Online Science: Science4Us.com {Review}

2/25/2014
Science4Us Review


When I started reviewing a Science4Us.com Online Subscription, I had no idea that my kids would become so addicted to it!  Science4Us.com has been a daily request in our home for the past 6 weeks.  And to be honest, I thought it was just an online program at first, but as I dug deeper, I was surprised to discover that it is much more than just an online Science program, and it is more than just Science! 

Science4Us.com is geared for grades K-2, but Malachi, my 3rd grader, reviewed it along with Eliana, my 1st grader, and had just as much fun learning about Science concepts. In fact, children in grades 3-5 can use it as a review of earlier learned concepts.


Price: $7.95/month per child

More About Science4Us.com and Our Experience

My goal was to use the lessons with my children at least 3-4 times per week, and this was very easy to do. In fact, you will see that we used it almost daily during the review period - at my children's request.

The first couple weeks, we spent most of our time online exploring the different Science topics.

Science Topics include:

  • Inquiry {Science Skills & Tools}

  • Physical Science

  • Life Science

  • Earth & Space Science

Since we are studying Astronomy right now, I had both children start by exploring the Space module.  The module has a variety of activities to choose from with titles like Explain, Engage, Explore, and more, including cross curricular activities like Sillybulls, where you unscramble syllables with "Silly Bulls" to practice Science vocabulary! Or put Glossary Words in alphabetical order so they are easier to look up.

Eliana's Experience


After they explored the Space module, I let them choose whatever Science topics interested them. A lot of topics interested them, and they had a lot of fun exploring!

In fact, Eliana logged in 20 times in one month and logged 1732 minutes - almost 29 hours or 1 1/2 hours a day!  She completed 127 activities, of the 182 that she opened, and had 62 items in her notebook. What's nice is that all this information is available when I sign in to my teacher account.

Next, I decided to dive in deep with a lesson on Science Tools to use the teaching tools available to me.

Teaching Tools include:

  • Lesson Plans - details of the module, the amount of time it will take, activities at a glance, description, core concept, vocabulary for each module and more

  • Teaching Strategies - to address your child's learning styles

  • Student Reports - view activities completed, scores on evaluations and student answers, and student notebook entries

  • Assignments - assign full modules or individual activities

  • Notebooks - teach the value of note taking in science, take notes, fill in charts and draw diagrams and share them with student; and students can save and access their own entries and teachers can leave them notes in their entry.

First, I accessed the Lesson Plans. I especially appreciated the details of the module, the activities at a glance, and the offline materials!


From my Teacher Account, I can view my children's progress, notebook, and evaluations.


Offline Materials

The offline materials really bring the subject to life, and are very age appropriate. For example, Eliana is "measuring" by comparing two items and drawing which one is shorter and which one is longer.






Then she is doing more comparisons by measuring various items to determine which ones are short, medium, and long. Then she chose one Science Tool to write about. She chose a ruler.

Her "report" includes naming three ways she can use a ruler.

Then, she did an evaluation where she had to name the function of various Science tools. For example, she circled which tools are used to measure.

The "evaluations" are full of graphics and color to engage my child and test what she knows.


The lesson plan also included a skit to demonstrate what they learned!

Here is a short video clip of a "practice" session. They are still learning their lines, but this is our first practice on video and I think they did great! (I'm giving them cues to help them remember their lines).



This is the first act of their skit. In the second act, they take on the role of the scientists and talk about how they can use a thermometer to see if it is cold enough outside to freeze water into ice. I planned to have them dressed as the narrator and then put on lab coats to be the scientists!

We got sick right after this, so we haven't finished our skit, but I think it will be so fun.

Eliana's Thoughts

I asked Eliana what she thinks of Science4Us, and she said:
"It's fun. I love all the games. I love taking walks (racing Malachi) and listening to music. I like drawing in my notebook. I love how they tell you stories." 

Malachi's Experience

Malachi is actually a grade above the target range, but he really enjoyed and benefited from the lessons.

Malachi says:
"I like it because of how they allow the kids to explore, the fun games, and that I get to have fun while I'm doing my school. I like building funky habitats and making super funny people for the weather game, like putting people in swim trunks in winter weather, hehe.

Golf is my favorite game on Science4Us. I like having golf tournaments with my brother and sister. You not only have to hit the ball the right way, you have to know how much force to hit the ball with to get it in the hole. The more force you have, the farther the ball will go."

Then he told me I had to play! And he's right - it's fun!

Malachi told me that there is a glitch in one of the courses. The light green is uphill and the dark green is supposed to be downhill (as it is in other courses), but in this one the dark green is uphill instead of downhill. So, he used less force thinking it was downhill, but he needed more force to get it uphill. And he needed to complete this course to mark the activity complete and get a star. I enjoyed helping him through this course, and then playing several holes for him.


Speaking of stars, the stars mark that an activity is complete. My kids didn't seem to care one way or another about the stars, but I imagine it would be a motiving factor for some students.

Malachi says,
"I like the 'Let's go for a walk' game in the Motion Map, but not for the walking. I like it so much because it is perfect for racing against my sister (not online, but side by side on two computers). It also shows you how much time it took, and how many steps it took. This is a lesson on motion."

I had him pull up the game so I could see what he was talking about.

In this "walk," we took a walk to The Park, so he could show me how it works, and you can see how our steps and time have been counted. When I let them use my computer so they can both be online, the two kids, sit side by side and "race."

Malachi wrote a list of pros and cons for me to share with you:

Pros:

  • It's online.

  • It has fun games.

  • It teaches me Science.

  • I like the tests because I can see how good I am at Science.

  • I like the stories.

Cons:

  • I don't like the Notebook activities (Eliana liked these).

  • I dont' get to play it enough! (I have to share a computer with my sister).

In one month, Malachi logged 2151 minutes - that's almost 36 hours - over 1 3/4 hours a day. (He doesn't get to play it enough?!) He completed 159 activities out of the 182 that he opened.

My Thoughts

The program is very teacher friendly and I really like that it includes teacher resources, video support, virtual tours, printable material, and more. And the kids really enjoy the program.

What I like:

  • It makes Science fun and interactive.

  • The lessons are informative, colorful, and engaging.

  • The lesson plans are helpful.

  • The offline printable activities are quality.

  • My kids love and ask for Science4Us.com daily, even on non-school days.

What I don't like:

  • I can't log in and see what my child did last session. I have to click on each topic to see if he or she worked in it.

  • I would love a weekly email letting me know what work or modules my child has worked in or completed, time logged for the week, and number of logins.

  • The notebooks are hard to "write" in.

  • There are a few glitches in the game. In one activity that Eliana did, it wouldn't let her complete the activity or record it as being finished. But, this didn't stop my kids from wanting to "play!"

I am ambivalent about the fact that this is a secular science program. It really didn't pose a problem for us, even though we didn't agree with a few things.

Will I continue to use it?

We will until our 6 month subscription is up! But, I am going to start using it as a "reward" for when their other school is done!

But, do you want to know what I think this would be fabulous for? Unit studies!  Science4Us.com has so many topics to choose from that it would be great to use these lessons to tie into unit studies. In fact, as we were exploring, I thought many times how so many of the activities would have tied into our literature based unit studies that we love so much!

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2 comments:

Amy @ Wildflower Ramblings said...

Wow!! What an amazing review!! I can't believe Eliana logged that many hours lol -- great that they see it as an incentive :)

Michelle said...

Thanks, Amy! (Do you see why I need to use it as a "reward?!") :D

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