Add Excitement To Homeschool Science ~ Supercharged Science #Review
Ooh boy, do I have a fun e-Science Program to share with you today! Lately we’ve been experimenting (no pun intended) with Supercharged Science, the extremely comprehensive, hands-on science curricula for grades K-12.
What Does Supercharged Science Include?
Originally crafted to take students through science by topic, e-science now has two learning paths to follow – by topic or by grade level. (Or, if you’re creative, random, or supplementing another science curriculum, there’s always the option to view, use materials, and complete experiments in any order you desire.)
There are 20 main units covering everything from matter to physics, plus additional topics including an intro to using the program, the scientific method, science fair projects, “mathemagic”, teaching resources, and a “science camp”. If instead you chose the grade level route, individual grade levels are listed through 8th grade, then high school subjects are found in “Advanced Topics“, which includes physics, chemistry, electronics, alternative energy, astrophysics, and science fair projects.
What Kind of Family Is Supercharged Science For?
Supercharged Science is explicitly designed to be easy to use in a home environment, regardless of how much science experience the parent themselves has. Each lesson includes one or more videos, a plethora of experiments (no, you’re not expected to do them all!), worksheets or suggestions for lab reports, and more. One of my favorite features? The downloadable supply list, where you’re recommended to circle all the items that you already have, and start with those experiments, moving on to other experiments if time allows or interest level demands it.
The parent will be doing a bit more prep work of the gathering-materials sort, plus arranging the schedule, especially if you need to go out of order – but everything else is so easy-peasy and straightforward that the parent comes out on the plus side of the equation.
What Do The Kids Think?
Oh boy. My guess at this point is that it’s going to go down as their favorite science curricula ever, and if not, it’ll definitely be in the top three. The focus on experiments, rather than traditional textbook reading (though there is a light amount of that provided), makes this a favorite with hands-on learners especially. And what kid doesn’t like to be DOING to learn?
A Tool I Recommend Even If You’re Not Ready To Subscribe
Make sure to check out the page about the Science Journal. I have spent WAY more than my fair share of time trying to teach this concept and process to my kids, and have never found a resource that was both so succinct and complete. It’s entirely usable no matter what science program you’re using, and if lab notebooks have been or remain a challenge in your household, this is what you need.
Highly recommended to go along with lab notebooks – keeping a camera on hand and recording experiments as you go along. Love this! (Wish I could have used this tactic in my high school science courses… it would have saved me a ton of time attempting to draw things out, and would have been far more accurate, not to mention much more appealing to look back at and review!)
A small caveat, though – back them up! We’ve been snapping pics all along, plus some videos – and about the same time I went to write things up, I discovered that my memory card has apparently died on me. (And am bummed – hate losing ANY pics whatsoever.) Back it up! is the theme of my week.
How We’ve Used Supercharged Science; How We Plan To In The Future
For the review, we wanted to get a broad overview of the kind of topics and experiments available, so I decided on a “what can we randomly try without buying anything” project. I printed out each of the unit supply lists, and took a red pen to them, marking every item that we already – at least I was reasonably certain – already had on hand. Then I went through again, with a different color – this time find the items that could be purchased for a reasonable price here locally. Anything that required a higher cost, purchasing it in the city, or ordering it got marked with a third, “not right now” color.
This led me to discover a couple of things; while most of the units are designed to included as many experiments as possible that use typical household objects and supplies, there *are* topics that don’t lend themselves to that concept quite so easily. Those require a little more pre-planning, and probably a little more expenditure. My recommendation for dealing with that possibility, and prevent being caught off guard, is to, early in the school year, sketch out the plan of action and check out those supply lists as recommended. It’s relatively simple to do and will save a lot of potential hassle.
Also, there really are a surplus of experiments available. Supercharged Science is absolutely serious when they tell you there’s no need to complete them all. There are *way* more than any other curricula I’ve encountered, and I’m not sure even most homeschoolers have time to do absolutely *all* of these. (Another thought – an expected/suggested time to spend on each topic is available in the unit download, which also includes any text-based instruction, along with experiment procedures, learning goals, and other details. Download and use this. So far, all the ones I’ve encountered have been black and white, so they’re low-cost to print and use… and scribble notes on, if need be.)
