Monday, April 21, 2014

Philosophy Adventure (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Philosophy Adventure™—Pre-Socratics by Home School Adventure Co. is a biblical worldview philosophy curriculum for students in 6th through 12th grades.  By focusing on contextual reading, writing, and critical thinking, it prepares students to effectively debate their views skillfully.

Philosophy Adventure™ covers a broad variety of subjects focused on the lives and ideas of eight philosophers:
  • Thales
  • Pythagoras
  • Xenophanes
  • Heraclitus
  • Parmenides
  • Empedocles
  • Protagoras
  • Democritus
Luke (grade 10) completed the first two units on Thales and Pythagoras over the last six weeks.  This program qualifies as a cross-curricular program encompassing English, Writing, History, Geography, and Theology.  If you were working with a younger student, you could complete a single unit in well under three weeks.  Used at face value,  the entire program would take approximately a single semester.  In order to turn this into a full year's credit (120-150 course hours), we are adding extra research and writing.  While this program does compare the ancient Greek philosophers with similar minded Christian/Catholic principles (for example, Thales also held the idea of water as an arche, or "first principle" of origin of the earth), Luke took a bit of extra time to delve further into scripture and consider the similarities and differences in schools of thought.  In addition to writing, we have had a number of oral discussions, where Luke was forced to focus on not just the ideas of what he was saying but the articulation of those thoughts.  While the practice in writing is never bad, it is more likely that an oral debate of philosophy and religion is where he will be tested in real life.

The Philosophy Adventure™—Pre-Socratics digital download includes three components: a Student Reader, Student Workbook, and Teacher Resources.   The Student workbook is an item that I really appreciated as the parent-teacher.  It provides unit comprehension questions, geography/map exercises, and writing prompts.  Luke had two complaints about it.  First, the spaces left for writing were awkward (it was too much room for some questions, not enough for others).  Second, the map section was really difficult, because the map in the workbook did not align with the one in the text.  As the parent, I can see the value in this - it forces actually map reading and not just copying.  However, with no orientation points in the second map, as well as being offset from the first, it was difficult to find the places on the map.

The map above (from the text) shows ancient Greece as the westernmost section of the map, while the map below moves further west and includes modern Italy.  It also only goes as far east as Mesopotamia, while the original includes the western edge of India. 

Thankfully, the Teacher's Resources contains Maps with answer keys.  I looked up the answers, was able to see the differences between the two maps, and point Luke in the correct direction.  Once he realized the maps weren't the same (he knew they weren't, but couldn't figure out where the two overlapped), he was able to complete the task.  He also knows that going forward, he may have to shift the maps around and not just copy from one to the other.  (The Teacher's Resource also contains Memory Cards, Timelines, and quizzes with answer keys. The notebook pages do not contain a key, so if you are considering note-taking as a grade, you will have to make sure the student is answering those questions correctly.)

Each unit has three goals - to be engaging, easy to use, and empowering - and  follows the same scheme:

-Philosopher's story: biographic and contextual history
-Write, Think, Speak: assignments to complement the text
-Geographical information
-School of Thought
-Discussion of source material (primary/secondary sources) and comparison with Biblical worldview

Sources (primary vs secondary) and context are discussed early on in the program.  For example, in unit two (Pythagoras), context is shown to be critical in understanding.  This is especially important when studying the Bible and developing a Christian view of the world; it can become very easy to take a single verse or two out of context and reinterpret it to suit the debater's point.  One could actually do this very easily with any source - from the Bible to a modern essay.  The program teaches the importance of looking at the entire passage, both alone and in context with the source's message, when formulating your opinion and debate foundation.

In addition, each Greek philosopher's contemporaries are listed.

I definitely appreciate being able to see these contemporaries placed side by side.  While we will not be studying each of these philosophers and religious figures, it does help to be able to place them in time.  It also makes a parallel study simpler, because you are able to truly compare civilizations in both a parallel and intersecting fashion (especially through following trade routes and interactions).

