Review: CrossWired Science

Technology is everywhere.  Every day our society places more and more focus on the use of technology.  This has opened an entire realm of possibilities for education as well.  Students can learn entire subjects from the comfort of their home.  As a homeschool educator, these resources prove invaluable.  Learning online provides our students with a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips.  It was this notion that had me so excited to be given the opportunity to review CrossWired Science Sound, and Fluid Dynamics.

What is CrossWired Science?

CrossWired Science is an online science classroom.  Currently, there are two units that your child may work through.  These global topics include Sound, and Fluid Dynamics.

Each global topic has a multitude of lessons that your child can work through as they discover various concepts surrounding the global topic. These lessons include core videos, worksheets, experiments, field trips, devotions, and projects.

The online science lessons are geared toward children ages 4-18.  The designers can accomplish this by providing a “First Timer Curriculum” for those who are inexperienced with the content, as well as a “Second Timer Curriculum” for those who have knowledge of the content.   The curriculum designed for those who have previous knowledge requires the learner to go more in-depth with these topics. 

CrossWired Science Sound, an Fluid Dynamics is designed to teach children about God and his creations.  The use of scriptures is to relate science and the Bible, to help the learner have a deeper understanding of the universe that God created.

At the time of this review, CrossWired Science Sound, and Fluid Dynamics can be used as a full curriculum for three months of Science.  However, with the additions that will be occurring, it will become a complete year of Science.  As the developers continue working, the goal is to make it a six-year full curriculum. 

Not only can this be used as a full curriculum, you can also utilize it as a supplement to other curriculums. 

How did we use it?

We completed the “Sound” global topic since this is what we were studying in our homeschool science classroom.  I found that this unit provided my children with a more solid foundation of sound. The unit provides concept videos.  On these video days, we would begin by watching the video.

We used the accompanying worksheets as viewing guides and would complete them as we were watching the videos.

After we viewed the videos we would discuss the worksheet viewing guide to ensure that we each had the right answers.  After this, we would take the quiz.  Since we chose to work altogether on this, rather than each kid login separately (we will talk more about this later) we used dry-erase boards or voting cards and went with the majority answer.  The quizzes are immediately graded so we would discuss any that we missed and determined the reason they were incorrect.  Sometimes this meant watching the videos again. 

On days that our focus was an experiment, we would work on these together, and have conversations about the experiments as we worked. 

The research project was easy to do.  We spent a few minutes looking up dolphins and how they sonar.  We used a variety of websites, and even a book about dolphins to help us find the answers. 

During the unit, you have an option of which field trips you would like to go on.  There are a wide variety of options, which means that you could participate in as many of these experiences as you want your child(ren) to have.  We live in a very rural area, so we were limited to the options we had available to us.  We wanted to find a field trip that was applicable to what we were learning, which was sound.  We completed a nature exploration, keeping a log of all the sounds we heard within a day.  it didn’t matter the places we were at, we jotted down sounds we heard.  At ball practice, we could hear the bat hitting the ball. At the grocery store, we heard someone dropping a can.  By doing this, my children became so much more aware of sounds.

The devotionals were easy to incorporate.  We did one devotional a day and spent our time reading the devotional and studying the scriptures that were given.  The quizzes that accompany the devotional were completed in the same manner as the quizzes that accompany the videos

Although we did not get to use “Fluid Dynamics” I was able to look over it and will be using it in the near future.  The setup is similar to that of “Sound”.  The topics covered are ones that my children will be interested in, such as “Boxfish and Penguins”.

A crucial element that I become aware of very recently, is a calendar of suggested use. For people who need structured plans, this would be a great feature for you to use.

What did we think?

Overall, we really enjoyed CrossWired Science Sounds and Fluid Dynamics, once we were able to get into a routine with it.  Each of my children had an account, but we had so many issues logging it that it prevented them from being able to utilize it.  Their given passwords were very elaborate, and there weren’t many login attempts allowed.  If they didn’t capitalize a letter or transposed something, they were locked out for a short period of time.  With three children, computer time is limited.  If one person messed up their password and got locked out, it would throw our whole schedule off.  At times, I even attempted to put their passwords in, and they were incorrect.  It was because of this that I chose to work together through the unit.  I also found that by doing this, we were able to have more in-depth conversations about the topics they were learning. 

One small issue I had was not with the product itself, but rather with some of the information I found while exploring the research portion of the “Sound” global topic.  The website provided the user with a list of resources that could be used to find information.  These resources were ranked by using terms such as “great”, “good”, “so-so” and “not good”.  Resources such as Christian Science Books and Christian Web Ministries were labeled as great.  Science journals and articles about the topic were labeled as good.  Kid-friendly online resources were labels as “so-so”.  The library was labeled as “not so great”.  This was my issue.  The rationale that was given was that libraries are usually not good for upper-level students because current research is needed and not available to libraries.  My local library is amazing.  They are so supportive of our homeschool community and will do anything to help us.  They have a wide variety of resources, and if we need something that they do not have, they will do their best to get it.  Some libraries might not be a great resource, but I don’t think it’s fair to lump all libraries together and deem them as a “not good” resource.

The videos were of great quality.  They were entertaining and informative.  My children loved watching them.  Using the worksheets as a viewing guide really help them to focus on the information that they needed to learn.  I did find the quizzes had a few errors.  One of my colleagues shared with us that when they emailed CrossWired Science they were extremely apologetic and offered to reset their quiz for them.  I think this shows the amount of pride that they take in their work.

The experiments are, for the most part, simple to use.  There were some experiments that required more materials than I wanted to purchase.  I enjoyed that there were a wide variety of experiments that they could do, which allowed me to avoid purchasing those extra materials. 

My favorite aspect was the devotionals.  I loved being able to incorporate the Bible into the learning of my children.  I thought that the devotionals in the “Sound” unit would have related to sound more, but we incorporated this ourselves.  We examined Bible stories and examples in the Bible when sound was important.  For example, when the walls of Jericho fell.  The sounds of the people shouting, and the sound of the shofar being blown was important.  We examined these scriptures and used the things that they had learned about sound during the unit to expand their understanding of this biblical event. For example, how the sound would have been made in the shofar, and how the sounds of them shouting would have echoed.

The developers sent emails with the updates or important information that we needed to know.  I really appreciated this, as it made me feel that they were genuinely wanting my students to succeed.  This is important since this website is really in the introductory stages.  Videos and other important aspects are being added continuously.  On April 9th, a new sound video was added, which I was alerted to through email.  

Our family enjoyed using CrossWired Science Sound, and Fluid Dynamics.  We found it to be entertaining and informative.  The issues that we had were because of glitches that will be fixed, as it is in the introductory stages.  The developers were very receptive to feedback which lets me know that they want Sound, and Fluid Dynamics to be amazing.

If you are curious to see what CrossWired Science is like for yourself, click the logo to be taken to a sample unit. 

To find out more about CrossWired Science and what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought about Sound, and Fluid Dynamics, click the banner below. 

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