3/18/2010

R.E.A.L Science Odyssey: Chemistry

Dylan (my 9 year old) has been asking me if we can do Chemistry all school year, but I had not found a program that I really wanted to use, until I had the opportunity to review R.E.A.L Science Odyssey: Chemistry by Pandia Press. R.E.A.L stands for Read, Explore, Absorb, Learn and I think the title fits this series perfectly! First I will tell you a little about it, share our experience, and then tell you what I love about this program.

Topics in this series:
  • What is Chemistry?
  • Atoms
  • The Periodic Table of Elements
  • Molecules
  • Matter
  • Chemical Reactions
Each lesson begins with a fun story like format that introduces the concept in a very kid-friendly way. The story is then followed by hands on lab activities that reinforce that concept.

Our Experience:

I used this program with Nathan and Dylan and we completed Units 1 and 2 of Level 1 for this review. Level 1 is geared towards 2nd-5th grade. My boys are 4th and 5th grade so they fit right at the end of the target age range perfectly.

Unit 1:

The first unit began with a poem called "I Am a Chemist" followed by a lesson introduction: "What Is Chemistry?"

At the beginning of the book, it lists all the main points of each lesson by dividing them into "Big Ideas" and "Small Stuff." You are instructed to focus on the "Big Idea" and not sweat the "small stuff" - it's just bonus material. (I liked that.)

The "Big Idea" for this lesson is that:
  1. All things are made of chemicals
  2. Chemistry is the science that studies chemicals
  3. A chemist is a person who studies how chemicals interact
  4. A hypothesis is your best guess about the outcome of an experiment.

We completed 2 labs in this section: #1 Be A Chemical Detective and #2 Telling Things Apart. The lesson concluded with a crossword puzzle covering the vocabulary words.

Unit 2:

The second unit, "Starting Small," began with a little song called "The Atom Song" followed by a lesson on the atom. The lesson readings are very conversational in style are designed to be read aloud to your child.

We then completed Lab #1: "Are Atoms Small?" We scented balloons and tested to see which ones we could smell. During Lab #2: "Do Atoms Move," we saw that atoms move very slowly in cold water, but quickly in hot water.

The "Big Idea" for this section is:
  1. Atoms are extremely small.
  2. Everything is made of atoms.
  3. Atoms move.

We then read another poem and lesson on the parts of an atom and colored a "Parts of an Atom" page.
We also completed a Parts Lab called "Let's Be Positive" ~ a hair raising experiment!
(There is no helium in that ballon!)
The "Big Idea" for this section is:
  1. The three parts of an atom are protons, neutrons, and electrons.
  2. Protons and neutrons are found in the nucleus.
  3. Electrons are found orbiting the nucleus in energy levels.
  4. All protons, neutrons, and electrons are like every other proton, neutron, and electron.
In the next lesson, we read about the different types of atoms and did a project called "The First Ten." We learned about the first ten elements of the Periodic Table using play dough (instead of marshmallows) and made models of each element.
Red = Protons
Blue = Neutrons
Green = Electrons
They had to place the protons and neutrons in the nucleus and the electrons in their energy levels.
They were given the information for the first two elements, but after the 2nd one, they had to fill in the missing amount of protons and electrons. This was a wonderful way of instilling in them how the Periodic Table is organized. Each element has one more proton and electron than the previous one.
(Nathan and Dylan worked together on this, but Nathan did not want his picture taken. Can you tell Dylan was a willing subject instead?)
After this, they had to go back through their models and place the correct number of electrons in the energy levels and then compare the weight of each element.

To wrap up this unit, they completed a crossword puzzle.

The "Big Idea" for this lesson is:
  1. Each type of atom has a unique name.
  2. The thing that makes one type of atom different from another type of atom is the number of protons that the atom has in its nucleus.
  3. The number of electrons a neutral atom is the same number as the number of protons in its nucleus.
  4. An element is a group of the same type of atoms.

My boys are really enjoying this curriculum!

What I like about it:
  • Sequential; each lesson builds on the previous lesson.
  • Topics are presented in an engaging manner.
  • Vocabulary is worded so that it is easily understood by the student.
  • Lots of hands on activities that reinforce the concept being taught are included.
  • Introduces the scientific method in a gentle, easy to understand way.
  • Teacher instructions and student pages are in one book.
  • Read aloud prompts make the material easy to present.
  • Student pages are easily identified and easy to print.
  • It has a notebooking style format.
  • Each unit contains a poem and crossword puzzle to reinforce key concepts and vocabulary.
  • A unit outline tells you what the "Big Idea" and what the "Small Stuff" is.
  • Includes reading and website suggestions for each unit.
I really could not think of anything that I do not like about it! Even though I love color and graphics, it did not bother me that this is in black and white.

This 431 page book comes ready for your 1 to 1 1/2 inch 3-ring binder (mine fit in a 1 inch binder but it was tight) and is intended to be a full year curriculum. A suggested weekly schedule for teaching this over 36 weeks, 2 days a week is included.

Price:

The print version is available at Rainbow Resource for $38.50 (retails for $48.00) or as a download directly from Pandia Press for $38.99.

There are several samples available on the website: "Atom" student page, Student "State of Confusion" notebook page, "Atomic Numbers" lab instruction sheet. And you can see the complete Table of Contents and Supply List to see more of what this book entails.

Other science products in this series include: Life Science and Earth and Space. A level 2 is expected to come out this year. Pandia also has a history series called History Odyssey (other Crew mates are reviewing this).

I am happy to find a program that works for us . . . and happy that I don't have to hear the words, "When are we going to do Chemistry?" anymore!

I received this product for the purpose of this review and no further compensation was received. I offer my honest opinion. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

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