Saturday, April 13, 2013

TOS CREW Review- Supercharged Science

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Recently we were given the opportunity to review Supercharged Science  e-science program for grades K-8th, though it does have high school levels as well!  Developed by engineer and scientist Aurora Lipper, Supercharged Science is all about adding fun and excitement to your science program. 
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I am not a science kind of mom and just reading about experiments makes me weary!  There are supplies to gather, safety to think about and failed opportunities lingering in the back of my mind.  Nice, huh?  So I have to tell you that this review was a stretch for me, but I so desire to have my kids like science and to actually get to see and do some fun experiments that I took a leap of faith.  Supercharged Science far exceeded my expectations.

About Supercharged Science-
Once you are logged into the e-science portion of Supercharged Science, you are free to choose from the various units available.  When you join you will be given access to the first 7 units and then will have two additional units opened each month.  If there is a specific unit you really want to access you can email Aurora and she will open the unit for you.  Customer service is one of their strong points!  There are Units on Chemistry, Biology, Light, Matter and even Math just to name a few.  After selecting a unit, you will have a side menu to choose from that includes the lesson reading, which also has a print friendly button, and then the experiments.  Included in the reading pages are discussion question as well as the answers.  Each unit has multiple experiments you can watch and chose to try.  There are over 1000 experiments total on the site so you will have plenty to pick from.  Supply lists for each experiment are printable as well making it easy for you to shop for any supplies you may need.  Some experiments are easy to do with things you are likely to have on hand, while more advanced ones will require more speciality items.

Here is the best part in my opinion- you can WATCH the experiments.  Each and every one of them!  That may sound trivial to you, but trust me, there have been many an experiment that we have been directed to do in a science book that did NOT turn out like it said it would.  I am convinced that if we had been able to SEE what they were talking about we would have had a better chance of being successful.  There is nothing more frustrating as having an epic fail on an experiment.  After watching the experiment, then you are ready to try it yourself.  Or not.  There were some that I felt were safe enough for us to try, but there are just some that I prefer to watch someone who knows what they are doing do it.   Either way, my kids have gotten to see some neat things, which is more than I can say previously when their wimpy mom read an experiment and said no way!  Yes, I am a chicken, and yes, I prefer to let Aurora do some of the more advanced experiments without me.  If you have a question or just want to make a comment on the experiment you tried you can post on the website and Aurora will answer you back!
Our experiences-
There is no doubt in my mind that you can use Supercharged Science as your primary science program and stay busy for a very long time!  Each unit has enough reading material and experiments to keep you busy for several weeks depending on how many of the experiments you chose to try.  I allowed my 5th grader to chose a unit to start with.  Wouldn't you know he would chose Unit 9- Light Waves!  I printed off the reading pages, a hefty 33 pages, and we spent the week reading all about  light waves, photons and lasers.  The following week we set to work on experiments.  We tried things like playing with lasers and seeing why a pencil looks like it bends in a glass of water.  My son's favorite experiment by far was focusing the sun's light to burn a leaf.  We watched Aurora do the activity first, then went outside to try our luck.  Even the five year old joined in the fun!

The second unit we choose, with a little more guidance from mom was unit 3 on Matter.    While this unit I thought was a little more challenging as far as the reading went, we still enjoyed it and learned that there are actually more than three states of matter and got to see a new one we learned about by microwaving a grape!  Plasma is ionized gas and can be seen as a bright light when you zap a sliced grape in the microwave.  Very cool!

Simple Hovercraft
One of the areas on the website that we really liked and found to be less time intensive was the tab Simple Experiments and Videos.  Here is where we found experiments with a little background material and a simple set of instructions.  We enjoyed trying the simple hovercraft, catapults, and disappearing beakers.  I love this area because there are just some days when our energy is low and time is at a premium, but the kids still need a science lesson.  While you may not be able to base an entire lesson on those experiments without a little effort, you can keep kids happy by filling in with them occasionally.   Often times Aurora will send out a quick email with a experiment link and my boys have learned to watch for those emails with excitement.  One of their favorite- heating up Ivory soap in the microwave to see what happens when water molecules are heated up.

Heating up Ivory soap

Additional thoughts-
My kids really liked this program!  If I had just looked at the price alone, I probably would have shied away from it, but after using it like we have, I am excited to continue on.  I found the site easy to navigate and I love having such quick access to a real scientist if any questions arise.  Aurora and her team are super at what they do and it is clear that they love it as well!  Keep in mind, this is NOT watered down science.  The readings are challenging at times and an elementary child would have a hard time following along, in my opinion.  But the experiments can be enjoyed by all and surely they are learning something by just watching.  If nothing else, they will begin at an early age to appreciate science.  I wish this had been around when I was young.  Maybe I would have not turned out to be such an experiment chicken!  I encourage you to give it a try!

For the K-8th grade level- $37.00 per month
For High school level- $57.00 per month

As a bonus for our readers, Supercharged Science is giving you access to some free sample activities and projects. This will give you a chance to try out some activities for free to see how they work for your kids. To access this free sample from e-Science, go to:" In Addition, if you are on the fence about signing up, take a minute to go to this page and read "What's so great about this program? It has a great chart comparing it to other programs!

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