Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Supercharged Science (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Science has always been a favorite subject with my kids.  Hands on science is especially well enjoyed in our household, so when I was given the opportunity to review a full year of access to e-Science Homeschool Science Curriculum for grades K-12th from Supercharged Science, I knew my kids would be asking to do science daily.

Supercharged Science is the brainchild of former NASA scientist, mechanical engineer, university instructor, pilot, astronomer and mom of four Aurora Lipper. Mrs Lipper has been teaching science to students for almost 2 decades with highly engaging hands on classes that exceed state and national standards and STEM requirements.   Using the concept that students don't want an education but instead want to explore, discover and think for themselves, Supercharged Science allows for students to actually perform science and learn from actually doing science experiments rather than reading about them.

The online curriculum can be used one of two ways.   One can elect to select a grade level, in which they are given a list of topics appropriate for that grade.  For example, a concept learned in life science for PreK-K would be that all animals need food in order to live and grow.  However, 8th Grade topics include Chemistry and Physics,  with learned concepts being things such as substances are made from different types of atoms which combine with one another in various ways to create molecules that range in size from two to thousands of atoms.

The second way the curriculum can be used is by topic.  This is great for those students who enjoy rabbit holes.  If say, a student really enjoys learning about animals, the topic of Biology can be selected and that student can learn a wide variety of information about vertebrates, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Some of the topics available to select from
Each lesson is taught by Mrs Lipper, who is a very energetic engaging woman with long flaming red hair that will quickly caught any kids attention.  She doesn't bore students to death with a dry, monotonous lesson that drains on and on but instead jumps right into what the student is going to be doing and why they are doing it.    With over 1000 various hands on activities covering a large selection of topics, most involving household items (a printable list of necessary materials is available for each section), students will appreciate the practical way scientific concepts are taught to them.

How We Used It 

For this review period, the kids have been working their way through the 6th grade level of the curriculum.  The 6th grade portion offers sections on Earth Science, Energy, and Life Science.  When given the option, my children both decided they wanted to start with the Life Science portion of the curriculum.

The Life Science unit for 6th Grade has 18 different experiments for the kids to do.  For each experiment, I simply print out the handouts that contain the instructions for the experiments, pages to make notes and observations on, as well as a few questions to reiterate what they have learned.

  The lessons themselves include video and explanation where the instructor, Mrs Lipper, walks the student step by stem thru what they will do.

Watching the video lesson on how to prepare a Heat Fixed Slide

The first lesson turned out to be more of a review for the kids to refresh their memories as how to safely transport, use and store the microscope, as well as how to determine total magnification of their specimens.

One they were re-familiarized with the scope, it was time to have a bit of fun.  The first experiment had the kids cutting out and looking at various items they could find in the house.. This included a letter from a newsprint, a piece of grass, hair, salt crystals to name a few.

Garrett looking thru the microscope

Newsprint letter under the microscope
Hair Under the Microscope
Fresh Cut Grass under the Scope
In addition to the actual observations, the lesson stressed the importance of documenting their observations as accurately as possible, not only for their own records but so that others looking at their drawings would know what they were looking at, as well as what magnification they were observing the item at. 

Ashleigh documenting her observations
Ashleigh's observation results 

The second experiment had the kids looking at pond water and learning about how to create wet mounts and also how to use stains on their specimens.  As we live in the dessert, there's not a whole lot of pounds around and I didn't think they would think too well of me going out to the water hazard on the golf course to get some water. However, my husband reminded me that there was an area where the sprinkler runs off collect in a ditch.  With the hopes of finding at least something worth observing, I went collected what we began to refer to as " cup o' nasty"..

Cup o' Nasty collected from the drainage collection under the bridge
One thing I should mention is that in addition to living in the desert, we live on the Roger's dry lake bed.  I have heard stories about the various crustacean life that lie dormant in the dry lake bed and during periods of rain, they come out of dormancy, breed, lay eggs and die. The eggs stay dormant until the next rain season and the cycle begins again.  So imagine our surprise when our "cup o' nasty" revealed clam shrimp and fairy shrimp.

