Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Doctor Aviation (A Homeschool Crew Review)

When I was young, I saw the movie Top Gun for the first time. From that day onward, I tell everyone that my first love was Tom - not Tom Cruise mine you, but the F-14 Tomcat. At the age of 10, I knew I wanted to fly jets, I was going to go to Miramar, I was going to train with the best and I was going to zip over the skies at Mach 2.  I learned as much as I could about the history of aviation, joined the Civil Air Patrol and my childhood idol was Chuck Yeager.  I studied hard, planned out where I would attend college, all with the plans of joining the US Navy as an officer and leaning to fly.  Unfortunately, genetics had other things planned for me, because at 5'2, I was too short to fly jets for any branch of the service and my dreams came crashing to the ground.  I did flying a few aircraft, a small piper cub and a smaller Gulfsteam, but fighter jets would never happen for me.

However, that love of all things aircraft and flying has stayed with me all these years. That's why I was really excited to get to review Doctor Aviation, an online series six month aviation course produced by Daryl Smith that is designed to instruct those interested in aviation about the mechanics of flight.

About Doctor Aviation

Doctor Aviation is a 15 session video course that guides students through various aspects of the mechanics of flight, the history of flight, and pioneers in the aviation world through the use of videos, handouts and recommended outside resources.  The course is designed for high school students as well as adults who would like to learn more about the aviation world.

The video courses are taught by Daryl Smith who served 24 years as an Air Force pilot with more than 2,000 flight hours under his belt. During his time in the Air Force, he served as a research pilot, reached the rank of Command Pilot and then went on as a flight instructor for the United States Air Force Academy.  He is the author a highly praised book entitled Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT/CFTT) and is currently a university professor.  Dubbed "Doctor Aviation", Daryl Smith designed this lecture based course to instruct those interested in aviation and to fuel their knowledge in the industry.

Through the course of the 15 video lectures which run between 50 minutes to an hour in length, students are introduced to concepts such as the Bernoulli's principle and propulsion, basic aircraft mechanics such as foils, rudders and air frames, as well as other aviation jobs beyond flying, such as ground support crews and air traffic control. Each video lesson covers three topics per session: First is Technical Trivia which discuss an aviation principle ~ aerodynamic concept, an instrument, an aircraft part, or a maintenance function, followed by Notable Innovators where students learn the history of an influential person in the field of aviation and how that person contributed to the field. The final section is titled Legendary Aircraft and Events where the discussion is about an important event, aircraft or accident that occurred in the history of aviation.

Once logged in, the student's dashboard makes everything easily accessible. The current lesson video is found at the top of the screen and can be maximized in order to make it bigger.  Any reminders are located below the current session, alerting the student that an examination is coming up or that study notes are available.  Below this is the Additional Resources section which contains the printable guided notes and additional recommended resources.  A "Mark as Complete" button allows the student to mark the lesson as done so that next time they load up the student dashboard, they will be taken to the next lecture of the series automatically.

Doctor Aviation Dashboard
In addition to each video lecture, a downloadable PDF file of printable handouts are available in which to take notes and to keep on hand as a study tool when offline from the course.  These handouts come in the form of fill in the blank where key points from the lectures are emphasized in a bullet style format. There is also a downloadable PDF file for each lecture that offers additional reading in the forms of online articles, book suggestions, photographs, movies and videos that tie into the discussed topic.

A final component of Doctor Aviation is Examinations.  Students have the option of taking the Doctor Aviation course for half high school credit and are offered the opportunity to take a graded examination over the course material.  Three Examinations are offered: Examination 1 is offered after completion Session 5, Examination 2 is offered following Session 11 and a Final Examination following Session 15.  These examinations are not located on the website directly but are given by request simply by contacting the site administrator.  Practice Exam questions are available from the website to help practice before requesting the examination.