Philosophy Adventure™ is a great resource for comparative study, both of ancient Greek schools of thought as well as Christianity.  I think it is very important to study other philosophies, in order for you to better understand your own religion.  When you take the time to study other perspectives, it helps you understand your own religious background, because you can see similarities between beliefs as well as understand the differences.  Understanding what makes Christianity unique is critical in an adult acceptance of it; "Because that's what I was told," really isn't enough to adequately defend your faith.

Home School Adventure Co.

The regular price for the digital download version is $39.95, but Home School Adventure Co. is offering TOS Crew Review readers a 10% discount through May 14, 2014. (The discount is also valid on the other Crew-reviewed titles: Philippians in 28 Weeks, Mere Christianity Critical Analysis Journal, and The Wise Woman with Literary Analysis Journal Questions.) Use the code CREW-10 at the checkout. 

Click to read Crew Reviews

©2012- 2014 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He is Risen! Thanks be to God!


 Christians are an Easter people.  Despite the focus on the birth of Jesus, the crux of our faith is literally the Cross.  Without His death and Resurrection, what do we have? Nothing. 

One year, I attended a Good Friday service with a beautifully short yet poignant homily.  We can look at history, and see that yes, there was a prisoner released in exchange for another man.  That man dragged a cross through town, up a steep hill, and was hanged to death on it.  It's history.  Faith is we believe that man was our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Faith is what tells us that the man who physically died gave his life for all of us.  He rose on the third day, and showed himself to his first followers, and like St. Paul, we believe because we have been told. 

We have been told He is no longer in the grave. He has risen from the dead, and is with the Father, where we all shall be.  Thanks be to God!  Alleluia!

(Note: There is no Sunday Sharing party this week. See you next week!)

©2012- 2014 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Curiosity Quest (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

I just finished calculating the mileage for medical deduction on my taxes.  Between doctor and therapy appointments, I drove 10,147 miles - all of it in 85 or 105 mile increments.  That's a LOT of time on the road.  At first, I just gave the folks in the back seat free time to read or play video games, but it was getting ridiculous how much school time we were losing in the car.  There was no way around it - the boys all needed the therapy appointments that were starting to run to four days a week between them, but something had to give.  When we were offered videos from Curiosity Quest to review, I had an "AHA!" moment.  If they're going to be staring at a screen, why not make it something educational and count it for schoolwork?

Videos like Produce (combo pack) and Swimmers of the Sea (combo pack)  ($24.95 each)  may not work as well if you have older children, but overview-style videos are sufficient for preschool and first grade.  I am definitely impressed with these two DVDs. Each 90 minute video contains three 30-minute episode that are coordinated by topic.  Produce takes the viewer two three farms - a mushroom farm,  an orange grove, and a cranberry bog.   Swimmers of the Sea visits The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, Florida, the penguin habitat at California's Aquarium of the Pacific, and an Alaskan salmon hatchery.

Curiosity Quest Produce DVD combo pack
The first one we popped in was the Produce video.  Being in the driver's seat, I didn't get to watch it, only hear the audio playing.  I wish I could have seen the video, because the narration really grabbed my attention.  The sound was crisp, the dictation clear, and the story engaging.  Detailed information was shared throughout the episode, but not so much that it became overwhelming. Host Joel Greene's enthusiasm is contagious,  and he stops the proprietor or biologist when they start talking with too much "technospeak" and steers them to simplifying their explanations.   However, Jude and Damien watched a bit half-heartedly.  They were listening and told me things about each episode later on (proof that they had absorbed information), but when I glanced in the rearview mirror, they were looking around the car and out the window.  When I got a chance to watch the video, it was good quality and the host interacted well with the surroundings, but I think the topics weren't particularly exciting to almost-4 and 6 year old boys.  The cranberry video showed the berries bouncing and oranges shooting along the sorting belts, but it generally didn't keep the boys' focus on the screen.

