We’re pretty nerdy in this house. The highlight of my childhood was spending a week at Space Camp. Hubby insisted we buy ourselves a microscope last Christmas as the big “family” gift. He bought me a telescope for my 26th birthday. When we found out we would be reviewing the e-Science program from Supercharged Science, I don’t know who was more excited, Hubby and I, or the kids.
This program is written by Aurora Lipper, a mother, NASA rocket scientist, pilot, university professor and enthusiastic teacher. When teaching at Cal Poly, she realized that her incoming students did not have a solid science background, and worse, had no passion or excitement for science. She created Supercharged Science as a way to teach kids scientific principles while showing kids that science is FUN.
For review purposes, I was given access to all the Study Units available in the e-Science program. Study Units contain overview videos, text to read, and many experiments for the child to complete. The idea behind e-Science is to get the child’s interest first, so you’re encouraged to start with the demonstrations and experience to hook the child and get them interested, and then dig deeper into the subject matter.
Our Experience with e-Science:
I initially was very overwhelmed with this program. There are so many places to click on the dashboard, and so many words on the page that I wasn’t sure where to start. Luckily, Aurora has a “getting started” section that spells out HOW to use the program. Basically, all you need to do is pick a unit, put together a Science Journal, assemble supplies, and GO.
We started with the magnetism unit. I had big intentions of doing more than one unit in the last month, but we soon learned that Supercharged Science is very effective in getting the kids INTERESTED in the subject at hand. Bug is hooked on magnets, and has been living and breathing this unit for the last 6 weeks.
The unit starts with an overview video and a teleclass (an audio recording of an actual class of students learning the lesson, and asking questions) which lead to lots and lots of questions. Aurora recommends writing these questions down in your science journal and then taking notes as you complete the activities and experiment listed. As you explore the subject, and find answers to your questions, you add the answers to your journal too. This overview page also contains a table of contents to help you navigate the study unit.
The Lesson plans are printable PDF documents which contain an overview of the material, including objectives and vocabulary words. It also includes a materials list, organized by easy to find materials, and specialty items, which are often linked to websites where you can purchase the materials. I really appreciated these links so I didn’t have to hunt around for materials. Inside this document is also “textbook” reading for the child, a few experiments, and exercise questions which could be used to test your child’s knowledge or as a worksheet to encourage research. The Textbook pages contain more reading, and more in-depth PDF textbook downloads for older students.
The fun part of the site is the experiment pages. On the Magnetism unit, there are two “lessons,” Magnetism, and Electromagnetism. Each experiment has an associated video of Aurora working through the experiment step by step. I *love* this part of the program. So often when we do a “science experiment” I’m not entirely sure what the outcome should be or if I am doing the steps correctly. With e-Science, there was no question, because I could see what Aurora was doing each step of the way. Some experiments required materials we just couldn’t get our hands on (for example, a super cool Ferro fluid demonstration), but we didn’t have to miss out because we could watch the Supercharged Science Video.
I also loved that if I had a question about how to complete an activity, or if I needed more information or clarification on a topic, I could go to the members’ area of the site and leave comments and questions on each experiments page. The program is set up as a blog format, so I can see past comments and discussion threads in the comments of each post, which was extremely helpful. Aurora herself is very active on the pages and answers questions promptly. One downside of the program (at least for me) was that you will receive a lot of emails from e-Science. The support and motivation can be good for some people, but I didn’t really like this part of the program. Luckily, you can unsubscribe from the daily emails if they don’t suit you.
This review product became a whole family activity in my house, and I loved that it encouraged science exploration as our after dinner fun activities. I loved that Bug and Daddy could sit down together and bond over science. I love that this program is user friendly enough for me to pull up the webpage and hand a bag of materials over to my husband, and he could teach. (Not like my husband is incapable of teaching normally, it’s just that he isn’t a follow the lesson plan kind of guy. Supercharged Science’s laid back format and user friendly videos just made it that much easier to shift between independent work, and different parents teaching.)
I did feel like a lot of the information and activities were over Bug’s head (second grade) but he did well working with his dad. The assignments and reading were too advanced for Mr. Man (kindergarten). I feel like the K-12 range on this product is stretching it a little, and would be most appropriate for 4-7th grade with a large amount of parent participation, and older kids would be really successful working independently. This program would make an amazing summer exploration unit for a self-starting older child, or as a full curriculum for middle or high school physical science- physics especially. I would hesitate to rely on it as a full curriculum because there is not much content for the life sciences, but more content is being added constantly. I will be anxiously watching to see if more material is developed to cover all the science disciplines.
In a Nutshell
I highly recommend this program for middle to high school students learning about the physical sciences. This program is very strong for physical science topics, and could very well be relied on as a full science program for older students. Younger students will need adult support to use this program and the material may be too advanced for them. You will need to purchase supplies to complete many of the experiments. This program comes with amazing support from the author herself in the form of discussion threads in the supercharged science members’ area. When you subscribe to the Supercharged Science e-Science program, you are given access to the first 7 units (Mechanics, Motion, Matter, Energy, Sound and Astrophysics) as well as the unit on the Scientific Method, and how e-Science works. Each month after, you will receive access to the next two units in the line up (see the screenshot I shared above to see what other units are available).
The e-science program is available as a monthly subscription, 37 dollars a month for K-8th grade, and 5-7 for the full K-12th grade program. If you are going to sign up for e-Science, I highly recommend you read their policies (as with all online subscription programs).
Want to read more reviews?
My crew mates have also been using the Supercharged Science e-Science program, and we all picked different units to explore. Check out these other reviews to hear about their experiences!