Clam Shrimp
Fairy Shrimp
Another Fairy Shrimp
Garrett's Observation Sheet
Ashleigh's Observation Sheet

Continuing with the next lesson, the kids learned how to prepare a heat fixed slide.  For this slide, they observed yeast as well as cheek cells.  Each kid has become a pro at preparing their own slides.
Garrett creating a heat fixed slide

Ashleigh preparing her own heat fixed slide
Ashleigh staining her slide with iodine. 

There have been a few other units that we have looked over, but have not been able to do the experiments due to our desert environment.   However, we did have dead grass that our lawn service had left behind, so we began working on another experiment where the kids create a protozoa colony in a glass.   We are giving this one a few days before we begin to look to see if we have anything living in our culture but this has now been dubbed "cup o' nasty 2.0".

Other experiments we have started is to make a water scope.  The kids watched the video for this one and are super excited to bring a waterscope to the tide pools at the Leo Carrillo beach this summer.

We have gotten thru 8 different sections of the life science portion of the curriculum.  Once we work thru the other 10 portions, we will be moving on to work on the earth science portion, which is much longer and consists of 52 different experiments.   If scheduling works out well, I look forward to finishing up with the 25 experiments involved in the Energy portion of the curriculum so that kids can finish the entire 6th grade section before our year is over.

#hsreviews #homeschool #homeschooling #homeschoolscience #homeschoolmath #sciencelessons #homeschoolavtivities #homeschool #AuroraLipper #SuperchargedScience #STEM

For more information about Supercharged Science, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find them on the following social media platforms:

Be sure to click the banner below to read other reviews from members of the Crew.

e-Science Homeschool Science Curriculum {Supercharged Science Reviews}

Friday, May 24, 2019

My First 5K

Official Race Photograph - Taken by Christina Nicholle Photography 

Last Saturday, I ran my first 5K.  After losing over 40lbs and working out for the last year, I felt it was time to try my hand at the race.    I had registered for this race back in Feb, and shortly after, we found out my husband was going to be at NCOA for 5 weeks and would not be there to run with me.. I almost backed out, but I decided to run anyway. 

For those who don't know, a 5K is a race that is 3.1 miles in length.  It use to take my over a half hour just to walk 1 mile, and here I was about to try to do over three miles. 

For my first race, I picked the Run With History 5K that was held here on base.  This particular race allows runners to run on the flight line as well as the dry lake bed, areas that are normally off limits.  While I only ran the 5K, there was also a 10K as well as a half marathon being ran this morning. 

Half Awake at 630am, waiting for the 710 run time.

These races are all Out and Back races - the Start line is the finish line as well. For me, I would run a bit over a mile and a half, turn around and run back to where I started. 

 The air traffic control tower in the background.  Yes, we were on the actual tarmac for the flight line.

And we're off.   We were the last group to begin our race, as the Half Marathon and the 10K runners were all sent off before us.  We started our race at exactly 10 minutes into the clock.

Blue skies surprisingly, as it had been rainy and very windy for the last two weeks leading up to the race and it got rainy and windy later the afternoon following the race.   God gave us some beautiful weather just for the event.

 The Run With History aspect of this race is that the runners are able to run past various military aircraft, both past and present, as well as on the very flight line that great names like Neil Armstrong, Alan Sheppard, and Chuck Yeager have taken off and landed on.

And here ya go, my moment of glory as I was heading in to the finish line :)   Not the best video, as my daughter was video taping and I had run over to slap hands with my kids as I came across the finish line. 

Post Race, wearing my tshirt and holding my participant coin (instead of a metal).  Very hot and sweaty.