On another round-trip to the hospital, we watched the Swimmers of the Sea video.  This one had the "Awww...they're so CUTE!" factor and kept eyes facing front.

Curiosity Quest visits Magellanic Penguins

We have a local aquarium that also has Magellanic penguin exhibit, so they could relate to these "tuxedoed" birds.  While we've just seen them waddling about the exhibit, through the video they learned about the care that goes on "behind the scenes."

We had a repeat viewing on another trip, this time with Celia and Matthew in the car as well.  Given the choice of videos, they opted for the animals. Warning:  9 year old girl + baby turtles = you really ought to have earplugs.

baby turtles Curiosity Quest at The Turtle Hospital
All together now:  "Awwwwwww."

One of the things that impressed them was the "Tubey Turtle."  One turtle at the hospital had lockjaw, and he was fed with a feeding tube.  Thankfully, the turtle was expected to make a full recovery, but they're always impressed with a fellow Tubey.

Luke found the mnemonic shared during the salmon episode catchy (pun unintended):

I'm really impressed with these videos.  Officially, they are geared for kids ages 7-14, and I do think that the bigger kids got more from these than the little boys.   That said, I think topic played a big role; animals = funny antics, picking oranges = not particularly thrilling.  They aren't the boys' favorite videos for watching in the car, but they're definitely something that will stay in the rotation to help us use our time on the road wisely.

Not every family spends so much time on the road; check out how other crew families used Curiosity Quest DVDs in their homeschool.

Click to read Crew Reviews

©2012- 2014 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Sharing Pinterest Party - Week 36

 Happy Sunday!  It's a new week and time for another party!

 How was your week?  I think we blogged until we couldn't blog any more -- have you caught up with our contribution to the Schoolhouse Crew Review's 5-Day Blog Hop?  Luke actually did most of the writing and I put on my Editor's hat.  He wrote a series about cooking, starting with how to plan your menu and ending with Tiramisu.  If you haven't had a chance to check it out, I hope you do.

Homeschool in the Kitchen April 2014 Blog Series

I'm excited for all of the pins shared last week.  In keeping with our cooking theme for the week, I'm featuring three food items.  Two are recipes, and one is an absolutely adorable Easter craft.

First is Beer Can Chicken from The Seasoned Mom.  I have to admit, as silly as it seems, it is something I've never tried.  One of these days, I will!
Beer Can Chicken

I don't usually like orange-flavored foods, but this Orange Cranberry Bread from Be the One actually is going on my to-make list as well.  It has a lot of fresh orange juice, so I think that it will be light and fresh and springy! It's gluten and dairy free, too so that means I only have to make one batch of treat for everyone!

 Orange Cranberry Bread

My last pick is just too adorable not to feature!  I have to admit, I've made my share of graham cracker gingerbread houses at Christmas, but never thought to make a birdhouse for my Easter Peeps!  Thank you, Yesterfood, for the brilliant idea!

Peeps House

 What have you been working on this week?  I hope you'll share!

©2012- 2014 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hey Mom, I'll Start Dinner (Review and Giveaway)

Our family was excited to try Hey Mom, I'll Start Dinner, a new cookbook by Cherilyn Dahlsten.  I am often at a loss when my children ask me to tell them how I cooked something -- I tell them that I just watched and helped my mother make that dish so many times that I just do it.  How much garlic or oregano?  "Some."  How much milk in the mashed potatoes?  I don't know, until the potatoes look right.  A lot of cooking really is by sight or feel or taste, but when you're first starting out, you don't have that instinct honed.  We've been hunting through cookbooks, from my 1920s-era reprinted Betty Crocker to 21st century Alton Brown, looking for simple recipes that will help the boys improve their cooking skills.  Hey Mom, I'll Start Dinner is written for kids, but it's not a child's cookbook.  The layout is simple and the directions broken down step by step, making it a good choice for new cooks.