My Thoughts

I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I will say that even before working on this course, I had a pretty extensive general knowledge of aircraft, flight mechanics and the history of aviation.  There was a time I read everything about the world of flight that I could get my hands on.  As a teenager, I began to learn to fly thought Civil Air Patrol, taking the controls of a Piper Cub and then later of a Gulf Stream G650. I've been up close and personal with the AH-64 Apache helicopter and I've helped my husband study many of the operations needed for emergency engine shut down and troubleshooting for the F-22.  I've pretty much been around aircraft of some sort all my life.

With all of that said, I found plenty of information that I had either forgotten or hadn't learned while viewing the video lectures on Doctor Aviation.  Daryl Smith does a wonderful job of explaining and displaying topics such as the axis of the aircraft, something that can be very confusing from just trying to read about in a text book, or the forces that are applied on the aircraft during takeoff, landing and flight.  He has a calm presence while speaking and has a great way of putting technical topics in terms that are easy to understand for those without any previous knowledge and he often demonstrates things such as wing flaps and rudders using a VANS RV-10 single engine aircraft that sits in the hanger beside him while he speaks.

One thing I really liked was that I could mark a lesson complete and then the next time I brought up my dashboard, it would show me the next lesson available.  The website also kept track of where I was in the video for each session, so if I stopped in the middle of a lecture, it was very easy to pick right back up where I left off without having to rewatch or try to find where in the video I was previously at.

I also really appreciated the PDF guided notes. These helped me to stay focused on the material being presented as I filled out the handouts and gave me something to review before starting the next lesson.  Having the hand outs helped me to pay closer attention to the lecture, in an effort to make sure I filled in the correct answer and completely filled out the pages.

This was pretty typical as I was watching the lecture with the hand outs right beside me
Without a doubt, however, my favorite part of his lectures were the Notable Innovators section.  Many of these historical figures are what you would expect when discussing the aviation world: Chuck Yeager, the Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart and Neil Armstrong. However, there are other innovators who are not commonly thought of when it comes to flight, such as Daniel Bernoulli who makes an appearance in Session 4.   I previously learned about Bernoulli's Principle (which was important in designing the wings of aircraft) not from my love of aviation but from my career in respiratory therapy and Lung Pathophysiology.  Anyone in the medical field would also recognize his name as his principles also had much to do with monitoring blood pressure.

Screen shots of some of the material covered in Doctor Aviation

Since Chuck Yeager was a huge idol of mine when I was young, I especially enjoyed the lectures about him.  And while I already knew of the history that this base played in the lives of Yeager, as well as Neil Armstrong, it was really neat to see my home, Edwards Air Force Base, talked about and shown in the videos.  While Ashleigh and Garrett didn't sit with me for the more technical sections of the lectures, they did often join me in watching the sections about Notable Innovators and Legendary Aircraft, so they also learned about Chuck Yeager and his history here at Edwards.  This reminded them that we had a statue that I had pointed out many times in the past of Yeager on our base and they wanted to visit the next time we went to the library.  We have been here 7 years and had never paid it a visit prior.

Seeing the statue, we talked about what we had learned from the lesson, most notably about how he designed his helmet himself for his sound breaking flight.  It was a really neat experience for the kids and they immediately wanted to check out books from our library about Chuck Yeager to learn more about him. Luckily our library had a few.

Who knows, one of these two might also get the flying bug after watching these lectures with me and reading about Yeager and Earhart.

We also have access to the remains of Pancho Barnes Happy Bottom Riding Club.  Pancho Barnes and her club makes mention in the lessons in regards to Yeager (and I'm sure it will be mentioned in the lesson about Neil Armstrong).  While there's not much to see anymore beyond a few walls that remained after the club burned down and the old swimming pool, it is neat to walk where such legends in both aviation and in the space program spent much of their time hanging out.  (Note: Not my photograph as we didn't know if the area was restricted and didn't want to get in trouble).

I have really been liking Doctor Aviation and I think this course would be of great interest to anyone who has interest in the aviation world, whether they dream of joining the service to be the next "Top Gun", fly a commercial airliner or even just get their private pilots license to those who just love airplanes and are curious how they work. It's also a great option for a student looking to get a half credit on their transcript.  It's interesting, educational and will be a favorite with anyone who loves the idea of flying.

