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Monday, November 3, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Fascinating Education

Fascinating Education Review
Fascinating Education uses a unique education approach by teaching science through the right hemisphere of the brain.  Colorful illustrations enhanced with audio are the main teaching tools that are supplemented with a printed copy of the video script.  We recently have had an opportunity to use and review Fascinating Chemistry
Fascinating Education Review
Fascinating Chemistry is for middle and high school students.  The program is an online program that does not require anything downloaded onto your computer.  Using your username and password, you can log into any computer that is convenient to you.  Fascinating Education assumes that the students know nothing about the topic they are learning (in this case chemistry) and seeks to present the material in understandable chunks, slowly and clearly, using situations that apply to real life.  The Chemistry course is broken down into 18 different lessons:

Lesson One: Intramolecular Bonding
Lesson Two: The Ionic Bond
Lesson Three: The Covalent Bond
Lesson Four: The Polar Covalent Bond
Lesson Five: The Metallic Bond Part One
Lesson Six: The Metallic Bond Part Two
Lesson Seven: Heat
Lesson Eight: Air Pressure
Lesson Nine: Properties of Water
Lesson Ten: The Mole
Lesson Eleven: Gases
Lesson Twelve: Solutions
Lesson Thirteen: Chemical Reactions
Lesson Fourteen: Orbitals
Lesson Fifteen: Electrochemistry
Lesson Sixteen: Polymers
Lesson Seventeen: The Nucleus
Lesson Eighteen: Final Problems

Each lesson contains a video as the main component.  The videos vary in length but are each around 45 minutes long.  To go along with the lessons there is a PDF copy of the text of the video if you prefer to read along or read the script again after completing the video.  Each lesson also has a test at the end of the lesson.  After completing the test and receiving the score you have the ability to see which answers you got correct and incorrect, go over those answers, and retest if you wish.  Fascinating Chemistry does not store test scores, but you do have the ability to print and save your scores.  There is also a PDF option for tests and answer keys for parents that prefer to administer the tests themselves. There is not a lab for every lesson, but Fascinating Chemistry does have labs for lessons 2,3,6,7,8,9 and 11 that you can access under a secondary password.  Some of those lessons have more than one lab.

In addition to Fascinating Chemistry, Fascinating Education also offers a Fascinating Biology and Fascinating Physics course.  Registration for one course for one year is $79.  Two courses for a full year is $125 and all three courses for two full years is $175.

Fascinating Education Review
I used Fascinating Chemistry mostly with my 12 year old 7th grade son, but my 10 and 9 year olds also watched the lessons with us.  We completed one lesson per week.  The way the program best worked out for us was to split up watching the video segments into two days.  We would watch half the video and then go back over it reading aloud the video script.  The next day we would watch the second half and read over the script.  The third day we we would watch the sections going over the key points of the lesson and take the test.  After taking the test we went back over the ones we got wrong and then took the test again.  As a side note, we do not usually test and when we went over the test and then took it again, my son asked me if this was considered cheating.  I told him my that I wanted him to look over what he got wrong and understand it so no it is not cheating to retake a test when the importance is on making sure we understood the concept.

I really liked the visual aspect of this course.  The slides that were used in the video were very colorful, clearly demonstrated what was being said in the video, and kept the interest of even my nine year old.   I loved the real life examples that were used in the course and that they were things that the children could relate to.  We never expected to see Spiderman in a chemistry video!  I like that the course teaches from the ground up and assumes no prior knowledge at all.  The course also keeps track of where you left off making it easy to stop in the middle of the lesson if you need/want to do so.  Each of the lessons are packed full of information.  For us at the middle school level (and a few younger tag alongs) it was  a lot to absorb all at once (which is why I split up the lessons the way I did.)  But, for high school age students I think it would be easier to absorb it all at once.

I wish there was a written component to the course.  The visual aspect is great.  It does a quick review of the highlights of each lesson at the end of the video which I like.  I like that they include a copy of the written script for each lesson. They are adding in some labs ( I would like to see a lab for every lesson especially if I were using it for high school.)  But I would like to see some printable review worksheets that the students could use after viewing the lesson and before completing the test.

I do have to wonder if these courses are enough for high school.  They do contain a lot of information.  But, when counting for high school credits the standard usually is 150-180 hours spent on a course for full credit.  There is less than 18 hours of video for the chemistry course.  Labs would give you maybe another 18 hours if there was at least an hour lab for each lesson, plus some time writing lab reports.  Reading through the scripts for the videos and studying for the tests would add in some more time, but it still is not going to get close to that 150 hours.  If I were using this  using for high school credit I would definitely add in extra reading and labs to spend enough time for a full credit.

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