my boys really, really enjoy watching science and nature programs on television. The problem with that though, is it’s hard to put together a group of programs at the same time which would work together as a topical unit.

Eventually, though, with the exception of “The Puzzler”, the boys really wanted to have a go at the higher level, which I’ll talk about in a bit, because truthfully, I thought only “The Artist” would be able to handle the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12).

How wrong I was!

As I mentioned back at the beginning of this review, we were also given access to the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition (Grades 6-12).

The Secondary Edition has considerably more units of study, with a great number of sub-topics. My kids liked the longer videos, which, once again, I must complement. They are quite beautiful.

I have asked them to stay away from some sections of the biology units, after they pointed them out and said they didn’t think they should look at them. I was very proud of them for this actually, as it shows they have been listening to us and to their teachers at church when we discuss what is or is not appropriate for them.

There are also areas in which evolution is used as a given, where we believe, and teach, from a Creation world view. It was very interesting, however, to listen to everyone of our boys, at different times while watching different sections, saying things like “That’s not true, there’s no millions of years” or “Evolution isn’t real, we know that”. 🙂

The Secondary Edition also has worksheets and such, but these are really beyond any of my boys other than “The Artist”. I DO find that “The Batman” and “Mr. Loquacious” can do a lot of them orally, though.

AS I told you above, I really thought it would be better to use this program as a group, because as often as possible, I prefer it when we can do that. This DID work, for a while, but lo and behold, just today, they asked me two questions:

Will this work on our tablets?
Can we do it separately so we can choose our own topics?

Well, guess what, it works on the tablets! I hadn’t even tried, because I’m used to things like this being mostly for iPads, which we do not have. WE have Android Tablets. SO, I told them I would try it on mine first to check, and if so, we’d see if it would work on theirs. It did! 🙂 Since I had never actually set up separate student accounts because *I* wanted this to be a group learning thing I thought my kids would love to do this together, I chose to call customer support, given that I had forgotten how to set up separate log ins. Guess what found out? Well, while yes, I CAN do that, I don’t HAVE to! They can all log in using the information I used for the one log in, and they can all do it at the same time, on their own tablets or a computer. YAY! The customer service is wonderful. The first person I spoke with was named Louise, and the second was Emily, because they handle different aspects within the company.

One of the reasons I was so pleased to discover that this could be used on their tablets, all at the same time, and that they could be doing different subjects at the same time, as well, is that now, we don’t have to have a “discussion” about what we will learn about “today”. Being able to use the tablets in this way is a definite plus as well for the family who travels, because their children will be able to take this beautiful program along, and learn science their way. It would be great if you’re staying somewhere with provided wifi, and much better than spending all your in room time just watching television.

ALL in all, we really, really like this program. I even had one child come back inside from playing to ask if he could do some more science on his tablet! What better rating is there than that, right?

Want to see what my fellow Crew members think of Digital SCience Online? Just click on the banner right below!

Visual Learning Systems Review

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Learning About The Partial Solar Eclipse . . .

So, last week there was a partial solar eclipse, which was visible here in NM. When I showed my kids how easily we could make a pinhole projector, they were totally on board!

Here is our pinhole projector!
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We went outside at about 3:40 our time, and watched it for a while, and then went back out close to 4:30, which we’d been told on the news would be peak time.

We tried doing it with the blank card stock on the ground, but it wasn’t working very well . . .

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So we ended up having one child hold the pinhole projector, and another hold the blank card stock. They took turns, so that everyone who wanted to, got a chance to do both, and everyone got a chance to just look, as well.

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Their dad got home from work while we were still outside and decided to get in on the action, too!
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Here is a short video of the action for your enjoyment!

addendum: I totally forgot to mention that one of the boys next door got off the school bus (arms full of books and homework) as we were doing this, and stopped to see what we were doing. he thought it was pretty cool, as did the lady on the other side of our house, who was leaving to go somewhere, but wandered over first to see. Homeschooling rocks! 🙂

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Filed under Homeschool Science, Kids, NM, Partial Solar Eclipse

Amazing Science, Volume 1 . . . A T.O.S. Review

Anyone who knows me well, KNOWS I am simply NOT good at science (right, Charlene? lol!) So, when I saw that this particular review of Amazing Science, Volume 1 would have SIMPLE experiments, explained by the instructor, Jason Gibson, in a way that even *I* could understand (never mind the children), I decided to go for it!