#hsreviews  #Aviation #AviationHistory #DoctorAviation

For more information about the six month Doctor Aviation course and how it can be used in your homeschooling, visit their website at DoctorAviation.com.  You can also visit them at the following social media sites:
Be sure to check out the other reviews from the crew about  Doctor Aviation by clicking the banner below.
Aviation Course {Doctor Aviation Reviews}

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trust Fund (A Homeschool Crew Review)

How many times when you were growing up did you hear "When you're older, you'll understand why I said no"? Or maybe you, as a parent, have said something similar to your own children when we make decisions for them but knowing that they are not yet able to understand the "why" behind our decisions. Maybe you've watched as your older children have made decisions that took them down paths that you knew weren't right for them but felt helpless knowing that sometimes, they have to learn the heard lessons on their own and there's not much we can do until then but put it in God's hand.

Recently, the members of the crew had the opportunity to preview the movie Trust Fund, produced by Mapelle Films.  In addition to the movie, many of us were also given the opportunity to read Love Was Near, a book that accompanies the film written for young girls ages 12+.

About Trust Fund

Trust Fund focuses on the story of Reese, a young woman who grew up in an affluent home with her father and older sister after losing her mother during her teenage years.  Reese tends to let her heart lead her life, making decisions spur of the moment with very little thought of the future or what actions she might have to take in her life to actually achieve any goal she sets.  When she learned that upon her mother's death, she was left a sizable trust fund that she was unaware of, Reese takes the money and lets her heart once again take the lead, putting her into a situation that she never expected.

Written and directed by Sandra L. Martin and produced by Isaac Alongi, this movie features Jessica Rothe as Reese Donahue, Louise Dylan as her sister Audrey and Kevin Kilner as their father, Greyson in addition to a strong supporting cast.  The movies total time, from beginning to the end of the credits, runs 1 hours and 48 minutes in length.  English closed captioning is available.

Without giving too much of the story away, this story is a modern day twist on the proverbial tale of the Prodigal Son, or in this case, the Prodigal Daughter. The movie echoes Jesus's parable, from the wayward lost daughter who thinks she's entitled to something but then loses everything, to the father who offers forgiveness and the lesson of love, to the sibling who resents the father's happiness and acceptance of her sister's return.

Available Small Group Study Guide
Regarding questions of questionable content - I personally had no issues with this movie and would feel comfortable allowing a young teenager to view this selection. However, be aware there is a scene where the main character is wearing only a men's style t-shirt as she kisses her boyfriend "good morning",  a scene where women are by the pool in bathing suits and there is some smoking and
drinking by grown adults.  There is also some illegal activities that take place as part of the storyline.

In addition to the movie, Mapelle Studios also offers a free, downloadable 12 page Study Guide, especially useful if viewing this movie as part of a Small Group. This study guide helps to guide the viewers through the similarities of the parable of the Prodigal Son and the movie through questions and Biblical passages to help dig deeper into the story.

My Thoughts

First - the movie.  The cinematography is excellent with great visuals and stunning backdrops as the story unfolds.  The cast are also spot on and are believable and it would be hard pressed to pick any one cast member who doesn't give a strong performance.

I ended up watching this movie alone since my daughter is currently away on summer vacation but I am looking forward to watching this with her once she returns. There are so many lessons to be taken away from Reese's story: that sometimes parents make decisions that a child might not understand or like but that there is a reason behind them, that sometimes the heart fails to recognize faults in a situation and overrides common sense, and that even when a child makes a mistake, a parents love is always there to help pick up the pieces and to rejoice when they find their way home.

One of the things that I noticed quickly is that it seemed Sandra Martin used other's research in her development of her characters.  I was reminded of "The Birth Order" by Kevin Leman in both Audrey and Reese.  Audrey is the reliable, self driven, self disciplined, structured older sister while Reese falls into the "baby" roll perfectly as the fun loving, out going, self centered, free spirit sister.  If this was done intentionally, then kudos to Martin for doing her research. If not, then even more kudos for some really great character development skills.