Hey Mom, I'll Start Dinner Review

Cherilyn's cookbook takes a team approach to getting dinner to the table.  It's not just a parent making dinner, but the kids learning to work together with the parents as a family.  Some recipes can be started by a younger child - Cornbread batter (p. 88) can be measured and mixed by a child and Mom or Dad can handle the oven.  Some of the entrees may need a parent to get it started by grilling chicken breast, then letting the child reheat the meat with tomatoes, vegetables, and broth as Enchilada Soup (p. 44). 

One thing I appreciate is many of the recipes here are easily made gluten free. Either they are inherently gluten free (like the enchilada soup), or they are easily made gluten free (choosing gluten free pasta for the spaghetti or macaroni and cheese).  However, I was a little uncomfortable with oats being the choice for flour for many of the "gluten free" option.  Regular oats are notorious for being contaminated with other grains, so I really feel like there should be a note somewhere that says "Make sure you find ones that are certified gluten free."  If you're a gluten free family, you probably already know this, but if you're baking for a gluten free family and thinking, "Oh, I have a recipe marked gluten free," and don't follow oat farming practices, it could cause problems.

We made several recipes from the book. Among them, Luke made Spaghetti (p. 70) for dinner while Matthew adapted the Peanut Butter Cookies (p. 94) to use sunflower seed butter.  While both recipes turned out well, we had a few hiccups along the way.

Luke has been working on earning a Cooking/Home Ec credit for high school.  He has been learning the basics of cooking, from planning what you're going to make to reading the recipe completely before you get started.  He was really excited to make the spaghetti recipe - the sauce is a simple yet hearty Bolognese-style sauce.  However, I had to help him more than I expected I would have.  I handed him the cookbook and said, "Go." The directions stumped him, almost from the start.

 You can see the ingredient list, but the second step is "Set out the butter to soften."  He came to me saying, "Mom, I'm sorry...but I can't figure this out."  At first, neither could I.  Finally, I realized that on the facing page, it says "Suggested sides" and includes French Bread as an option.  We had seen that, but took it at face value - "French Bread" being a type of bread, and it would just be sliced and served alongside.  If you follow the directions, it actually has you buttering the bread and then heating the slices in the oven down in Step 23.  Step 3 says to "Get out a saucepan."  Most sauce pans, even large ones, have a maximum capacity of three or four quarts. A 4-quart saucepan is going to be cutting it really close for holding that much sauce once the meat is added back to the tomatoes.  In a way, I'm glad Step 2 was not clear to him, because then I caught this and said, "Wait, use one of the dutch ovens since it's bigger," or else we would had a huge mess.  The directions definitely could have been much clearer or pointed.  I would definitely recommend the parent reading the directions carefully ahead of time and making notes of any adjustments that may be necessary.

Matthew needed direct supervision and often an extra set of hands while he was cooking.  First we were adapting the recipe to be nut free, so we had to not only swap sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter, but also take the baking soda out (baking soda and sunflower butter in a baked item yields a harmless yet disconcerting green tinge).  He's also less experienced in the kitchen, and not quite ready to cook solo.  With a little bit of help, he got the cookies mixed up and into the oven. 
Pre-reading the recipe

Putting cookies on the sheet

Flattening the dough

A plate of yummy cookies

Because it is meant to be very streamlined and simplified,  many of the recipes rely on canned tomatoes, corn, beans, soup bases, and frozen items like spinach and corn.  This isn't necessarily bad, but if you are a family that sticks to whole, fresh, or unprocessed foods, you're going to be doing a lot more prep work to get your ingredients ready.  For example, every summer I put up plain, quartered tomatoes into quart jars.  (Neal arranges with some of our customers to get case boxes of plum tomatoes, and I put up about 100 pounds every year. I purposely do them "plain" so they can be used for any purpose - as a base for barbeque or Italian style sauces, or as a base for salsa, etc. depending on what is added to them when we're ready to use them.)  While it was  not difficult for Luke to crush the tomatoes and add Italian herbs to them, seasoned tomatoes aren't something we normally have on hand. I don't think that it's necessarily a dealbreaker, but it will mean that your child needs a little extra direction or a note in the margin for if he's cooking when you're not home if you prefer to use less processed versions of ingredients. 

