4/09/2014

Supercharged Science {Review}

Supercharged eScience Review
Supercharged Science is an amazing eScience Online Learning Program for all grade levels (K-12). I reviewed the e-Science Premium Membership with several of my children.

To share what this program is all about, I am going to dive right in with our experience and share as I go!

Where do I start?!

Supercharged Science is so amazingly full of content - over 900 experiments in all! It was overwhelming at first.


For starters, watching the "Getting Started" video was a great help!

Navigating the Site

Simply:

  1. Sign in

  2. Click "Topics" or "Grade Levels" (It is recommended that you start with a Grade Level, and then switch over to Topics if your child has more interest and wants to dig deeper).

  3. If selecting by Topic, watch a video to get an overview of the unit, and then click on a lesson to start. In each lesson, you watch a video, learn the concepts covered, and then choose an experiment.

  4. If selecting by Grade Level, select a topic from the list, and choose a lesson, read about the concepts that will be covered, and then choose an experiment.

It was hard to choose one topic to start with because there was so much I wanted to do. It is all very interesting. But, when I started planning for unit studies, it changed the way I used the site. I grew more and more excited thinking of all the cool science I could do with my kids to tie into our History and literature studies. The site suddenly became less overwhelming and more exciting by the click!

I found a catapult to enhance our study of Medieval times. I was at a lost to find more projects for the Middle Ages, and being that I'm no rocket-scientist (and Aurora, the creator of Supercharged Science is!), I emailed asking for suggestions for topics to enrich our studies. She suggested the catapult and a trebuchet, and any of the early physical science experiments involving friction, levers and gravity. . . stuff that Galileo worked on, which are in e-Science in Units 1 and 2 and also Energy units 4 and 5. I found lots of great experiments, and exploring in these units led me to so many more cool projects.

We explored levers and Inclined Planes, and found a Hydraulic Pneumatic Earth Mover that looks really cool.

We finally settled on making the beginner and advanced catapult experiments to start.

I printed a materials list and student sheets, which includes the materials needed, step by step directions for the beginner catapult, and observation questions.


And by experiment, I mean experiment - not just a demonstration. Aurora gives many suggestions on how to make this into a real experiment, such as varying the length of the catapult arm to see if it flies farther.

Malachi and Eliana were able to build the simple catapult from watching the video, with very little help from me.




Then we used the video alone to build the advanced catapult (printable instructions were not available for this one). This one required a little more help from me, but they did most of it on their own. I simply paused the video and helped them along the way, by showing them how I was making mine.

Our finished catapults:




The ammo in the advanced catapults really flew and soon more ammo was needed!

We experimented by finding the best distance to shoot the balls into a cardboard castle. So fun!

Then I typed in yeast, since it ties into our story, to take our science in a different direction. I found Bread Science, which was a lesson on not only how to make bread, but the science behind bread making. This led to a Fun with Yeast experiment in Yeast, Molds and More!  Then we watched a video on Molecules to learn why baking soda and vinegar bubble and why yeast raises bread. We learned about atoms, molecules, the periodic table, and. . . farts (methane gas)! haha! This video had Malachi, my 3rd grader giggling and wanting to learn more. We also watched Hidden Carbon Dioxide, in which we learned how to find carbon dioxide in common household materials, and then how to make carbon dioxide gas and weigh it to see if it weighs more than air. I didn't know that you could pour or weigh carbon dioxide!

We then watched a video of an experiment called "Can Fish Drown," in which air is separated from water in a test tube. And Malachi watched How to Turn Copper into Silver or Gold.

It was very easy to go off on tangents!

Next, I pulled out the literature studies I have coming up, and set out on a search to find some cool science to go along.

First up, was a book about a girl that lives on a mountain. I had "high altitudes" and "road building" on my list of science topics to pursue. I typed "altitude" in the search bar and pulled up a lesson on Barometers. From this page, I can click over to more physics experiments and videos. This site has lots of potential to wander off on tangents, which can be ideal to encourage child led interest.

The same lesson can also be found by searching by topic in Earth Science, then clicking on Unit 20: Lesson 1: Atmosphere. Topics are arranged by topic, and not grade level, so I have a variety of experiments to choose from that may or may not be age appropriate. So, I prefer to explore by Grade Level. However, this program would be ideal to use by topic if you are teaching multiple grade levels, and have the older students teach the younger for whole family learning, or to dig deeper as suggested.

