Science is a favorite subject around here. If AJ had her way we would do science all day. She loves the experiments, the pictures, and learning new things, she doesn’t like all of the reading though. When we were given the opportunity to review an amazing science curriculum from Visual Learning Systems, I was hopeful that it would be the perfect product. I was given a year long subscription for both the Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition Grades K-5 and the Digital Science Online: Secondary Edition Grades 6-12. We looked around the elementary edition, but decided to use the secondary edition.
What is Digital Science Online?
Digital Science Online is a video based science program created by Visual Learning Systems. It includes videos that can be watched all at once which takes about 20 minutes, or watched in segments that are only a few minutes long. To go along with the videos there are; animations, images and teachers guides. The teachers guides include a copy of the video transcript, learning objectives, student activities, and answer keys. Student activities include a pretest, a video review, post test, vocabulary, and other activities that vary depending on the topic.
The Secondary Edition is for grades 6-12 and is broken up into six sections of science; physical science, earth science, life science, integrated science, health, and biology. Each section is then further broken down into topics. The program is completely online and can be accesses from any device with internet capabilities. The teacher guides and student activities are downloadable and need to be printed out to be used.
How did we use it?
We finished our study on geology right before this science curriculum arrived. We wanted to continue with earth science so we dove right in with the topic of oceanography. I printed off the student activity worksheets and the answer key and then we got started. We don’t test very often, so when AJ saw that there was both a pretest and a post test she was a little nervous. I gave her the pretest and she was overwhelmed. We hadn’t ever studied the oceans before so she didn’t know very many answers. She was frustrated, so we decided to skip the pretests for the rest of the units.
Then we watched the videos about oceanography. We watched them straight through. She loved the videos! They were entertaining, and full of information. After the video she filled out the video review worksheet.
The next day we watched two of the short videos again and then did a few fun activities. She completed three different science experiments to learn about pressure, salinity and density, and temperature and density.
The following day we watched three different short videos again and then did a few experiments about waves.
The next week we watched the short video about the ocean floor again. After refreshing her memory she read about the ocean floor and then drew a diagram of it. She finished up the day with a vocabulary worksheet.
On the final day of our oceanography study she did a reading comprehension worksheet about ocean animals. Then we went through all of the animations to make sure she remembered all of the key topics. Finally, she took the post test. It was 20 questions, ten true and false questions and ten fill in the blank questions. She aced it!
The study was really interesting and in-depth. She had a lot of hands on fun and really seemed to grasp the concepts. After our study on oceanography was over, we continued with the water theme and learned about freshwater. We explored a few other topics including climate, mapping, and atmosphere. Each day was different and each topic had different student activities. Some topics had more hands on activities and others had more worksheets and graphing activities.
There is not a set sequence to follow when using this program. You can pick and choose what topic to learn about and even which type of science to study. The program is very easy to navigate, everything is laid out and it is easy to find what you are looking for. There is a student log in where they have access to everything except the teachers guide and then a parent log in. I decided to just use the parent log in since I was doing the lessons with her.
What did we think?
Prior to finding Digital Science Online we were just doing lapbooks based on different science topics because I couldn’t find a curriculum that I really liked. I have found one I love now! This was the perfect curriculum for AJ. She learns really well from videos, and instead of supplementing with videos, the majority of the learning is taking place by watching the videos. The videos were well made and the narration was clear and easy to understand. I also love the fact that there is an offline component to the program. It includes some reading and writing, but not too much. AJ found the activities exciting, and I found that she was really retaining the information. The best part is that it is flexible and easy to customize to fit your learning. If you don’t like an activity, you can skip it. Want to add in a few extra science experiments that you found on Pinterest, go ahead. You can also search for a topic. If you are learning about fish and want to learn a little more, you can type “fish” into the search box and it will bring up any videos, animations, or photos on the topic. It really is flexible!
There were only two thing that I didn’t care for. First is that it is a secular based program, there are topics on evolution, and almost all of the geology topics talked about the earth being millions of years old. I didn’t find that to be too big of an issue though, it gave us a chance to reinforce why we believe what we believe. Right now the list of science topics are in alphabetical order. I think that if they were grouped by topic instead (geology, weather, astronomy exec) it would be easier to see which topics went together.
Overall we love Digital science. We plan to continue to use it for the rest of this year and then next year as well. I do plan to add in a few library books on the topics we are studying just to add in a little bit more reading, but that wouldn’t be necessary. If you have a visual learner or a child who likes to watch videos, this may be the perfect science program for you. Take a look at the sample lessons and see what you think. It is really a good deal, and I would absolutly recommend it. One product, either the elementary (k-5) or secondary level (6-12) , can cover all of your students (up to 8) for a full year of science even if you want them to work on different topics. For homeschoolers the cost is $99.