Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fascinating Biology {A TOS Review}

     This past month we had the opportunity to use and review Fascinating Biology.  This is one of the middle school/high school courses offered from the online company Fascinating Education. Fascinating Education has three different science curriculum that they offer:  Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  Each course is available with one year access for $79 per course. 

     When I was asked to review this science course with my children, I was very excited.  This course did not look like your typical high school science course.  It appeared to be more then an overview,  diving into the meat of the Biology.  Understanding and grasping the concepts of mitosis, meiosis, and even the ATP cycle in high school, is very important if a student wants to pursue further science courses later on.  This course looked like something that would benefit my science oriented high schooler, as well as my two middle school children.

    Let me just interject my personal experience with you.  This negative experience is something I do not want to see repeated in my own children. Even though I enjoyed science myself in high school and graduated with a 3.9 GPA, ( a very long time ago:); I was not adequately prepared to handle the fast pace of university science classes.

     After my first semester of Biology and Chemistry courses, I was failing miserably.  (Don't worry I didn't drop out of college all together, but it did take me 6 years before I graduated with my BSRN degree!)  This was not a fun, nor inexpensive eye opener for me at the time. It was very discouraging to say the least. I think the reason I did not succeed initially in my university science courses, was because I could not keep up with the pace of the classes. 

 I did not have enough of a grasp of the foundational concepts to master the more advanced science material. 

Should my children choose to enroll in higher level science courses, I do not want them to have this experience and be at a disadvantage like I was.   Because of the experience I had, I feel it is very important to give my younger students a firm foundation in all of the subjects they study.

     So, did this on-line course prove to be the solution?  At this point in my review I can honestly say I think so:) It has a large amount of advanced material.  Combining this course with labs and interactive notebooks will help my kids get a firm grasp on the basic concepts.  That is exactly what I plan to do.   As an additional benefit, I have been learning a ton as well!

     Although Lesson 1 is not from a Biblical creation perspective, it was a good conversation starter to talk about the common scientific view of the origin of life.  We then moved on to lesson 2, chemistry review.

     I thought we would just wiz right through chemistry since we have already completed a middle school chemistry course.  Nope, they failed the chemistry test and were pretty discouraged.  That told me that my students chemistry knowledge was not sufficient.  Really, some of these concepts are very abstract - like molecules and atoms.  I mean you can't even see them, right?!  I really think it is hard for many students to grasp these concepts.  After seeing my kids response to lesson 2, I then contacted Fascinating Education to share my concern with continuing the course.  They were very supportive and didn't want my children to be discouraged because they had failed the test.  They happily offered us the chemistry pre-course to help my children succeed. Can you say, "awesome customer service!"?

     We then preceded to take the "chemistry pre-course for biology".  This course was a perfect review of elements and molecular bonds.  The course is laid out so simply with photos to help them understand the elements on a more day to day basis.  Each element was outlined briefly, showing where we see it in our world around us.  After lesson 1, we took the test (there is a test after each lesson). Their average score was 80% - woo hoo - success.  This boosted their understanding and morale - they were more willing to continue on.:)

     Below is a picture of the Fascinating Chemistry dashboard.  This is exactly what our Chemistry pre-course dashboard looks like.  We have been working our way thorough all of the lessons and have been getting in depth teachings about molecules and bonding.

     Dr. Margulies has a very soothing voice and talks at a slow understandable pace.  Although the lessons are engaging, the visual pictures in the scripted presentation need to move at a much faster pace.  This is only thing I think this program could improve on.   Students in this fast paced technology world are accustomed to being visually stimulated constantly.  If visual images that flashed before the students eyes,  were about 10 seconds apart, I think it would be able to keep the students attention event though the subject is complex.  Overall, I think this a very well thought out and in depth science program.  I don't have a high school AP course outline in front of me, but if I were to guess I would say that the content exceeds the AP level of information.

     If you are interested in these online science courses for your students, be sure to check out what other members of the crew had to say about it.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Thanks for traveling with us:)

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