The main character, Reese, starts off as likable but a very selfish young lady who is use to having everything she wants - a nice apartment in the nice part of town that's out of her price range (and that Daddy pays for), a monthly allowance that she constantly blows through frivolous spending and lack of budgeting, and unrealistic expectations for how she expects to support herself.  Not unlike many young adults today.  While her father wants to see her happy, he also wants to see that she beings to take life seriously, offering her a job at his publishing company to help her learn the value of hard work and a paycheck. However, Reese being the baby and up until now having had everything given to her, doesn't see the need for responsibility in her life.

This really hits home while reading Love Was Near, the book that accompanies the movie.  Love Was Near, which is also written by Sandra Martinis not a retelling of the movie but is instead additional material to read after watching the movie in the form of diary entries and writings by Reese. These writings bring more insight into what was going through Reese's mind as the events of the movie take place and allows the reader to see how Reese's character changes as she reflects on the aftermath of her actions and we see many of the events through her eyes.  Through these diary entries, we see her begin her journey of growth with a selfish attitude of "The money is mine and my mother wanted me to have it and my father is wrong to keep it from me. My mom would want me to be happy" to "I now understand my father knew I wasn't ready for such a huge responsibility and was only waiting until I was mature enough to handle such a large sum of money".

In addition to telling her story, many of the pages are designed like a character study.  As the book is
written for younger readers in their teenage years, the guide aspect offers questions that allow young readers to reflect on their own lives and situations so that they begin to learn how some of Reese's mistakes and learned lessons can be transferred over to their own lives.

Sprinkled through the pages of cute doodles, bits of poetry and diary entries, there are also many beautiful references to Bible verses that can be applied to the situation.  These references to verses tie in with Reese's journey as she finds not only herself, but her Heavenly father who has always been there for her.

Together, I think this is a great approach, at least in terms if I was reading this as a teenager. Through the "diary" aspect of the reading, you almost get a feeling of sharing secrets with Reese, like you're privy to something very special, just between the two of you. After all, when we were young, many of us had a diary and would never dream of allowing anyone to actually read it, yet here Reese is opening her's to you, the reader.  Then, by answering the questions, you not only gain insight into your own self, but share in that experience - like making entries in your own diary.   I think it's a great concept on approaching teenagers, who do not necessarily enjoy opening up about there lives but might be more open if they feel they are sharing the experience with Reese.

#hsreviews  #trustfundmovie #family  #movienight  #moviereview  #familynight  #familyfun

For more information about Trust Fund and Love Was Near, please visit their website. You can also find more information on the following Social Media platforms:

Trust Fund Movie {Mapelle Films Reviews}

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Car Show

We have had our car now for well over a month an a half and up until yesterday, it's pretty much been base bound.  However, last night we were invited by the Antelope Valley Mopar Club to bring the Challenger to a local Cars & Coffee Show, which was being hosted by the Antelope Valley Auto Enthusiasts .  Charles took a bit of time to get the car spic and span and then we headed out Lancaster to a little coffee shop for a bit of family fun on a Saturday night.  The meet was held at a small coffee shop called Liquid Beans which had great ( albeit a bit pricey)  coffee.

We were really happy to see that the Mopar Club was very family friendly and that other members brought their kids as well.  Garrett and Ashleigh had a blast playing with others as well as checking out all the cars.  Ashleigh deemed the El Camino her favorite, while Garrett preferred the white Challenger owned by one of the club members.   We made new friends and look forward to attending other shows in the future.

While I took a TON of photographs, most of them are in the video above that my husband made.. However, this one is probably one of my favorites, using the miniature filter to make the cars look like toys in a display ;)

The Challenger Row waiting watching as other cars arrive.

Kids all Playing nicely together and staying out of the way of the cars coming in.