Overall, we are happy with the cookbook.  While the boys might need a little extra assistance the first time they try a new recipe, it will likely be used often because of its simplicity and step-by-step directions. There are no fancy or intricate recipes - just simple, basic meal ideas that are good for beginning cooks.

 Hey Mom, I'll Start Dinner lists for $19.95.  It is available directly from the author's website or from   You can peruse a sample at

Cherilyn Dahlgren is offering my readers an eBook version of Hey Mom, I'll Start Dinner.  Enter below to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

©2012- 2014 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Mangia! Spaghetti Bolognese and Tiramisu (Homeschooling in the Kitchen)

Homeschooling in the Kitchen: "Mangia!" spaghetti bolongnese and tiramisu

This first recipe is easy.  It's adapted from a cookbook called Hey Mom, I'll Start Dinner by Cherilyn Dahlsten.  (Read our review!) I love spaghetti, so this was a recipe I was excited to try.

The second recipe is a lot of work and a lot of dishes.  However, it is totally worth it. 

Spaghetti Bolognese

Spagetti Bolongnese for beginners

Serves 8


Bolognese sauce
Adapted from Hey Mom, I’ll Start Dinner by Cherilyn Dahlsten

2 ½ pounds ground beef
2 quarts (32 ounces) plain canned plum tomatoes (whole or crushed; one 33 oz. can will do)
2 jars prepared pasta sauce
1-2 tablespoons garlic powder (If you are a garlic-loving family like mine, aim closer to 2).
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder

1. In a heavy Dutch Oven, brown ground beef. Cook until no longer pink.

2. Drain in a colander and rinse under hot water to remove excess grease. Set aside to drain.

3. Add tomatoes to the pot. (If you have whole tomatoes, crush them first.)

4. Add tomato sauce and spices. Stir to combine.

5. Return beef to the pan. Stir. Rinse colander.

6. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat while spaghetti cooks.


1 pound gluten free spaghetti (we like Ancient Harvest quinoa/corn pasta)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon salt

1. Fill a large (stock) pot half way with water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.

2. Add olive oil and salt to the boiling water.

3. Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions.

4. Drain cooked spaghetti in colander. (Watch your face!)

5.  Place a serving of spaghetti in a bowl and top with sauce.


Gluten free, dairy free tiramisu


8 eggs separated
1 ⅓ cups white sugar
2 cups gluten free flour mix
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form.

4. While still mixing, slowly add 4 tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until whites are stiff.

5. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and remaining sugar until thick and very pale.

6. Mix together flour, xanthan, and baking powder in a third bowl.

7. Fold half of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture to lighten it.

8. Fold flour mixture into mix.

9. Fold remaining egg whites into batter.

10. Transfer batter gently to a zip-top bag.

11. Snip the corner of the bag.

12. Pipe batter in approximately 3” strips onto the baking sheets. Leave about 1” between strips.

13. Bake 10 minutes or until very lightly browned.

14. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about ten minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.

Note: This makes more than you will need for the final tiramisu, so help yourself to one or two as a snack while you continue on.


 2-8 ounce tubs Daiya cream cheese
½ c shortening
16 ounces powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coconut milk

1. Combine cream cheese, shortening, and powdered sugar on low until combined.

2. Add vanilla and milk. Beat on medium-high until smooth and spreadable.

Espresso syrup
1 cup strong coffee
1 cup granulated sugar

1. Combine on low heat until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool


24 ladyfingers
Prepared filling
Espresso syrup
¼ cup cocoa powder
9”x13” baking pan

1. Pour espresso into a shallow dish.

2. Dip ladyfingers in espresso. Allow ladyfingers to lightly soak up mixture.

3. Put a layer of soaked ladyfingers in the bottom of the pan.

4. Top with half of the prepared filling.

5. Heavily sift cocoa powder on top of filling.

6. Repeat with a second layer of ladyfingers, and filling. Top with a light dusting of cocoa powder.


7. You can serve it immediately, but it will be very soft and spoonable. For a sliceable dessert, refrigerate 2 or more hours until firm.


