Science4Us.com (Crew Review)
I want to love science. It teaches us about God’s world and leaves me in awe of His infinite creativity and remarkably complex design. Yet when it comes to homeschooling, the word “science” starts to fill me with dread. I want to find a way to teach my children about the wonderful world God has created in a way that doesn’t seem dreary and dull (as I remember my science lessons being when I was a child). Science4Us.com is something I probably would never have sought out on my own, but when I was given a Science4Us.com Online Subscription to review I was pleasantly surprised by this wonderful program designed specifically for Kindergarten through second grade.
Ian caught glimpses of the website before I found out I was going to get to review it and was intrigued. So by the time I was able to access the site he was very excited. When the student signs on, they see a screen like this :
Once I showed Ian how to choose a “book” of science (physical science, inquiry, life science, or earth/space science) he had no problem taking off on his own and exploring the site, which contains over 350 lessons! He was immediately drawn to the section on “force and motion” and then chose the module on simple machines and the proceeded to go through the entire lesson in one sitting. I kept telling him he didn’t have to do it all, that he could save some for the next day, but he insisted that he wanted to finish the lesson. I think it took him about an hour. (The next morning he immediately went to the computer and finished two complete modules on motion and space.)
My first impression was very positive, and it only get better over the course of the time we were reviewing it. The activities were full of information but short enough to not be boring. There were several activities where it was helpful to know how to read, but not necessary because they provided an option to have it read aloud with a simple click. He really liked the “Syllables with Silly Bulls” activity, which provides spelling and reading practice for the student as he puts together the words. Ian also got his first experience putting words in alphabetical order, something he probably would have dragged his feet at if I just sat him down to do it, but which was “fun” because it was on the computer.
Science4Us.com is built upon the “5E Inquiry-Based Instruction Module”:
Each lesson has a series of activities that take the student through these five stages of learning. The program is web-based, but there is more to it than just the online activities. If you sign in as a teacher you can find a teacher guide and offline materials to go along with each lesson.
If Ian were older I would have spent more time utilizing those resources, but as a Kindergarten science curriculum I found the online activities alone to be plenty. He really enjoyed working through lessons on all sorts of subjects, and since he was excited about science, I decided to really follow his lead and stick with just the online portion of the program.
Things we loved
- There is lots of teacher support. You can assign certain lessons, view the student’s notebook, and watch training videos to help you get the most out of the program.
- There is SO much integration of literacy and math skills.
- I especially liked how it helped Ian put together on online “notebook” where he created pages about what he was learning.
- I love the connection to everyday life. As Ian was going through a lesson on heat, he came across a picture of a scientist using a thermometer just like one we happen to have at home. He came racing out to find it and was so excited that what he was learning about was “real.”
Things we would have liked a little different:
Science4Us.com is an excellent program, and there’s not really anything I didn’t like about the way it is presented to the students. However, as a homeschool parent there were a couple things I would have changed.
- The cost of the program is $7.95 per child per month. As a homeschooler, a family price would have been more beneficial. My 4-year old saw what Ian was doing and wanted to copy him. I was generously given a subscription for both boys, so he was able to sign on himself to do some lessons. However, some of the work was beyond him, and I wouldn’t have chosen to pay for a subscription for him as he used it a lot less than Ian. While it makes sense for a school to pay a cost per student for all the students in a certain grade, families have a different dynamic since there are students at different levels who might not be able to utilize the full program but would still benefit from being able to use it.
- The way of viewing the records of what has been accomplished seems geared more toward a school setting. As a classroom teacher I can see wanting to view what every student has done on a particular subject. However, as a homeschool teacher, I would have liked a way to see all the things a single student has done in the entire program on one page, but I could only find a way to look at one subject at a time. (I am told they are working on adding this.)
Overall I would say Science4Us.com is a great Kindergarten science curriculum for students who enjoy spending time on the computer. Whether you have your student go through it systematically, assigning specific lessons and working through each book of science one at a time, or just let them explore and follow their own interests, they will learn a lot, have fun, and develop a love for science that will carry them on to more in depth study as they get older.