Ashleight's favorite of the night - the 1967 El Camino

And making it's first Car Show Appearance - The R/T Wasp 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Our Upcoming School Year (2017-2018 Curriculum Choices)

Where did the summer go?? Well, technically, there's still plenty of summer left (which can be verified by the soaring temperatures outside, but even still, our BX, Walmart and Staples all have started their Back-to-School sales, the local schools have put out their supply lists and the start of a new school year (at least for the public schools) is right around the corner.

Granted, we school year round.  It's really way too hot outside during the summer months for the kids to have any sort of fun outside anyway and so we just continue to do our school each day like any other time period.  This means we are able to take a few weeks off more often during the rest of the year and it also means our school year runs from October to October rather than from August to May. So while we still have a few weeks left of our third grade year, 4th grade is in our sights.

So what do we have planned for the kids as they transition from 3rd to 4th?

First up, our math curriculum.  We have been using Math Lessons For A Living Education: Level 3 from MasterBooks and are nearing completion of that book and the kids have enjoyed the format of it well enough.  So why mess with a good thing, right?  In October, we will continue with the series and start Level 4.  We find that the way this curriculum breaks down the sequence of learning as well as provide multiple opportunities to review previously learned skills to be perfect for the kids and the workbook pages are not just pages of straight math problems, which the kids seem to like much better than other curriculum.  I also really like how each chapter uses a story to chose the kids how the skills are used in a real life setting - answering that age old question "When will I ever need this in life".

We prefer the digital download version of this book, as I can print out the work each week for both kids easily (and legally!!) and it takes up no room in our bookcase.  I simply print out each weeks lesson, staple and punch holes in it and put it in their weekly notebook for them to work on each day during our math time.


I gave the kids the opportunity to decide what science course they wanted to take and Anatomy and Physiology won out.  I couldn't think of a better curriculum for this than Apologia's Young Explorers Exploring Creation Anatomy and Physiology.  As you might recall, I got a wonderful deal on these books from Rainbow Resources at the recent Homeschool Convention.  Apologia has some wonderful curriculum and is one of our "go to" sources for sciences.  

I'm extremely impressed with this particular curriculum as it is pretty thorough in it's coverage of the human body, especially for an elementary level course. (My oldest daughter took an Anatomy and Physiology course in High School her Senior year and I find this to be pretty "on par" with her class).

In addition to the labs and notebooking included in the text/journals, I will probably be adding occasional coloring pages from The Anatomy Coloring Book by Wyn Kapit/Lawrence M Elson.

If you are unfamiliar with this particular book, I highly recommend it for any Anatomy&Physiology course, especially at the high school and college levels.  While much of it is going to be too advanced for my 4th graders, there are plenty of diagrams that they will be able to use while learning about the different systems of the body.


Some time back, we finished Mystery of History Book 1 and a couple of weeks ago, so now it's time to jump into Book 2.

I absolutely love this particular history curriculum because 1.) it's from a Christian perspective 2.) it provides history lessons more of a "story" format rather than a typical history text and 3.) it includes grade appropriate activities and map work laid out in one book. I also really like that this is a curriculum that can "grow" with this kids.  I don't have to expect them to memorize every little detail as we cover it right now, because in a few years, I will just pull this book back down from the bookshelf, wipe off the dust and repeat the lessons but include activities for middle school students in mind. Then,
it goes back on the shelf and in a few more years, it again gets pulled off the bookshelf and repeated, but with high school level activities.  This means that this book will be used at least three times, each time increasing in difficulty and should result in more retention of information each time.

In addition to the activites and map work included in the book, Garrett will be using one of Skrafty's Minecraft self paced classes that coincide with this particular book.  If you are unfamiliar with Skrafty classes I'll give a brief explanation. Each week, students are able to listen to an audio lesson from one of the teachers that cover the weekly material in addition to reading the pages assigned in their text book and doing the assignment activities.  Then, following the lessons, the students are given a minecraft build assignment, which is completed on the secure Skrafty Minecraft server. Builds include things like making a copy of the Arch of Constantine, the Mayan ruins, or the Tower of Hercules.  At the end of each week, there is also a quiz (which is multiple choice) that is graded.  Since Garrett is more of a "hands on" learner and he absolutely loves Minecraft, this is a great addition for him and he has really enjoyed the Skrafty classes we have done in the past.