Other posts in this series:
Real Men Make Quiche
Planning Meals
Food and Kitchen Safety
Mis en Place and other final prep 
Country Dinner (Braised BBQ Ribs & Hot Fudge Sundae Cake recipes)

April Blog Hop
This post is part of the Schoolhouse Crew Review 5-Day Blog Hop.  There are over 60 families blogging about just about everything homeschool related you can think of.   Here are some friends you might like to check out (and what they're writing about):

Nicole @ Journey to Excellence ~ Missouri
Dusty @ To the Moon and Back ~ Babywearing
Kristi @ The Potter's Hand Academy ~ Spring Studies
Jennifer @ Royal Little Lambs ~ Essential Oils
Annette @ A Net in Time ~ Science
Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker ~ Frugal Fitness
Meg @ Adventures with Jude ~ Homeschooling from the Kitchen
Lori @ At Home: where life happens ~ Favorite Books
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker ~ A Christ-Centered Home

If you have a few extra minutes and would like to check out all of the blogs in the hop, click on the banner at the left!

©2012- 2014 Adventures with Jude. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other
content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Supercharged Science (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Supercharged Science #homeschool #science curriculum

 Aurora Lipper  - a real live rocket scientist - has created Supercharged Science, a hands-on homeschool science curriculum covering everything from anatomy to astrophysics!  Don't let the topic range intimidate you - the e-Science Learning Program is for all students, from as young as pre-K'ers to the oldest high schoolers.  There's something here for everyone.  When we reviewed this program last year, Jude and Matthew did most of the experimenting.  This year, Jude had another turn, but I was hoping that since our e-Science Premium membership included the high school level ($57/mo; their K-8 option is $37/mo), Damien (now a PK'er) and Luke (10th grade) would be able to benefit from the program.

If you're using it as a standalone curriculum, there are two ways to use the program.  One is to go topic-by-topic, starting with Unit Zero (an introduction to the e-Science program) and work your way through the 20+ units of the program this way.  The other is sort the ideas  by grade level - from PK/K to "Advanced" for high schoolers, and work within the topics you have access to each month.  (If you'd like the entire grade-level curriculum "unlocked," again, an email request will make that happen.) I found this worked well for Damien, because it helped me find projects that were more geared toward him without having to wade through more advanced experiments that were more suited to Luke's level.  It also winnowed down the concepts that were expected for that age level - for example, Earth Science that introduces the concepts of the stars and the moon, and Life Science that sticks more to identifying plant parts (root, stem, leaves, flower) than learning whether the plant is a monocot or a dicot.

Supercharged Science can also be used as an adjunct to many curricula.  (Click here to see a full listing of the curricula that the program has already matched with their units.)  Luke is using one program that is on their list (Apologia's high school chemistry program), while Jude is using one that is not (Science 4 Us).  Supercharged Science is happy to create a correspondence chart for any curriculum upon request - you just need to send them the Table of Contents from your text.  Since Jude's program is web-based and text-less, I just matched things up by topics -- for example, when we worked on Energy, I looked at units that taught energy to find experiments he would enjoy.  When you join the program, you are given access to the first two units (100 experiments) and then two more units each subsequent month.  However, if there is a unit you'd like access to sooner (for example, Luke's Apologia Module 2 corresponded with Supercharged Science Unit 13), all it takes is an e-mail to Supercharged Science to give you access to the units you need.

In addition, Supercharged Science works not only with lots of different curricula, but simultaneously for all ages.