As for the future – Chey is in 6th grade, Chris is in 8th, and so far, we haven’t been totally satisfied with any science. This, I could see us using and continuing… but I think that perhaps I’d like to do so by topic, as that really appeals to me. If I were starting with younger students, I could totally see approaching it through grade levels, but I’m not sure that’d be appropriate for us. Topically will allow us to tread lightly on subjects that they’re already familiar with, while spending more time in those they’re not, or in those that they have greater interest in.
Do You Have Boy Scouts?
We do. I discovered it too late to use it for the review, as we already had other plans in progress, but Supercharged Science is in the process of creating paths to follow to learn and do what is needed for specific Boy Scout merit badges. I’ve wandered through these pages, and it looks like these will be an excellent tool for us, and I’m considering how it might be best used with our (rather large) boy scout troop. (And what I’m willing to do, if I’m expected to facilitate… the scary thing is, this makes it look e.a.s.y.
Five are already available, with another nine under consideration. At a glance, I don’t think that any of the merit badges are Eagle-requireds, nor does it appear that all science-related merit badges have been included in the lists. (Environmental Science and/or Sustainability would be a *really* good one to have, if possible, since it’s they’re a challenge for many scouts.)
It also occurred to me, as I was comparing the badges available or in the works with meritbadge.org, that there are several badges that would fall into a category like “health” or “technology”, both sciences in their own right, and and it would be interested to see if Supercharged Science already has materials that would work for completing some of them, or if additional would be needed.
Can I Try Out Supercharged Science Before I Commit?
There are two ways. The first, get access to a free 5-lesson science activity and video series. Designed to 1) be engaging, and 2) be a fast, simple, low-cost way to get started, these lessons use things you’ll already have on hand. The creator, Aurora Lipper, states that “your kids can be doing science this afternoon”… and that’s pretty much true, unless it’s already afternoon where you are. :)
The second is that Supercharged Science has extended a special offer just for readers of TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew readers. Would you like to try e-Science for just $1 for the first month?
How Much Does Supercharged Science Cost?
There are two different pricing schemes for Supercharged Science. Access to all materials for grades K-8 is $37 per month, while access to the high school level materials is $57 per month, and the K-8 content is included as a “bonus”. The lower level content is excellent for use to provide a base level of understanding in a subject for completing the advanced material. (It can also be used by advanced 5-8th graders, so if you have middle school students that are highly interested in science, or already working above grade level in other subjects, I’d recommend adding the high school level to your arsenal.
How To Use Supercharged Science As A Supplement
A very extensive list of correlations between Supercharged Science and other programs is available on their “conversion charts” page – from comments shown, it appears that they are quite responsive with regard to adding new ones, though I don’t have personal experience with it. (Now that I think on it as I write this, I *do* have a couple of years worth of one that we’re using right now (from the virtual school) that are solely text-based and could use this as an add-on. Hmm. I suppose I should send them tables of contents and see what they come up with!)
Is Supercharged Science A Good Value?
This is the one that I’m struggling with. I really, *really* like the way the curricula is presented – it’s super easy to use, the majority of the materials are easily found around the house or inexpensively purchased, and information is presented in a way that makes sense to the kiddos. However, if you’re on a extremely low-income budget like we are, shelling out more than $50/month for one subject is pretty much impossible, even if it’s usable by all of my students. The fact that it’s an online subscription – and thus time-limited – instead of being reusable for no extra cost, also factors pretty heavily into the equation.
For example, with my four kids, thats $57 x 12 months, working out to $684/year. Ouch. Sure, separate curricula for 3 or 4 kids will be about the same for a year, but the difference is, that physical curricula I can re-use for four kids, cutting the price per child per year down to 1/4 of that. I just don’t know if I can justify that difference for my particular household, no matter how wonderful I think Supercharged Science is.
Of course, that said, your financial situation is almost certainly different… and, there might just be a way to mitigate some of that cost – check back tomorrow and I’ll tell you about it. In the meantime, click below to see what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members had to say!