Foreign Language

We've tried so many foreign languages in our school and while they kids show some enthusiasm in the first week or two, that quickly wanes and then they start hating it.. We've tried Chinese, French and Spanish, all with very little success. However, that changed when Ashleigh was introduced to Latin.  Her first taste of Latin was when we reviewed Olim..Once Upon a Time in Latin from Laurelwood Books.  She enjoyed it but it wasn't what I would consider a comprehensive curriculum.  Then we reviewed Prima Latina from Memoria Press and that was the perfect fit for her. So why mess up a good thing, right?

Since we've only been using this book for a few weeks, we have plenty of lessons to last until the middle of this year, before we transition to the next level (Latina Christiana), which I will probably have to purchase in January.

Garrett has begun working on Greek (which is a review item coming soon) and has really been enjoying it as well, so I think we've finally found something that works for him in the Foreign Language department.  He is currently using "Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek!" level 3 and while we've just completed learning the alphabet, he's taken a shine to it and is doing well.  On the plus side, Ashleigh has also been involved with Garrett's lessons and has been learning a bit herself which is great, since Greek and Latin seem to work well together.

Language Arts

This is the area where things are not yet set in stone, so to speak.  Garrett is setup with Language Arts as he will continue using Lighting Literature and Composition (Grade 3).  This has been a good fit for him and he's doing extremely well with it, far better than most reading/language arts curriculum we have tried.  It's hard to find a Language Arts curriculum that Garrett doesn't balk at doing and this one fit the bill.   With a pretty modest price tag, I will probably transition him to Grade 4 of this same curriculum once he's completed this book. 

The problem arises when trying to decide on a curriculum for Ashleigh, as she is well above grade level in Language Arts and Reading. She's currently using Apologia's Readers in Residence and while it does include Grammar lessons, it is more of a reading comprehension curriculum.  I also don't want to purchase a 4th grade curriculum for her and it not be challenging enough for her but I also don't want to move to a 6th grade curriculum and have her miss some important information.  This is my current conundrum.  

My honest hope is that we will be granted the chance to review Monarch Online and begin Ashleigh on the Language Arts curriculum offered there.  Then, depending on how well she does and which grade level seems to be the best fit for her, I will probably purchase the individual grade CD for the class.  Alpha Omega Publishing offers a very generous discount for military families, which I can take advantage of at that time.  So - fingers crossed that we're selected for that review. LOL  Even if not selected, we are taking advantage of the 30 day free trial for Monarch Online, which will give me an idea if their curriculum will work for Ashleigh and if so, what grade level would work best for her and so I can still decide if that's the route we wish to take. 

Those are the major subjects that the two littles will be doing this upcoming year.  There will be more added to the list, for example, reading selections and electives such as physical education, arts and music.  Those are "as we go", however, and no actual set in stone curriculum.  Other subjects like Nature study and Astronomy are an ongoing education in our home and they will continue to be taught.  We will also continue to use Home School in the Woods Make-a-State Activity Pak along with the USA Activity Bundle from TheCraftyClassroom.com (another upcoming review item, btw) to help the kids learn the 50 States. 

Getting Prepared for College

One exciting event for us is that Alyssa will be joining us in our school this year.  As you know, Alyssa graduated from public school in May.  However, because the school only provides the state minimum requirements to graduate, Alyssa's lacking three classes that she needs in order to enter the university that she wants to attend (Lamar University in Beaumont, TX). Because of this, Alyssa will be taking courses with our school so that I can add an additional transcript to her education once she completes those three classes.  Basically, she'll be taking a gap year before going off to college in order to complete those needed required classes.