Jason Gibson has earned advanced degrees in Engineering and Physics, has worked as a Rocket Scientist for NASA, and loves teaching Science and Math (don’t even get me going on how much I have always hated Math, lol!).

The product we received for review is, as I said above, Amazing Science, Volume 1, which comes from ScienceandMath.com.

It comes in one DVD case, which holds two separate DVD’s. On those two DVD’s, we found 23 different science experiments to watch, learn about, and actually do, in very little time, as long as we had the needed materials around the house.

For this review, I am going to focus in on the Color Changing Milk experiment, because all of the boys thought it was cool! I heard plenty of “oooohhh’s” even from the one kid (“that would be “The Batman”) who was complaining about watching when he wanted to play a video game, lol!

Here, we see the instructor on our TV screen, talking about one of the experiments, and explaining the science behind it.
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All four boys, watching with definite interest, while Mr. Gibson explains what he is doing, and why.
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The Color Changing Milk experiment, which was absolutely the top vote getter for which one to put on this blog post, was a hit. All four boys really loved how it came out! Here are some pictures of the process while getting things ready to go.
This is me, getting things started . . .
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Now, we add the four food colors into the milk.
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We honestly thought it might not work, because the only food coloring we had was the gel kind, and Mr. Gibson was using the liquid sort, however, if you will watch the video below, you’ll see how well it worked!

You can see how much fun they had, right? 🙂

Here is how our plate of milk looked when they had really finished up as much as possible.
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At this point, all of the fat in the milk had clung to the dish soap, so the only way to do it again would be to start over with a new batch. So, we have learned how it is that the soap works better than just water when we wash our hands or our dishes, especially if we are trying to wash off something with fat in it.

Here is “Mr. Loquacious”, rinsing the plate off with cold water, but all of the boys loved what he discovered when he dumped the milk into the sink, BEFORE he actually began rinsing it . . .
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Here are some samples provided on the company’s website for the following experiments . . .

“Balloon in a Candle Flame”

“Amazing Magnetic Force” . . .

And if you go to Amazing Science, Volume 1, you will find links to a couple of other samples, as well as the complete DVD chapter index of all that you will get on this set of DVD’s.

Amazing Science, Volume 1 is available as a DVD set for the cost of $ 17.95 (a discount off of the retail price of $24.95), and as a digital download for $14.99. I do think this product is at a very good price point for what you get!

I am supposed to tell you that the intended age range for this product is grades 1 through 3, but let me just tell you, every single one of my boys love it, and so do I. And I am WELL past grade 1 – 3, lol! In fact, there would literally be only one thing that I don’t care for about this package. I wish the company would make a little mini booklet to insert into the DVD case, sort of like the liner notes that you see in music DVD’s, listing the materials needed for each experiment. That would make it much easier to collect the materials needed BEFORE watching the DVD. My kids wanted to do some things for which I really did not have the materials on hand (like copper pipe, a bicycle tire pump, etc), but we did have materials on hand for a few things.

This DVD set would be wonderful for any homeschooling family, but I think it would also be great as a supplement for students who are in public or private school. In short, it’s great for anyone!

I also want to acknowledge my husband Mike, who took all of the pictures, and the video as well, while working on learning to use his new camera. Didn’t he do a great job? 🙂

If you’d like to read what other crewmates thought of Amazing Science, Volume 1 and other products (Mastering 5th Grade Math – Volume 1 – Essentials of Fractions, Algebra 1: Volume 1, & Fractions Thru Algebra Companion Worksheet CD) from ScienceandMath.com, please click the graphic below . . .
ScienceandMath.com Review
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Filed under Amazing Science! Volume 1, education, home education, homeschool products, Homeschool Science, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post