Supercharged Science topics by grade
You can see how there is overlap between the different grades.  While the concepts begin as broad introductions and then become more detailed as the child progresses, you can see how Damien, Jude and Luke were able to do several science labs together.  While Jude just helped with the experiment, I added depth for Luke by requiring him to complete the entire unit plus a formal lab report. 
There were a few experiments that Damien enjoyed (for example, making Moon Sand using a non-Newtonian fluid (cornstarch + water) and sand), but he really didn't get as much "science" out of the program as his brothers, and took things more at face value.For first grader Jude, there was plenty to do without getting bogged down in the details that were over his head, and plenty of room to "grow into" the program as he gets older.  There are enough labs for each concept (at least 4-5) that I feel like we could come back to levels we've already seen and not feel like we're doing something "again" - we'll just choose a different experiment.  The program is meant to be student-guided, and I think for an older elementary or middle schooler, it definitely could be.  Most of the labs need only a moderate amount of supervision.  (If Jude wasn't involved, I would be more inclined to just let Luke do labs independently.) 

The program seemed a bit awkward at the high school level.  On one hand, the program was a good source of simple experiments that we could do at home, along with explanations of "how" and "why," but I don't feel the regular course goes far enough into scientific theory to consider a full high school course.  There are "Advanced" texts, but in some cases, these are almost too much information - good for the student who has a passion for a particular scientific topic, but overwhelming for the average student. With that said, I do think it is worthwhile supplement for a child who learns better from video and hands-on explanations as opposed to textbook reading.

Supercharged eScience Review

Among the experiments we completed was one from the unit on Thermodynamics.  Our experiment's question was "Which container of ice will melt faster?"  Luke and I were both fairly confident that the black paper would trigger faster melting, but didn't share this with Jude. By using different color construction paper beneath the containers of ice, we were able to see how dark colors absorb thermal energy and light ones reflect it. He hypothesized that the black one would melt more because when he put his hand on the black paper it felt warmer to the touch.  The container of ice on the black paper did indeed melt faster than the one on the white, proving this theory.

Supercharged Science Thermodynamice experiment
(Jude got to set up the experiment, while Luke observed.  I figure that by sophomore year of high school, Luke has mastered putting paper on the ground.  We put three ice cubes in each container, and I'm pretty sure that "counting to three" is a prerequisite for Algebra II, so he's good there, too.) 

While we were at it, Jude decided he wanted to see what happened if you put ice on black asphalt but NOT in the sun.

It melted even more slowly than the ice on the white. We learned was without the sun shining directly on it, it didn't get exposed to as much heat, or thermal energy, as the containers in direct sunlight, so the ice couldn't melt as fast.

There are some slightly more "dangerous" ones geared to big kids, but we stuck to the simpler ones.  Given Jude keeps asking, "What can I blow up?" plus has trouble focusing long enough to pay attention to in-depth directions, I figured it might be safer NOT to give him too much in the way of chemicals and stick to simpler experiments.

Remember how I said Aurora was a real-live rocket scientist?  It's true. She is a brilliant scientist who has worked for NASA and taught college level sciences.  You'd think that would make this really boring.  WRONG! She really believes that the key to getting (and keeping!) kids involved in science is to make it fun.  She leads many of the videos in the program, and her enthusiasm really shines through.  Normally the program costs $37/mo for the K-8 program, and $57/mo for K-12 access.  Instead of paying for a full month up front, she's offering a special $1 deal that includes both full access to the program for a month and a DVD with extra programs.  Aurora wants science to be something your child looks forward to and not see as a dreaded chore.

Supercharged Science lives up to its promise of being a program that turns science upside down.  Instead of reading about the idea and maybe doing an experiment, the experiments are a central part of the program and bring it to life! It's a program to intrigue a budding scientist, or to help really bring ideas home to an older student.  Our family is definitely super-charged about science because of this curriculum!

Want to know what other young scientists thought about Supercharged Science? Click the banner below!

Click to read Crew Reviews

A Schoolhouse Crew Review from Adventures with Jude

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