Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Enjoy Flexible Family Science with Ease {A CrossWired Science Review}

{Some links which follow may be affiliate ones.}

If you are looking for an engaging, original resource for online science learning that encourages offline learning and can easily adapt to almost any style of homeschooling, CrossWired Science is worth looking at.

CrossWired Science intergrates multiple fields of science - and other things - to help learners make connections while also glorifying God. It comes as a yearly digital subscription and has two Global Topics available at this time - Sound and Fluid Dynamics - with more content being added soon.

The program is self-paced and geared for students from ages 4-18 with elements that will appeal to and challenge every age, so families can all be on the "same science page." 

Despite the wide age range, Science terminology used in the program is NOT watered down. Concepts are simply taught with plenty of interesting similes, connections, etc. to keep everyone engaged!

My Children and I Appreciate the CrossWired Science Approach

Due to the unique approach of CrossWired Science, I was excited to excited to be part of the review team that tested a beta version of the program.

Initially, my intent was to have each of my children use
 CrossWired Science individually and to, sometimes, use it together as a family, but, unfortunately, our two computers died just as we began our review, so we ended up opting to use just one log in and to do CrossWired Science for now with the hand-me-down computer a friend generously gave us.

That worked well, and, as you will see in just as a second, some of my children are looking forward to having their own logins, soon.

My oldest son, age 13, had this to say:

CrossWired Science is a science curriculum with lots of cool videos, experiments, and other things that you can use to learn about sound and fluid at the moment - with more to come. 
I enjoyed the videos, because the hosts were good at explaining things and there were quizzes afterward. I liked the quiz that was beneath the videos, because it was a simple quiz so taking it was kind of like a game.  (I did not like the other quizzes that were on worksheets, because I don't like to write and, when my Mom did it orally, it was boring.) 
A few things I learned were: 
  • Whales have long-distance calls.
  • Dolphins can jump really, really high.
  • You hear by tiny hairs waving around in your ear behind your eyes.
As you can see, I learned different things. CrossWired Science is not all just about one thing it is meant to be teaching, but puts many things together. 
I would like to keep using it with my own account, not with my Mom, so I could watch and explore by myself.
I would recommend CrossWired Science who like science and want a non-traditional way to learn it.
I just love that my son appreciates the inter-connected ideas that CrossWired Science presents. It's actually one of the reasons I like the program, too: it recognizes that we learn best when we are able to make connections rather than studying things in isolation and truly brings a wide array of knowledge together under a single Global Topic.

In fact, the eight fun, information-packed videos under Sound explore: What Sound Is, Sound Transfer through Solids, Liquids & Gases, Ultrasound, Infrasound, Decibels, Microphones, Vocal Cords, Voice Making, Larynx, Baby Cries, How Ears Work, Cochleas, Sonograms, Speakers, Hearing and Sound Making in Various Animals and Insects,  Lion Roars, Alligator Infrasound, the History of Sonar, Dolphin Sonar, Bat Sonar, Orienting by (non-sonar) Sound, Syrinx, Bird Songs and Calls, Whale Songs, Elephant Infrasound, Ultrasound Devices, Ceramic Piezoelectric Crystals, Piezoelectric Speakers, Sonar, Laser Sound Transmission, Musical Instruments and more.
Of course, some of these are just brushed upon, but all are tied together well, and between explanations and animations so much can be learned and retained! Plus, other parts of the subscription site offer places to dig deeper. How cool is it that
CrossWired Science ignites interest across such a broad spectrum of facts and subjects!

My daughter, 11, had this to say:
CrossWired Science is an online curriculum.  You can learn about two things right now: fluids or sound. 
We chose to learn about sound first. 
After you click on the sound icon, there are lots of little videos that you can watch and there are experiments and other things. 
What we did was watch the videos first. 
After you watch the videos, there is a test underneath it to see how much you actually retained from the videos. 
Some cool facts that I learned about from these videos are:
  • Did you know that whales can communicate from America to England? That's a loooong way!
  • Did you also know that there can be hundreds of bats in a cave, but they will not crash into each other because they each have their own wavelength of sonar?
  • Also, did you know the way we hear things is because there are tons of hairs in our ears and each of those hairs has microscopic hairs on top of it. Some open and close.  That's how we hear things.
I found CrossWired Science a fun and enjoyable science curriculum so far. I want to continue it and recommend it to parents like my mom who have high stress levels because the curriculum is low-stress for parents.

And, yes, it made me laugh when she recommended the program to parents like me who "have high stress levels" because it is such a low-stress program. 

I try not to live in a highly stressed state, nor to allow my children to sense when I am under stress, but, sometimes live just piles things on - healing from a surgery, computers dying, a hard drive with all files being lost, taxes being due... You know, life stuff!  As humans, we have to deal with a lot of it - sometimes all at once.  As homeschoolers, we have the extra challenge of still attending to our children's education and formation in faith. So, having resources to make doing that easy is key!

CrossWired Science makes family Science learning so easy!  Just open the website, point the mouse, click, then enjoy the videos. Take a quiz. Chat. Browse other sections of the site for ideas for experiments, games, devotionals, field trip ideas, etc. if you like... Varied, interesting, and easy, igniting curiosity and teaching new concepts! That's my kind of Science program.

Finally, my youngest child, at eight, had this to say:
CrossWired Science is a science program that teaches two types of science so far - fluid and hearing. 
We decided to do hearing after watching the first video (of both fluid and hearing).  I kind of wanted to choose fluid, so I will probably to that later.
We watched the videos together and I liked them. They were not too long, but not too short. The hosts related sound to a lot of things like a football field, a gun shot, and airplanes. They connected stuff they were teaching about to animals and more. It made it interesting.

