Visual Learning Systems Digital Science Online Program ~ Review
Science is one of my children's favourite subjects so I'm always on the lookout for fun science programs for them.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this product for review, all opinions are 100% my own. This post may contain affiliate links my full disclosure can be read here.So I jumped at the chance to review Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition and Digital Science Online:Secondary Edition from Visual Learning Systems.
The Digital Science Online: Elementary Edition is aimed at children in grades K to 5 and the Secondary Edition for grades 6 to 12. We received a 1 year subscription to both editions.
Online Science Program For Kids
Primary Level contains topics of physical, earth, life and health. In this level the videos are about 10 minutes long. There is so much to explore inside each of these categories!
For example under physical you will find:
Exploring Energy and Heat
Liquids, and Gases
Helping Us Work
How to Measure length
How to Measure Volume
Particles and Matter
Using the Scientific Method
Vibrations and Waves
What are Magnets?
What is Light?
What is Science?
Why do We Measure?
The elementary section has topics of physical, earth and life science and these videos are about 15 minutes in length.
Then the middle school and high school covers physical, earth, life, integrated, health and biology. The middle/high school videos are about 20 minutes long.
Digital Science Online is a subscription service to online science videos that cover a wide range of topics. It can be used as a stand alone curriculum or a supplement to any science program. Both the student and teacher have logins to access the videos and worksheets for each lesson.
When you login to your teacher account on the bottom left you select what program level you want to use. Then you can select what subject. After that there is a list of all the topics within that subject you can pick from.
After selecting what topic you would like to learn about the page refreshes to show the main lesson video. Along the right side it is broken down into shorter clips if you prefer to watch it like that.
Above the videos are tabs for videos, animations, images and teachers guides. Under the teachers guides there is another list menu. Here you can choose from introducing the video, student activities, learning objectives, and video script or you can download the full instructors guide for the lesson as a PDF.
How To Use Online Science Curriculum
I decided to start with the primary level life science to use as a family study. I started with the topic of Cycles in Living Things. In the teachers guide it has suggestions for introducing this topic by asking the children if they have ever seen a baby animal and to talk about how baby animals grow.
Then to do the same thing about a seed. Since we live on a little homestead our children are very familiar with baby animals and starting seed for the garden! So we had an informal talk about this and shared some of our favourite memories of kittens that were born or little bunnies.
After that we watched the 10 minute video that explained what life cycles are. In it the kids watched examples of chicks hatching, lambs growing up and plant life cycles as well. Our ds age 6 loved the time laps showing how a seed grew. He watched intently and shouted "That's how my beans grew last year!"
At the end of the video there is a quiz. You can pause the video to let the children have time to answer. There is also a printable version of the quiz if your children prefer to write their answers.
For the student activities for this topic we completed building a plant life cycle chart. The sheet had nice line drawings of a bean plant germinating. The kids were to colour these in, cut them apart and glue them in the right order to make a circle chart.
Then for the animal life cycle the topic was the stages of fish growth. This page showed the life cycle of fish from egg, tiny hatchling to adult fish. The children were to write about what happened at each stage.
Then there were worksheets that were multiple choice worksheets to assess what the children learned about each topic. These could be used as quizzes. We did use some of these but for the younger children we did them orally.
As we've been working with the Digital Science Online program over the past several weeks we've used a number of topics from each level. With my oldest daughter I let her login using the student account and pick what she wants to learn about that day.
The student view is very similar to the teacher view except that it does not have the teacher guide. Instead there is an area that the student can download and print off the worksheets for themselves if you like. We print off some of the student worksheets for her to work on, sometimes she makes up a notebooking page instead or just does an oral narration.
For the younger children we've continued to use it as part of our family learning time. We decide what topic we would like to learn about that week. I print off the worksheets that I think our children will enjoy using. We like to watch the same video a few times over the week. I find it really helps the younger ones to remember what we've been learning about. Especially the larger vocabulary words!
We've really enjoyed using Digital Science Online these past few weeks. The only part of the program that doesn't fit our family is that it is a secular program. So some of the topics include evolution and dates that we do not agree with. I either skip over the videos that are heavy in this or use it as a discussion starter. It's not a big deal for us because all of our children are familiar with both sides of this topic.
What I've found that works the best for our family is to use the science topics as an introduction to a mini unit study that week. After we watch a video, talk about it and do the worksheets I pull books from our shelves that have similar topics. I add these to our read aloud time in the afternoon. So when we did the life cycle topic, I pulled out books on butterflies and frogs that we hadn't read in a while. This added more of a literature approach that I enjoy to our lessons and still kept the visual and hands on ideas that our children love.
We will continue to use Digital Science Online programs as a large part of our science lessons for the next year. I would recommend this program for anyone looking for a visual science program that is easy to teach!