Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Science Experiments Made Simple (and Fun!) at Home {A Review)

Do your kids love science?  Do they thrill at hands-on learning?  Are they always asking, “Why?” and wanting you – or someone else – to guide them to an answer if they cannot discover it for themselves?

If so, welcome to the club!

I have just described my children and, in essence, why I – a Language Arts/Drama type – have now become a Science type, too, and one who is quite grateful for Amazing Science, Volume 1 DVD by that my family has recently had the privilege to review in exchange for a honest review.

What is Amazing Science, Volume 1? Review
In short, it’s two DVD’s packed with 23 experiments about buoyancy, chemistry, electricity, heat, magnetism, physics and more that is targeted at children in Grades 1-3, but which we found engaged and taught our entire family (age 3 through 40-something).

Each of the experiments on the Amazing Science, Volume1 is:

  • short, yet engaging
  • explained in full by an expert (not Mom!)
  • completed using relatively easy to find materials, many of which you probably already have at home
  • shot with multiple camera views so you can see what happens clearly

So, basically, the DVD can become a teacher, guide and lesson plan all wrapped up in one.  You can simply watch and learn.  Or, as our family did, you can gather the materials needed to try experiments out yourself, watching, DOING and learning.

Who knew milk, food coloring, dish soap and a Q-tip could bring such colorful Science fun?

To do some of the experiments you’ll need such household items as dish soap, water, cooking oil, etc.  There are also some that require additional supplies you can pick up inexpensively, such as balloons or match sticks. And, a few require specialty items, such as LED lights or a piece of copper pipe.

Our Experience

We have been thoroughly enjoying Amazing Science, Volume1, usually during post-dinner family time, but sometimes at other times, too, such as when I was sick in bed one day and Daddy used the videos to direct part of the children’s homeschool lessons for the day.  (Thank you, Jason for being such a learned Amazing Science host and making lessons that day easier for us!)

Luke and Nina make a "lava lamp".

Whenever we gather to enjoy Amazing Science experiments, we typically pick one experiment (or two or three!), pop in the video, pause at the supply list to gather supplies and, then, start and stop the video, so we can make our own predications as to what will happen as we follow along.

Luke is eager to take the video off pause while Nina makes arrows for the reversing images experiment.

Or, so that is the method of using the DVD I had in mind: to watch, learn and do all at once.

My oldest son, I have recently discovered, changed things up a bit.  You see, he loves both science and screentime and I guess could not wait for me to be ready to do all the experiments with him and his siblings before watching the DVD.  I did not know this and found it odd the other night that he seemed almost clairvoyant as we did one experiment.  

That night, my oldest was a step ahead of the video whenever I paused it, always seeming to know what he and his siblings should do next or why something happened.  As I watched him trying to patiently wait as I stopped and started the video, making “I wonder...” statements to help my children predict what would happen in one of the experiments, it dawned on me:  My boy might have previewed the experiment.  When I asked him if he had, his smile told me everything!  

Somebody is loving Amazing Science, Volume 1

I guess when Daddy was with the children one day, they had watched some portions of Amazing Science, Volume1 just for fun without doing the experiments at that time.  And, hey, that’s okay!  It just goes to show that the video can be hands-on or simply watch-and-learn and that it engages children when viewed multiple times.

Do You Need Anything Else

As I mentioned above, if you want to do the experiments on the video yourself, you will need common household items and a few specialty things that are not hard to find. I also like to have age-appropriate lab reports on hand.   

Luke fills out a lab report while his siblings continue doing and re-doing the color-changing milk experiment.

Sometimes, to integrate writing while doing the science experiments, I have my children fill out pre-printed lab reports.  We pause the video so they can copy the supply list, pause it again for them to formulate questions and pause it again so they can capture what happened in words and pictures.

We don’t do this every time, but, I think, doing so sometimes works well.

My Balanced View

Amazing Science, Volume1 has added fun and learning to our homeschool experience.  In all honesty, some of the experiments on the DVD are ones you might find directions for elsewhere online, but the way the host Jason demonstrates and explains them "ups" their impact, in my opinion.  Plus, having a varied array of easy-to-do, yet educational, experiments collected on a single DVD set has made me more apt to make our post-dinner time Science time.

Several things I appreciate about the experiments are:

  • They capture my children’s attention and feed their desire to ask and figure out the answer to “Why?” and “What will happen if...?”

  • Experiments are brief, so you can easily fit them into a busy day, or make an event of things and do a whole series in a row.  (We did both.)

  • Some experiments (like the Color Changing Milk and Match Speedboat ones), are based on similar scientific concepts, which not only reinforces these concepts, but can get a child’s imagination rolling for their own further experiments.
Nina paints blueberry juice on the paper to reveal invisible ink.

What I wish was included with the video, or would be made available at the website:

  • While necessary supplies are mostly common household items and are listed on screen at the beginning of each experiment, having a printed materials list as an insert or a printable one accessible online would be a welcome addition.  Because my children love the video and I do not like them to be disappointed when we don't have certain supplies on hand, I found I wanted to pre-shop for materials.  It is a cumbersome process to click through to each experiment on the DVD to create a comprehensive supply list.  Having one ready-made would be a wonderfully helpful extra.

  • A chart of concepts each experiment highlights would be welcome, too.  For while the video host Jason is effective in explaining experiments onscreen in understandable terms, I wish there were a package insert or printable chart available online that outlined what concepts each experiment centers on.  Having something like this on hand would allow me to more easily integrate the DVD with our other learning experiences as I could quickly see which experiments might dovetail with other things we are learning and doing. 

Besides that, there is nothing I can think of I would change or add to Amazing Science, Volume1The video is an award-winning one for a reason!  It makes doing experiments at home easy, fun and effective!
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I’d recommend it to anyone with young children, and even with children who are a bit older.  It makes an entertaining and educational addition for everyday homeshooling or family time.  I can also see the DVD being helpful for co-ops and enrichment programs.

Jack tests the surface tension of the water after video host Jason suggested it.

Find Out More

Learn more about Amazing Science, Volume1 at, where you can view a trailer and experiment lesson samples or purchase the DVD for the current price of $17.95 (a 28% discount off list price!)
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Find out more at the Facebook page.

See how many other families have used Amazing Science, Volume1 by clicking through Schoolhouse Review Crew reviews.

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What encourages you and yours to enjoy education fun doing Science experiments together?
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