CrossWired Science is not really traditional, because you don't study one thing at a time with one assignment after another after another. Instead, you can watch different videos, do experiments, read, go on field trips, ...
I would like to use this for science more. I recommend it to others, because it is not boring and you can learn a lot.

I agree with my youngest. Even at is nascent stage, 
CrossWired Science already had so much information and appeal. We have been enjoying it as a fresh, fun approach to family Science learning with a Christian worldview.

How Does the Program Work

When using 
CrossWired Science, there are two options to choose when studying each Global Topic: one meant for "first timers" and one for "second timers".  That way, families that have studied a topic can cycle back around to it a second time, reviewing material while also discovering new information.

Within each Global Topic are eight core videos, which vary in length, but are definitely short enough for a "Morning Time" or "Afternoon Basket" family study time as we used them.

Following each video, there is a short online multiple-choice quiz that gets automatically graded. You can also find printable worksheets with questions that test knowledge with more than multiple-choice and have keys in the teacher's section of the program.

Plus, of course, older children are encouraged to take notes, jotting down key facts and cool ideas that they learn about. (And cool things are aplenty in the jam-packed videos!)

After the first four jam-packed core videos, there are buttons that can be clicked on which take you to suggestions and directions for other learning and experiences, then, there are four more videos, before more other learning buttons.

The other learning includes:

  1. Experiments: Directions for a variety of experiments are presented. Some require only household supplies while others require purchased items. All experiments are optional, but, of course, doing some is worthwhile.
  2. General Links: These are typically embedded YouTube videos related in some way to topics in the Core Videos. There is enough information here to view over a full week, I'd say, if you decide to view everything.
  3. Unit Links: These are divided into three different levels and provide bunny trails that are loosely connected to main material.
  4. U-Choose: These are suggestions for hands-on projects and activities.
  5. Field Trips: These are suggested field trips to help reinforce or learn more about the topic. Some are no-brainers (museums and outdoor excursions) and some are only for those with high budgets (like cruises!), but others are what I'd consider helpful ideas.
  6. Reinforcement: There are suggestions for a wide age range to reinforce ideas.
  7. Research: The company sees that there is "an unprecedented amount of information being added to the 'the world’s data base' every year" and wishes to encourage students to "glean the precious from the worthless" as a needed skill.
  8. Reading: There are a wide range of suggested reading programs focused on a different styles/age ranges (so fellow book lovers will LOVE this section!)
  9. Gold Digs: Oodles of small pieces are offered here to help students forge connections between main concepts and other interesting ideas that go in all sorts of directions. Short assessments follow each, with differences in difficulty for first and second time user paths. There are also printable worksheets.
  10. Digging Deeper: This is like the previous section, but with topics more directly related to the main concepts of the unit.
  11. Devotions: These are short essays that relate in some way to the main concepts.

All of these things, though ordered on the screen, can be clicked in and out of at any point, so homeschoolers that like structure, can use the on-screen order and a suggested course of study calendar found elsewhere on the program site, and, those who lean towards the delight-directed, can browse and go as desired. CrossWired Science is truly flexible enough to meet both types of homeschool styles - structured and freewheeling.

No matter what style you use for homeschooling, 
CrossWired Science will teach real science while also showing the glory of God through what He has made and through come content that is explicitly designed as devotional(mostly in the Digging Deeper and Gold Dig sections). This "God-connection" allows you to use the program as a stand-alone curriculum that glorifies God or as a supplement to any other Science curriculum that may be lacking in a "God-element". 

It can also work as a full, stand alone curriculum for three months of science with its current content, and, then, with several more additions coming soon, as a full year of Science content. Finally, when all planned content has been added to the program, 
CrossWired Science will offer six years worth of Science content.

Who Can Benefit from CrossWired Science?

Obviously, our family has been enjoying being on the ground floor as 
CrossWired Science is being built.  It's been fun for us to dive into the first Global Topic and to check back with the site often to see what new content has been added. (More is being added all the time!) Thus, we would recommend 
CrossWired Science to other Christian families that would like an eclectic, fun, and easy way to learn about science that truly connects multiple fields and is growing in content every week.

Parents will like that 
CossWired Science offers:
  • one easy, inexpensive place to find online science learning geared toward multiple age levels.
  • enrichment materials and activities to dig into at your own pace.
  • progress that parents can note, including graded quizzes.
  • a wide array of experiments.
  • content that allows for creativity in approach and use.
  • adaptability for your unique homeschool style and schedule.

Using the program, students can:
  • integrate computers, science, and the real world, making oodles of connections between science, other topics, and, of course, the glory of God's creation
  • enjoy fascinating information, activities, experiments, and more.
  • hop onto bunny trails with connected delight-based exploration
  • deepen awareness of God's love, beauty, power, and intelligence while noting the amazing design of creation
  • continually reinforce and build on concepts

CrossWired Science, even at the beginning stages it is at with only two main content areas so far - Sound and Fluid Dynamics - does a commendable job at balancing the digital world with the world outside. It uses technology to teach concepts and pique student interest, then, it encourages students to go out and actually experience and learn more in the real world - and it does all this in a family-friendly, God-glorifying, cross-age way at an economical price: Now under $30 annually, plus $10 for each additional student subscription, when you use this affiliate discount link.

Learn More

Find CrossWired!

You can currently gain access to a FREE sample lesson of 
CrossWired Science.

Or, like I said before, you can purchase this online Science program - with its dozens of videos, dozens of links, and growing array of fascinating, fun lessons that glorify God - for just under $30 a year.

Read the reviews.

Eighty Homeschool Review Crew families have been tailoring CrossWired Science to their current homeschool needs. Discover how each has been using this homeschool science program.

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