Friday, May 29, 2015

Exploration Education Physical Science Advanced {Homeschool Review}

Often when I write a product review, I base my opinion on using the product for six or eight weeks. This year we used nearly all of Exploration Education's Physical Science Advanced program before I finalized the review. I'm just as pleased with the program after more than thirty weeks of lessons as I was when Brennan first started using it last fall.

I've had a hard time picking a science program for Brennan. He's not an avid reader so I don't want something that was very reading intensive. In addition, I'm not necessarily a very organized homeschool mom. I like the idea of hands-on projects, but I'm often frustrated with trying to gather all the necessary supplies.

Exploration Education has proven to be the perfect balance of text-based materials, online videos, written assignments and hands-on projects.

The material covered in the Physical Science Advanced Version progresses at a steady pace. It is divided into eight major sections with 36 separate chapters. (The lengthy list of topics covered in Physical Science Advanced Version is available on the Exploration Education website.) Each chapter covers a single topic over the course of five separate lessons for a total of 180 daily lessons. The Teacher's Manual contains quarterly tests, and review materials for these tests is built into the regularly scheduled lessons.

The curriculum set comes neatly packaged in a small box which contains a Student Logbook, a Teacher's Manual, and the supplies required to complete the daily hands-on activities. The only additional item I needed to buy this year was a glue gun and glue sticks. A few common household items were also used, but they were so common and so easily found that Brennan didn't even need my help to track them down.

Each day's assignment included a brief lesson accessed through the Exploration Education website. Sometimes the material was all written, but other times brief video demonstrations were included. In the bottom picture, the planets are shown orbiting the sun, not remaining stationary.

After learning the new materials, several questions are asked of the student. Multiple choice questions allow the student to answer on the computer and check the answers before recording them in their logbook. At other times, the student is asked to record their answer to short answer questions. The correct answers for each lesson are found in the Teacher's Manual.

The final part of nearly every day's lesson is a hands-on activity. Some of the activities are simple activities to illustrate a concept, while others are larger projects that take several days (or weeks) to complete.

The Student Logbook teaches students to write simple lab reports with sections for Observation, Hypothesis, Experiment, and Theory (or Conclusion).  At other times, the student was required to write a complete lab report similar to the ones I remember from my own high school classes.

The hands-on activities truly set Exploration Education apart as a superior physical science curriculum. Brennan didn't just read about speed and velocity; he used his battery operated racer to collect data and make his own calculations. He experienced inertia by starting and stopping the racer and watching a penny fly off. He built electrical circuits, an electromagnet, a model house (with lights), a solar powered fan, and more.

Exploration Education gave Brennan a thorough introduction to Physical Science this year with so many wonderful hands-on projects that he couldn't help but learn the concepts. Having all his supplies provided in the curriculum box ensured that he was always ready to work and wasn't putting off the projects until I had a chance to gather the supplies. My only real disappointment is that Exploration Education only offers Physical Science courses. I wish I could order another box for next year and continue using this convenient hands-on approach to learning other major science fields.

The Physical Science Advanced Version costs $144.95 for the complete set. Additional sets of project materials or logbooks are available to purchase separately. We used this program for Brennan's eighth grade science class, and it is said to be suitable for 7th through 10th graders. They also offer packages containing many of the same hands-on activities for both younger and older elementary students.

Disclaimer: I received a discount on this product in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

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