Topics Include:

  • Unit Zero: Overview of e-Science: Covers 18 key scientific principles

  • Scientific Method - Tips and Tricks on how to work like a real scientist.

  • Unit 1: Mechanics - Force, Motion, Gravity

  • Unit 2: Motion - Velocity and Acceleration -  with Newton's laws.

  • Unit 3: Matter - Atoms, Density, Solids

  • Unit 4: Energy 1 - Pulleys and Levers

  • Unit 5: Energy 2 - Potential and Kinetic Energy

  • Unit 6: Sound - Vibrations and Resonance

  • Unit 7: Astrophysics - Astronomy, Particle Physics, and Relativity

  • Unit 8: Chemistry 1 - Molecules, Atoms, and Chemical Kinetics

  • Unit 9: Light -Lightwaves, Photons, and Lasers

  • Unit 10: Electricity - Circuits and Robotics

  • Unit 11: Magnetism - Permanent Magnets and Electromagnets

  • Unit 12: Alternative Energy - Solar Cells, Wind Power and Fuel Cells

  • Unit 13: Thermodynamics - Temperature and Heat

  • Unit 14: Electronics - Breadboards, PCB's, Analog and Digital Circuits

  • Unit 15: Chemistry 2 - Reactions, Bonds, Redox, Acids and Bases, Nuclear

  • Unit 16: Life Science 1 - Living Organisms, Cells, Genetics, Microscopes

  • Unit 17: Life Science 2 - Prokaryotes, Plants, Protists, & Fungi

  • Unit 18: Biology 1 - Invertebrates, Fishes, Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, & Mammals

  • Unit 19: Biology 2 - Skin, Bones, Muscles, Cardiovascular

  • Unit 20: Earth Science - Geology, Mineralogy, & Planetary

  • Award Winning Science Fair Projects

  • and more!

If you search by grade level, you will see that not every topic is available for advanced students (9th grade and up), but the experiments and projects available teach real science.

During our review of Supercharged Science, my 15 year old chose an advanced project from the Award Winning Science Fair Projects: The Underwater R.O.V. Project. In this project, he built a Remote Operating Vehicle (R.O.V.) Robot that is submersible, runs on a 12V power source, is remotely operated and built entirely by himself! I never could have provided him with this opportunity without Supercharged Science.

However, it was a little stressful at times, in part due to living in a small town, and in part due to the materials lists I printed. I printed 2 materials lists: one was a list of all the parts, and the second one was a list of parts organized by department (to make shopping easier). However, when I got to Home Depot to buy pipe for the frame, the lists were different! Specifically, the length of pipe needed were different. Not wanting to buy a PVC pipe cutter, I had the pipe cut to the lengths on BOTH lists. That was frustrating enough, but when we got to the video, it asked him to use a length that was not on either of the lists, LOL. Furthermore, I had ALL of the materials, supplies, and tools that we would need ready to go before we started, and the video again used materials or tools that were not on the list. I imagine they are easily interchangeable, but it was confusing at first.

This was the only frustrating experience we had with the project, other than trying to find all the parts. I bought the parts I could find locally from Radio Shack and Home Depot, ordered parts online from Amazon and Radio Shack, and spent $100 to do this project. The props I ordered took 4 weeks to get here, and because they took so long to get, he is not done with the project. He has completed the building of the project, but is still working on the science fair part of the project.

I would love to share photos of the process to show how involved this project is, how much my son learned, and how cool it is!

Here are all of the supplies I gathered (minus the soldering gun that I borrowed from my oldest son).




It took Nathan a span of 2 weeks to build the R.O.V. working on it an hour or two a day about 4 days a week.

Building the frame. . .



Drilling holes so the frame will take on a little water. . .



Assembling the motor thrusters. . .




Nathan learned about electricity, wiring, soldering, and more. The video walks him through the project step-by-step.

His frame, ready for the thrusters.


He is done wiring, soldering the electrical parts, and adding silicone to waterproof the thrusters, and is now putting them in their housing case (film canisters).



