Review Crew: Supercharged Science

I never liked science in school………I’m just being honest.  But I don’t want that same experience for my kids.  
Well, we’ve had the opportunity to review a new science program and I’m not sure who learned more- me or them!  We reviewed Supercharged Science!

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What is it?
Supercharged Science is a complete science curriculum called e-Science.  The program was designed by Aurora Lipper who has degrees in engineering and math and who worked with NASA as a rocket scientist.  While Aurora was teaching college science classes, she wondered why students were not excited to learn science topics.  As she observed how students below college level were being taught science, she understood how science could become boring.  She decided to create science classes for students below the university level.  Aurora hopes to inspire students through meaningful science lessons and hands-on science projects and experiments.

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What does in include?
Supercharged Science is a completely online curriculum.  You can sign up for a membership for K-8 students at $37 per month and for highschool students at $57 per month.

A membership gives you access to the online lessons which are divided into topical units.  Within each unit there is an introduction, the lesson material, experiments with explanation, and videos of all the experiments for demonstration.  Some lessons also include links to an MP3 file of a recording of a teleclass that Aurora did previously on that topic.

The lesson material is written to the student and gives the explanation of the concept as well as vocabulary words.  The experiment section contains a list of supplies, detailed explanation and step-by-step instructions, as well as a pictorial example.  There is also a video demonstration of each experiment for reference.

You have the ability to view all topics on the website by clicking on each section or you can print off each unit as a PDF file which contains all the lesson and experiment information.

There are 19 units of science currently included with unit 20 – Earth Science – coming soon.  There is also an extra section about the scientific method.  The units include:

  • Mechanics
  • Motion
  • Matter
  • Energy
  • Electricity
  • Magnetism
  • Life Science
  • Biology

There is also a section that provides ideas and experiments for science fair projects as well as an introductory section with an explanation of the scientific method.

How did we use the program?
We had access to the K-8 materials.  I reviewed the website and videos before we started the program.  I skimmed through the material to try to select topics that I thought would be the most interesting and easily understandable concepts for my kids.

I started by reading the background information myself and reading through the experiment instructions.

The first thing we would do was watch the experiment videos.  All the kids enjoyed watching these and were very interested in seeing some of them more than once.  After the videos, I would work with Curly individually and we would go through the material in the lessons.  I would introduce important vocabulary and then read through the explanations and background information.  I often paraphrased the lessons, leaving out some of the more complicated ideas and trying to stick to the simplest concepts.

I will say that we didn’t do just a ton of the experiments.  We spent more of our time watching them, than doing them.  (That might have something to do with having a baby and a toddler in our house…).  We worked on science 3-4 times during our week and then spent some afternoons on the weekend watching some more videos or trying out a few experiments.  I usually needed Dad around to lend a hand.  He was happy to help and he even enjoyed our science time.

We spent most of our time in the unit regarding the scientific method (and then the unit on mechanics) since we’ve never covered that topic before.  We could easily spend a month or more in each unit.  My kids were interested in watching the videos multiple times and we had to process the information very slowly because there is a lot there!

What didn’t we like?
The units are organized by topic so it is easy to select your topic of interest.  However, since I’m not a science person (and I only vaguely remember my science  classes) I wasn’t exactly sure which topics would be best to use with my young crowd.  I spent some time skimming the material and trying to select the units that I thought would be best understood by Curly.  I would love to see the topics organized by order of difficulty or grouped by grade so I could quickly choose the concepts to use with my kids.  *According to the site, this feature is coming soon and I’m excited because that is exactly what I need to get the most out of this curriculum!* 

This curriculum is designed to work well for a wide variety of ages from young elementary all the way up through highschool.  Therefore, some material is best left for older ages so you will need to choose what is most appropriate for your student.  Some of the explanations and experiments were a little difficult for my kids to understand so we just choose the ones I thought were best suited to our ages.  If you use this curriculum, you need to be comfortable tailoring it to your needs and the ages and interests of your kids.

The website does not have a set schedule or pacing.  You can move at your own pace so you will need to use it on your schedule or create your own schedule.

I would love a short booklist to go along with each unit that gave some ideas for outside resources for the younger crowd.  My kids love to read and I would love some great science books and biographies on their level to go along with each unit.  

What did we like?
Really……everything!  Let me try to explain-

There are so many interesting topics!  Wow!  It’s so hard to choose one.  You can find something to interest every child.  The site has such great variety!

The experiments are doable and they work.  They have great explanations and there are so many experiment options for each topic.  You can choose just one or do them all if your student is very interested in that topic.

The explanations are very well done.  Some parts of the explanations were over my kids’ heads but most of the material was very accessible and explained very clearly.

The program could be done independently by an older child.  With the clear explanations and experiment videos as a guide, an older student could work through the lessons on his own.

The program is very flexible.  You can choose the topic of interest and spend a week or more than a month on that topic.

And my favorite part of the program????  Experiment videos with explanation!!  Yes, yes!  I didn’t have to do all the experiments.  If I was unsure how to execute an experiment, I just watched the video until I felt confident.  And if I didn’t have the supplies on hand, we could just watch someone else do it (knowing that they would also have to clean up their mess).

What did we think overall?
Love it!  Really, it’s such fun!  The program is detailed, yet very understandable even by someone like me who is not strong in science.  The experiments are meaningful, interesting, and doable.  There are so many experiment options that you have endless choices.  It’s a very amazing resource.

With that said, I think it would be best for our family when my little people are a little older.  It’s hard to get to science experiments with littles trying to get into everything.  I also thought the program would be more meaningful if Curly had a general background in some of the simple concepts as well as a larger science vocabulary.

I plan to continue using this program at our very slow pace.  However, I plan to revisit it again when my kids are a little older and when they’ve had a background in some general science topics.  I think they will get the most out of this curriculum that way.  Also, I’d like them to be able to perform some of the experiments more independently.  So, I plan to look at this again mid-elementary or in late elementary.  This curriculum is on my wish list for later! 


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