Saturday, August 3, 2013

Science4Us Review

About the Program:

The Science4Us curriculum is a complete, standards-based, core science curriculum that delivers digital science experiences to early elementary students. Digital learning can have a positive effect on students’ conceptual and procedural knowledge as well as their motivation to learn. In addition, science understanding, literacy and ultimately, academic gains, can be achieved through the use of computer-based programs that provide opportunities for digital explorations and virtual investigations. Science4Us provides foundational science knowledge in a way that truly engages the learner and will lead more students to reach for the STEM-related jobs and industries of the future.
The mission of Science4Us is to provide a solid foundation of fundamental science concepts for students in their formative years, on which a deep understanding and interest in science can be built. In order to achieve our goal, Science4Us realizes that the teacher is an integral part of our mission. Without the proper resources and support, teachers often struggle to single-handedly provide the foundation early elementary students need. The Science4Us curriculum includes pedagogical and content training for teachers, embedded and on-demand, that does not require a large time commitment like the typical professional development structures. By providing all of the support that teachers with no time or budget need to confidently and effectively lead science lessons, Science4Us has many hands in working towards our goal.
Science4Us Science Activities
My Review:
Science4Us is an early elementary science programed geared for Kindergarten thru 2nd grade. This program focuses on 5E Instructional Modules for teaching concepts to your children. The 5'E module consists of these elements:

Engage: This is were they test your child's previous exposure to a concept/idea. They take notes, fill in charts, make graphs and watch videos and read stories to introduce the concept and see what your child knows and what he/she needs to practice on.
Explore: This is the section were you children play to learn. The new concept is introduced further and as they come to understand what that concept means and how to apply it.
Explain: here we introduce vocabulary and clear concept information
Elaborate: In depth learning describes this section best
Evaluate: Here your child's knowledge of the concept will be assessed.

The programs main page is separated into Accounting Tools , Teaching Tools and Student View. The Accounting Tools is were you go to set your student up and access your account. The Student View is , of course, where you can view the account from your child's perspective. The Teaching Tools, my personal favorite spot holds the following pieces if information:
  • View Assignments
  • Student Reports-This is the one stop shop for all things student related. Here you can check out how long your child spent on lessons, how many lessons they have worked, lat time they logged in, what work they have saved and any open activities they need to complete. My favorite things on this section though is the comments area. When you click on your child's "saved work" you can actually leave comments in their notebook. My youngest son loved waiting for his positive feedback.
  • Lessons Plans- I really enjoyed the hands on materials, the worksheets and the games that went along with each module. The Lesson Plan Overview section was my life source. Here I found everything that I needed for the module I was going to teach. I got the module Description, Core concepts, Essential Vocabulary, Professional Development ideas, how many lessons were in the session along with how long each session should take to complete. The thing I liked the best though was how east it was to flip through each session in the lesson from this one page! I could preview each session, get extra details about the individual sessions, teacher support and offline materials were all here in this one very convenient spot. I have tried other programs similar to this where you had to go from screen to screen and back and forth to get the information you needed to teach one session, but this program has all sessions in one spot! LOVED IT. From this same section I could also view related modules that would be beneficial to explore upon completion. and assign my students as well for each lesson/session.
  • Student View-Here you can see what your kids see. You can view by module type such as physical, life, earth & space or inquiry. This was pretty handy for me because sometimes I get a little carried away with how much work I assign and I don't realize it till I view it from their perspective.
There were 2 other parts of this program that I really believe need to be mentioned that really stood out to me. The first thing I would like to touch on are the activity descriptions. These were so useful to both myself and my kids. I would print these off and my kids would circle 4-5 things they really wanted to do, some base don pictures, some based on the description and I could add activities they wanted and thought would be fun to the lesson plan. I am all about letting my kids get engaged in their learning and planing it and this was a neat took to be able to use to help them feel in control of how they were spending their time learning. It made the lessons go by smoother and they looked forward to getting to pick. If there was something they really did not like that I thought they should know, I would watch that section and we would do it on the dry erase board or with activity sheets instead, or if they really understood the concept, we would skip it all together. The second item is the Teaching Strategies. This resource had some really great tips to working with different learning styles to help reinforce literacy skills and let your kids do some self assessing. It touched on fluency, main idea and supporting ideas, cause and effect, writing skills, compare and contrast, categorize and classify, vocabulary, and so much more. A word of caution though here. If you are like me and tend to want to use everything because they all sound great, try and pick just one or two and mix them up each work so you get the full program use without overwhelming your kids and having them hate the program.

Initially when I set my kids up for this program I had them work individually,but quickly found out they got more out of it when I let them do it together and monitored how well each one was picking up concepts. When it came down to it I did not care what account they used, just so long as they enjoyed learning and it stuck with them!

Now for the dislikes. What I did not like about the program is the change in volume from one speaker to the next. The animated character would be one level and the instructions were almost always softer and harder to hear. Also, on some of the activities it tells you to select an answer that best describes something, such as the fastest surface, but it does not tell you the name of each surface and the pictures are not very clear. It also started to annoy my kids that you cannot do any movement when the narrator is speaking, even if the directions have been given and they are just cheering you on, you have to wait for them to stop talking.

Demos from the website:

Purchasing Information: You can purchase Science4Us for as little as $7.95 per student, per month or ($95.40 per student per year) by clicking here or group pricing rates are available as well.

Try for free for 30 days and see if you don't fall in love with Science4Us!
# of students

Yearly Price 30 - 99
100 - 299
300 - 999
1,000 - 4,999
5,000 + $12 /student
$10 /student
$  8 /student
$  6 /student
$  5 /student
Recommendation: My kids and I all loved this program. It was engaging, educational and made learning fun for them. I would recommend this program based on content and how well my kids enjoyed it. the only deterring factor for our family was the price. It is a little too steep in my opinion especially when you have more than one child. If the price was closer to $50 a year per child it would be more affordable, but if you have better finances then I do, go and get this program, you won't be disappointed!!

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