He first placed vaseline around the tip of the motors so they will spin, and then added silicone before placing the motor in the canister, covering it with more silicone, and letting it dry overnight.

Once they were dry, he placed the caps on and fixed them to the frame, thus completing the assembly of the frame.


Now, he is assembling the control box. . .



And the power cord. . .


We needed a set of gator clips at this point (not on the list) to connect this to a 12V power source (we are using a battery charger). The next day, he connected the power cord to gator clips to attach the cord to the the negative and positive ends of the battery charger.

He tested the motors and two out of three worked at this point. They all worked before he wired the control box, so a wire may have slipped off inside the box. After rewiring that, he is ready to test!





With all the electrical wires and raw power supply, I was a little nervous to throw this in the water! But, it works!



His original hypothesis was to angle the thrusters to see which angle gives the best maneuverability and speed. However, he screwed them in as the video suggested, so they were not adjustable. He can remove them and zip tie them on if he wants (an idea from Aurora), or he can experiment with other variables. His thrusters were originally angled up, and it didn't give him the greatest maneuverability. So he will angle the thrusters down a little more to see if that improves. He likes the idea of adding different arms to pick up rings in the pool and see which ones pick up better. We have another date set to use the pool to test a new hypothesis, and do some data collection! Then he will write his report and make a presentation board displaying his project and findings.

I'm very happy he chose to do this project. It's a very cool "toy" for a 15 year old, he learned a lot from the project, and hopefully it inspired him in new ways to love science!

Supercharged Science is really full of quality science projects that are not only fun, but educational, too. Want to see what kids can learn and build with the eScience program? There are so many cool projects. Create wireless FM transmitters, door alarms, scrolling clocks, police sirens, and robot sensors in Unit 14. Construct solar batteries, wind turbines, and crystal radios in Unit 12.

The videos aren't always sharp and clear, but the information is great, and the videos are the heart of this program. They are like sitting down and talking to real scientist. Her tone is very conversational and casual, but interesting and informational. Having the added benefit of being able to talk to Aruroa in the comments or by email makes it feel all the more personal.

In this program, you will discover, learn, investigate, construct, create, and more in a very hands-on way!

Supercharged Science is ideal for:

  • a projects based science curriculum for all levels of learning

  • unit based studies

  • hands on and visual learners

  • learning science as a family

  • inspiring a love for science!

  • unschoolers, delight directed, or eclectic homeschoolers

  • those who need a science course with a lab for high school credit

  • those needing a super cool science fair project

  • those wanting a fun summer based program

  • those who just love science and want to do cool projects and have fun with it!

Why Supercharged Science might not be a good fit for some:

  • While many projects can be done with supplies that you may have around the house, many more require special parts.

  • If you like a text book approach to science with only a few experiments and labs.

  • A computer and internet is required for this course most of the time. The videos are an integral part of the program. So, while I may be able to file some of the experiments to do at a later date, I will need a subscription to do most of them. I only have a 6 month subscription, so I won't be able to plan far ahead in my History or literature studies, because. . .

  • The cost of 1-3 months of the program is more than most homeschoolers spend in an entire year, and it cannot be used again once the subscription is up. I spend an average of $150 a year on science, but that includes all of the supplies I need and a reusable text book that can be handed down. I believe it is worth it - just out of our budget.

Price

As a reviewer, I have full access to all levels, K-12, for 6 months. This would normally cost me $57 a month. For just the K-8 level, it is $37 a month.

Try 5 lessons for free!

Technical Requirements

  • Computer (see link for specifications)

  • Internet connection

  • Adobe Flash Player and a PDF reader like Adobe Reader

While it says they are working to make the e-Science videos work on mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones, I was able to watch videos on my iPhone.

Supercharged Science has really ignited my love of Science. Do you want to see more experiments as we do them? Please say yes!

Connect with Supercharged Science on FacebookTwitterYouTube, PinterestG+, and their blog.

If you love science, please do be sure to click below to read more reviews ~ you will be inspired!

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9 comments:

Diana M. said...

Great post! Love the photos! Just wish I could ignite my son's interest. Currently have SCS too, and he just stays uninterested. ::sigh::

Michelle said...

