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May 24, 2016

Science Shepherd TOS Review

Though science is not one of my stronger subjects, the boys love it, especially Xav.  He would science the day away.  He's very hands on.  Mal enjoys videos and a little hands on, with the right projects.  Merrick just likes to be involved.  When the opportunity to review Science Shepherd's Biblically based Introductory Science curriculum came up, I had some excited guys.

Dr. Scott Hardin developed Science Shepherd when, as a homeschool dad, other homeschool parents began to voice concerns about advanced science education for their high schoolers.  Life science and biology courses were created to fill that need.  Now, Introductory Science is available for ages six to eleven.

Introductory Science is available in two levels; A for ages 6-8 and B for ages 9-11.  Ages don't mean a whole lot to me as a homeschooler with a special needs guy.  I prefer to know the actual grade level the workbooks are intended to be used by.  Conveniently, there is a one day video sample, a full week workbook sample for both levels, and the scope and sequence available on the Introductory Science webpage.

What are the components of Introductory Science?
  • Streaming video course for 35 "weeks" of lessons
  • Workbook, level A or B for each child
  • Workbook Answer Key for level A or B for your family
The combination is a great plan for audio or visual or kinesthetic learners and those who enjoy workbooks, which pretty much will cover every one of your kids.

The videos remind me of a news anchor at his desk, with videos and still shots behind him.  There are no songs or flashing lights or other overstimulating things happening.  The information is interesting, because let's face it, creation is pretty interesting.  Each day's film is short, just a few minutes in length.  Some weeks have bonus videos for activities.  The activities are easy to complete without running around town looking for the necessary components.

The workbooks are a spiral bound softcover.  We received Level B which is 383 pages.  Level A has nearly the same content, as far as I could tell, but B has a few more questions on each day and a review puzzle at the end of the week.  Questions are mostly fill in the blank posed as multiple choice and matching.  There are word searches and crossword puzzles as well.

The answer key is a 41-page paperback.

The pine cone bird feeder after the wildlife found them.  Yum!  The classifying flowers activity.
How did we use it?

The videos are short, so we quickly morphed into watching a full week at a time.  Some weeks they'd watch the videos one day and do the activities the next.  Some weeks we did everything in one day.  Everyone was able to watch the videos together, Xav would do the workbook pages while Mal worked on another subject or helped with the activities.

We also did not go straight through from week 1 to week 2 and so on.  We jumped around a bit to whatever was most interesting to the boys.  The first few chapters presented creation and the basics of scientific experimentation.  We didn't get the physical books as quickly as streaming was available, so we finished the sample of week 8's workbook that I was able to print from the website.  Then we watched week 1 and 2.  When the book arrived, we started with chapter three and four then headed to the back of the book to learn about anatomy which was a great follow up to the movement and muscles class I taught at co-op this year.

What did we think?

Xavier says:
I liked the experiment to see if the hammer was stronger than the egg by banging them together.  The hammer won!
 Mal says:
I liked the girls that did science experiments at home and we could do some of them, too.
Personally, I don't think level B is challenging enough for upper elementary.  Based on what I've seen, the books are very similar.  I think fill in the blanks with a word bank can be an appropriate activity, *if* the answers aren't obvious.  For example, you might have the sentence
Our skeletal system ____ ____ ____ and is made up of ____. (Circle the answer below)
Followed by the choices
  • chews our food, muscles
  • is very small, systems
  • holds us up, bones
I see nonsensical answers that most children in the upper elementary levels would be able to easily grasp after watching the daily video.  Pairing them up has also simplified the thought process.  If one of the two choices is obviously incorrect, they don't even have to consider the second half of the answer.  Most fourth to sixth graders would be able to consider each blank with individual choices.  Also, at that age, they are more than capable of writing the correct answers in each space.  I actually had Xav do that most of the time.

Also, you almost won't *need* the answer book, especially if you're in the room during the video lesson.  I've used it a few times, just so I could tell you about it.  Beyond that, I only had to look up one answer involving the inner ear on a day I did not see the video lesson.

Introductory Science is heavy on creation and young earth, straddling the line between a Biblical based science course and science based Bible lessons.  This is not a criticism, I just want to be clear that it is stressed throughout the lessons.  I think, if you are looking for young earth science for a child in K-3rd, this would be a good science course for your child.  I would choose level B for a 3rd grader, for sure.

This is also the most comforting homeschool science curriculum I have ever seen.  We heard many times how much God loves us and that we are a special creation made in His own image.  I think the boys enjoy hearing that as well, as they have been known to replay the video segments that tell us so.

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