I went into this race hoping to Walk/Jog the entire 5k and finish in under 52 minutes.  I admit, I was slightly disappointed when I crossed the finish line and the timer read 55:17.  I totally forgot to remember that the 5K started 10 minutes after the clock started.   When I typed in my bib number and saw 45:17, I was completely in shock.   My fastest pace prior to this race was a 17 minute mile, so a sub 15 minute pace really thrilled me.. And I'll be honest, if I hadn't had to stop to start my fitbit (i forgot to set it for my run til a half mile in) and slow down to restart my phone, I could have easily had a sub 13 minute mile.. LOL  

And to celebrate, the kids and I went to a local Mexican restaurant and had a nice dinner. 

Thursday, May 23, 2019

EdAlive (A Homeschool Review Crew)

Over the last few weeks, Ashleigh and Garrett have been working on their typing and math skills using Typing Tournament Online and Maths Invaders Online, two browser based programs from EdAlive.

Typing Tournament Online

Typing Tournament online is a browser based ten-finger typing course for ages 6 and up.  Using a medieval theme, the program progressively introduces the student to properly using the entire keyboard as they advance through 128 lessons.  Each lesson level includes various games and drills that help the student develop muscle memory between their eyes and their fingers. As they progress thru the map, they earn certificates and badges as their typing skills improve.

Each section of the map is pretty straight forward.  The student must complete the current section, including a speed/accuracy test before being able to move on to the next section.  Each level builds upon each other - in Level 1, students learn the home keys that are typed with the left hand,  section 2 the student learns the home keys controlled by the right hand, ect.  Typing proficiency is achieved over the course of 16 levels.

The lessons themselves are straight forward.  Students start with the instructional lesson, practice drills and a few fun games to help the student build the skills needed to pass the test with a high enough proficiency to meet the set word per minute goal.

Ashleigh working with Typing Tournament Online

Ashleigh has struggled a big with the typing.  It took her a bit of typing to pass the test for Level 1, which was a bit frustrating for her.   Partly because she did not realize that once she made an error and the letter turned red, she could hit the backspace button to correct the error.

We saw this screen a number of times 
She did eventually pass the first test.  Once students pass the speed/accuracy test, they are given a certificate that they can print out.  

Maths Invaders Online

Without a doubt, the Maths Invaders Online program was a real hit with the kids.  This program is also browser based math program that uses a spaceship blaster theme to engage students to practice their math skills.   Designed for ages 5 and up, Maths Invaders Online helps students to practice skills with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, percentages, square roots, powers and more.  

There are three options that students can select from.  

First is the Galactic Campaign  which players must shoot math invaders down before they descend upon  the players space ship.  Using the left and right arrow keys on the keyboard to move across the screen, students answer math problems by typing the answer and then hitting the space bar (enter key works as well) to shoot down the invader.  If the answer is correct, the problem explodes.  Bonus questions also cross from left to right across the top of the screen - students can try to play their answer shots to get these bonuses.  Students continue this process until they completely defeat the wave of the invaders.  

The second option is the Space Rescue.  This is a multiplayer game where the player competes against three other students currently playing as well. This game works very similar to a digital battleship. There is occasionally a wait while players are paired together to start a game.  We did not play the Space Rescue portion beyond testing to see how it worked.

The final section is the Practice section, which works much the same as the Math Invaders portion but doesn't advance as the student clears each wave of invasion.  Students can select a particular skill to practice in this section.  This has come in especially useful for Garrett who needs extra practice with his times tables.  I can either select for him to work on one particular table (for example, x3s which he struggles with) or I can have it give him multiple/all skills.

In addition to the online program, the Maths Invaders site also has a worksheet generator. Parents can select what skills they would like their students to work.  These can be printed out and used away from the computer.

Both kids have really enjoyed using Math Invaders.  However, we started at the very beginning of the campaign, which started with very easy addition and subtraction problems.  I recently learned that students can skip further into the campaign to more advanced skills.  With this knowledge, the kids are now able to work on their times tables for extra practice.

For more information about both Typing Tournament Online and Math Invaders Online, as well as other programs offered by EdAlive, be sure to visit their website.  You can also find them on the following social media programs.

Be sure to click the banner below to read the other reviews from the members of the Crew. 
Typing Tournament & Maths Invaders Online {EdAlive Reviews}


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