Thank you for this review. We use Supercharged Science in our homeschool and have been using it for several months. We tried it last year, I loved it but thought it was too expensive, so we cancelled our subscription. After that, I tried many science programs and didn't think any one of them came close to making science as fun and exciting as Supercharged Science. We use the K-8, so it's $37 a month for us. I really do struggle with this cost -but I always come back to: where can my kids truly get a quality science education when their mom is not science minded at all? That is what is important in my opinion. I want to give my kids the opportunity to discover if they love science, which could then lead to a possible career path one day. In all the experiments that we have done at home, 99% of the materials are items I have in my house, and Aurora often gives suggestions for substitutions. Many of the experiments are unique and the fact that almost all of them include a step by step video, it makes it easy to "get it right." Often times, when I find experiments on the web or in a book, if something doesn't work right or I am not exactly sure what the outcome should be, I am left guessing. But I don't have that problem with Supercharged Science.

To be fair, there are some things I don't like about the program. I think the website could be more user friendly - or at least updated. One thing that annoys me is that often times I have to watch an experiment video before I know what exactly the topic of the experiment is. For example, I was recently going through the 5th grade Life Science experiments (there are a lot of experiments for that unit!) and didn't know the more specific topics of the experiments. I wanted to sort out all the muscle experiments, the bone experiments, the respiratory experiments, etc. It just made more work for me, but I was willing to do it because I love the program. So for now, we are sticking with SCS. Just wish it was more affordable for more people, because it truly is a HIGH quality program for learning science.

Lisa M. @ Farm Fresh said...

Michelle, I absolutely love your review!!! I ESPECIALLY like the detailed process for Nathan's experiment! My Seth would love to do that...actually , HUSBAND would be all over that experiment!

I too with there was a way to "save" the videos becasue they are such an integral part of the experiments...but for now I'm printing out as many directions as I can with the lessons so that I can refer to them later!

I agree about the price...but I know I will strongly consider this for the middle school years even if not now.

Anna said...

This sounds like a really neat science program. Thanks for your wonderful review!

Michelle said...

You make some great points, Michelle! I agree about igniting a desire in my children - that's one reason I wanted to review SCS! I agree that it is high quality, too. I love that the experiments have real meaning! Thanks so much for adding your review! I think it will be helpful to my readers. :)

Michelle said...

Lisa, thank you! I really put my heart into this one. :) I really needed a project for Nathan and it worked out so wonderfully. I've been printing things, too - watching the videos first, so I have an idea, but I will probably forget! I really think it is high quality and worth it - maybe even for 3 months at a time or during a season I know I will be able to get a lot of out it, yk? I don't think I could go through finding the supplies for a big project again, though - that was hard!

Katie said...

Hi! Thanks for the wonderful review of SCS! I have been contemplating this program for weeks and cannot decide whether to go for it. Your review definitely makes me want to give it a try. Can you (or anyone) comment on if this program is truly meant for younger "scientists"? I have a gifted 5 year-old who is working at a 2nd grade level in most subjects. He has a lot of experience with science in that we have been doing experiments/reading since he became obsessed with space at age 2. We are finishing Nancy Larson Science 1 in the next couple of weeks. He LOVES science, especially hands-on projects. However, I know he will still struggle with some fine motor work (and he struggles with perfectionism). I've read other reviews that say to wait for SCS until middle school....but it looks amazing. Any advice? THANK YOU!

Michelle said...

Hi Katie! I would say with adult supervision, the program would work for a 5 year old - especially one working at a 2nd grade level! My daughter is 7 and in 1st, and there are many experiments and projects she can do. I would sign up for the free activities and try a few to see how you like it. When deciding if I wanted to review this, I did just that and decided I wanted to give it a try! I am in planning mode for Five in a Row - a literature based unit study and SCS is the resource I never knew I needed! It was hard to find quality experiments previously, but it has been fun to find projects to tie into our rows. So, I don't see a need to wait until middle school - I see a lot of projects I would have loved the past two years (when two of my children were 5 and 7). Some of the projects span several grade levels, so that is why I say with adult supervision. Hope that helps!

Katie said...

Thank you Michelle! I appreciate your response. Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts about your children of similar ages. That is quite helpful! Katie