Fascinating Chemistry (Review)

Not unlike a lot of parents (homeschooling and otherwise), science is not a subject I love. I never have. Despite the fact that I took several advanced level science classes in high school (forever ago!), I never felt like I really got it. My grades would suggest otherwise, but that’s beside the point. When it comes time to teach your kids, your own confidence matters much more than the grades you earned years and years ago. For this reason, I wanted to give Fascinating Education a try with Seahawk.

When I was in school, biology came before chemistry, but with Fascinating Education, it’s the opposite. Besides that, Seahawk has already had loads of earth and life science classes (I like those better than physical sciences, so I tend to gravitate toward them when I feel like we’ve been avoiding science for too long). For these two reasons, I asked for us to review Fascinating Chemistry.

About Fascinating Education

The firs three lessons. You can see the lesson name as well as the sections for each lesson - video, script, and test.

The firs three lessons. You can see the lesson name as well as the sections for each lesson – video, script, and test.

Fascinating Education was developed by Dr. Sheldon Margulies, a retired neurologist. His background in neurology means he really understands how the brain works, and using this knowledge he developed a system of teaching science that really works. The system consists of video lessons, which are narrated with lots of images including charts and graphs, as well as a downloadable version of the narration for students who are more visual. Accompanying each video lesson is a test to make sure students grasped the information from the lesson. Fascinating Chemistry also has some labs available (though we haven’t gotten to those yet in our time with the program).

Our Experience with Fascinating Education

A sample from the script. The script is broken down into the different slides from the video.

A sample from the script. The script is broken down into the different slides from the video.

Seahawk used this curriculum pretty much all on his own. Outside of logging him in and telling him what to expect, it was completely hands-off on my end. I got the video set up for him on the iPad and left him to it.

Because this was Seahawk’s very first exposure to chemistry, he didn’t do so hot the first time through the test. This wasn’t surprising or upsetting to me at all, although I did have to ask others who had used the program before what to do from there. Obviously I couldn’t have him move on, but it seemed counter intuitive to just have him watch the video again and again and again, expecting him to eventually to pass the test. This is where the downloadable narration comes in. Even though Seahawk is an audio learner, I printed out the narration packet for the first lesson so that he could study it before watching the video again and attempting the test. Thus far, he’s still working on the first lesson – despite regular work over the past few weeks. It’s a lot of information there, and this is just the first lesson! I can totally see how (regardless of our limited exposure) this is a high school level chemistry course.

What we think of Fascinating Education

A sample from the Lesson 1 test. The blue button at the top, "Need help?" takes you to a page that offers a clue to help you figure out the answer in case you're unsure.

A sample from the Lesson 1 test. The blue button at the top, “Need help?” takes you to a page that offers a clue to help you figure out the answer in case you’re unsure.

Our (Seahawk’s and mine) opinions on this curriculum differ a bit.

He doesn’t love it – which makes sense, considering he’s been working on the same lesson for a very long time. He doesn’t hate it either, though. He does well with the video lesson; he just needs to learn to focus himself in order to absorb the information better. This would be a great curriculum to learn note-taking with. If he could figure out how to watch the videos and write down pertinent information rather than just watch and listen, I think he’d do a lot better at it.

My opinion is that this is a really good, solid product for older kids. They need to learn to work independently – this teaches them that. They need to learn science (beyond the “fun” stuff of space and life) – this takes care of that, too. With this review posting, we’re not required to keep using the program, but I’m going to have Seahawk continue doing so anyway, even if that makes me a bit unpopular with him. He needs this program, and for more than just the science aspect. He needs to practice being an independent learner who can figure things out on his own, and Fascinating Education is a good tool for that. (I’m always there to help him through things, of course, but like it or not he’s getting older. The most important thing I can teach him at this point is to take charge of his own life, which right now means his education. I set the expectations, and it’s his job to follow through with them.)

Final Musings

Fascinating Education offers Biology and Physics courses as well as the Chemistry one. Members of the Homeschool Review Crew are writing about various levels this week. Make sure to click the banner below for more information on all three levels.

Blessings,

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Biology, Chemistry & Physics {Fascinating Education Reviews}
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