Since Alyssa needs one additional laboratory science, we will once again be adding an Apologia class
to the mix.  Alyssa will be working through the latest edition of Marine Biology, a college preparatory, high school level course.  This is yet another upcoming review from the Review Crew and we are extremely blessed to have been selected for this review. (Btw, the Crew will begin taking applications for new members probably in October - so if your interested, feel free to message me for information!!).  This book contains text, tests and labs including experiments, dissection and microscope work and once completed, will give her a full high school credit for a laboratory science.  We're fortunate to have a microscope and many of the required slides (and what we do not have, we can access online) and $40 later, the marine life specimens are on their way, although I have no idea where I am going to store a dead dogfish shark lol.  

Once again, we've got our fingers crossed that we will be placed on the Monarch Online review, because if so, this will allow Alyssa to complete her Algebra 2 class and have it taken care of within 6 months.   This would take care of the 2nd class requirement that she needs for Lamar.  (I am still upset with the local high school for NOT offering her an Algebra 2 option and instead forced her to take Consumer Math following Algebra 1 and Geometry- but that's a whole different blog post.. haha).

For the third class, Alyssa and I will have to sit down and make a few decisions. She has two options that will work - 1. she can take the second level Spanish course with Rosetta Stone (which we can get from our base library) and then take the Spanish CLEP test in order to get credit. The other option that she has is to take a Spanish course with our nearby Community College, hopefully as an online course so that she will not have to drive 40 minutes a day for class. If not selected for the Monarch Online review, she will have the same option (Community College) in order to take College Algebra and then transfer both credits over to Lamar University.

What do you think of our choices? Are any of these selections new to you? Have you used any of these yourself?  Let me know in the comments :) 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fascinating Chemistry (A Homeschool Crew Review)

When I was in school, I found science fascinating.  I loaded up as much as I could, even taking science classes for electives.  However, there was one science class I really regretted not taking - Chemistry. I really wanted to take the class but was informed by my academic adviser that I shouldn't due to the fact that I struggled with my mathematics classes.  That stigma stayed with me past graduation and on to college as once again, I took plenty of life sciences but steered clear of Chemistry.  However, the class has always remained an interest of me.

A few weeks ago, I was given the chance to review Fascinating Chemistry, one of the online science courses offered by Fascinating Education. If you've followed this blog for a period of time, you might remember in 2015 when my husband reviewed the Fascinating Physics course, which he really enjoyed.

Fascinating Education is an online, browser based curriculum that offers higher level science courses for middle and high school students - or adults like myself who just want to further their knowledge.  Currently they offer Fascinating Biology, Fascinating Chemistry and Fascinating Physics which they recommend taking in that order. They also offer Fascinating Medicine which includes two separate courses - Fascinating Anatomy & Physiology and Fascinating Logic of Medicine.

Each class is taught using an audio-visual technique using clear and concise language and pictures that is effective for learned who struggle with science understanding and each course is designed to assume that the student has no previous instruction in the subject.  The course starts with the basics for understanding as it continues on a path towards more complex materials but breaks each topic down in language that is easy to understand and with graphics that helps demonstrate to the student.

Each class is taught by Fascinating Education founder Dr Sheldon Marguiles, a retired neurologist, author of three educational textbooks, as well as studied law.  Dr Marguiles has a very gentle voice that is easy to listen to and easy to understand, with no accent that would make him hard to understand by some.

For each lesson, students log in to their class through the website and click the lesson they are working on.  Each lesson comprises three components: the video lesson, a PDF version of the script that also includes photographs of the video slides, and a test.   I would like to point out the email link at the top left hand corner of the page.  If ever the student has questions or issues with the lessons, Fascinating Education encourages the student to email them for help.

Once a lesson is selected, the student is presented with a series of slide shows and animations as Dr Marguiles begins to explain the information.  To the left of the screen, students are given a list of the segments covered in the lesson.  As segments are watched, they are "greyed out" on the list, making it easy to go back to review or to go back to a portion of the lesson where they left off. Each lesson takes roughly 45 minutes to watch with individual segments lasting between 5 to 10 minutes in length on average.

