Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A TOS Review: Fascinating Biology!

It was a happy day I got to join the Schoolhouse Review Crew. For one, Josiah hasn't had to rely on  my own rather pitiful science opinions.

As far as I am concerned there is are little elves pushing and pulling levers in my head. This is why I have a insatiable urge for Chocolate. And sparkly things.

You do realize I am kidding. Pretty much.

Josiah really enjoys Science and I am always happy to find a product that takes the heavy lifting from my job description. We were recently given the opportunity to review the Fascinating Biology course from Fascinating Education.

Fascinating Education is an online science education resource. We had Biology, Chemistry and Physics to chose from.

The teaching philosophy behind Fascinating Education is really interesting. Creator, Dr. Margulies approaches science through the right hemisphere of the brain. The courses don't rely on written text. Dr. Margulies uses bright and interesting visual along with audio for each lecture.

Fascinating Education assumes the student knows absolutely nothing about the course (physics, biology or chemistry). Clear and easily understood language is used and each lesson follows a story line. Confusing terminology is minimized and concepts are explained using everyday life.

The courses are intended for High Schoolers, but Dr. Margulies assures us that middle school students will enjoy the curriculum as well.  Each course is available for one year for $79.

We chose to take Biology for this review, but it is recommended that a student begins with Fascinating Chemistry. There is a subset of Fascinating Chemistry that can be taken by students who just absolutely want to head right into Fascinating Biology. There is a $20 add-on fee.

This is not specifically Creation Science. In fact, Fascinating Education wants to remain neutral. We firmly believe in Creation Science, but are not opposed to presented other theories...just as long as they are presented as theories and not as fact.

I want to take just a minute and talk to you about how the curriculum works and how we used it.

You can find the course outline here. 

Josiah worked on with the curriculum 3 days a week. It is not hard to navigate. This is the screen he sees when he clicks on his course. The red tabs will take the student to the lesson itself. The blue tab brings up a script of the lesson and the yellow tab goes to the test. Each tab brings up a separate window.

This screen shot is of the very first lesson "What is Life." The pictures flash on the screen while Dr. Margulies narrates. I think he has a nice easy manner about him. You can see there is a list on the left hand of the screen. These are the sub topics within the lesson. The student is able to click them separately if needed (which was needed in our case quite often). There is also a glossary tab.

This is a view of the script for "What is Life?" It comes up as a PDF. I also like how it is labeled by slide. We didn't utilize this feature very often. Josiah is dyslexic and he does better when he can see and hear the information.

This is just a view of another lesson slide. There is obviously more topics in this particular lesson.

And the test. The test taker does not pass the test unless he or she scores 80%....which I think is just fine. I like the mastery part of this method. However, sometimes Josiah had to take the test several times.

This is really an idea way for Josiah to learn. We are probably going through the lessons at a slower pace that everyone else. I am giving him one lesson a week. For example, when it was time for Lesson 3: The Cell Membrane, Josiah watched that particular lesson each day he studied Science. I also allowed him to take the test as often as he needed to. I believe that the lesson length depends on what course you are taking. Fascinating Biology had lessons as long as 1 hour. I think the Fascinating Chemistry lessons are just a bit shorter and the Fascinating Physics lessons are longer. Josiah is in 7th grade and has had fairly short lessons up til now. Thankfully, the lectures are interesting with lots of fun information and colorful pictures.

He does better when he hears or sees information multiple times. It tends to get in his brain for good.

There doesn't seem to be a record keeping system. I am not so concerned with that at this point, but I can imagine that most homeschool parents would benefit from a record keeping feature. It is suggested that the parent prints off the tests and keeps records that way.

Personally, I would also like to see a "lab" or hands-on activity available every once in a while. I was glad to read that those are coming within the next 3-6 months, Yay!

I need to talk a little bit about the Periodic Table. I took 2 years of Chemistry in High School. I don't remember much (I was probably daydreaming about little elves feeding me chocolate). I do wish I would have mastered the Periodic Table facts. I was happy to see that a big emphasis is put on the Periodic Table. I had to have science in college, of course, and it would have helped tremendously if I would have had a better foundation.

This is going to sound extremely self-serving, but I am thrilled because I don't have to do any kind of prep. All we need is a working computer with sound, an internet connection and a subscription. I have read all of Josiah's lessons to him for years. I like having someone take up the mantle.

This curriculum is a keeper!

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