Each portion of the slideshow runs in order on it's own, the student only has to sit back, watch, and take notes (or highlight information on the PDF script as they follow alone).  After a certain amount of information has been presented, Dr Marguiles then goes back and reviews information before moving on, giving the student a chance to make sure they understand what was just covered.   Here's a short video to show how each lesson is taught and how the slides transition.  In this video, Dr Marguiles is discussing the London Dispersion Forces of Butane vs Octane.

At the top of the screen above the lesson, there are suggested additional resources that the student can access, such as links and documents, although, for the first few lessons, there haven't been any resources recommended - probably because I'm still in the basics of the class.

Other lessons also have Lab experiments that the student can do in their home that demonstrate what has been learned.  For example, with lesson 2, a lab is provided that has the student grow Salt Crystals, which is to demonstrate how when ionic bonds are made.

After each lesson, students are able to take a test over the information they have learned.  These tests are a series of about 15-20 questions about the information covered and test your understanding of the material. They are presented as multiple choice questions, with four answers given. Students click the correct answer and then proceed to the next question.   The "Need Help?" button at the top is a hint button and will bring up information for the student to refresh their memory of the concept/information the question relates to.

After the last question, the test is graded immediately and students are given their grade.  It is recommended that a student score at least 80% on these tests before moving on to the next lesson and if lower than 80% is achieved, the student should go back and re-watch the lesson.

What I Thought:

Honestly, I'm kicking myself in the derriere for not having taken Chemistry in school, especially after starting this class. Granted, I'm only 4 lessons into the class, but had I had a teacher like Dr Marguiles, I have no doubt I would have done well with the class.  It's all a matter of the presentation and Dr Marguiles does a great job of explaining information in bite size pieces that isn't too far over my head.

The Chemistry course is made up of 19 individual lessons. Each lesson builds upon the previous lesson, so it is recommended to do the lessons in order.

I do admit, the first lesson, I zoned out a bit, trying to listen to the lesson while doing other things like dealing with the kids.  I quickly found out, when it came time for the first test, that I wasn't going to get very far without giving the class my full focus, as I failed the first test miserably.  After determining that I would have to do the class when there wasn't many distractions around me, I rewatched the lesson and passed the first test.  Since then, I haven't had a problem passing subsequent tests.

The lessons themselves are very easy to follow. I print out the PDF script before watching and then I sit with my highlighter and start the lesson up and watch it as I have the time to focus.  The graphics that accomodate the segments are very simplistic and to the point, accurately demonstrating the material without throwing too much at me too soon.

We noticed one small hickup with the website and that was when it comes to accessing the labs.  Clicking on the labs from the lesson (if you notice at the bottom of the above screenshot, it lists the lab) brings you to the lab website, but for whatever reason, this doesn't allow one to access the lab and instead brings you to a screen that says you are not authorized to access the lab and tells you to purchase the subscription. This is easy overrode by clicking on the "Members" menu at the top right of the screen where an option for the Chemistry labs is available.   Labs are presented as a printable PDF document with step by step directions as well as a great summary as to what the lab demonstrates.

First 6 Labs for the Chemistry Course - the "Memebers" area is highlighted in blue. 
While I haven't had to email Fascinating Education for any issues (as said above, I found a go around to access the labs), I will say that from the previous review that my husband did on the physics course, the staff at Fascinating Education are friendly, polite and are quick to discuss issues or even suggestions to help make their product even better.

I'm really enjoying learning about Chemistry and Fascinating Education has made the process fairly easy for me, someone who's been out of the educational classroom for many, many years now.

Learn about Chemistry with Fascinating Education #hsreviews  #Homeschool #chemistry #biology #physics #highschool

To learn more about Fascinating Education and their various science courses, please visit their website.

Biology, Chemistry & Physics {Fascinating Education Reviews}

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