Finding an online science curriculum can be difficult for homeschooling families, but with CrossWired Science you will find "a whole new way to do science." Our family had the chance to review two engaging units: Sound, and Fluid Dynamics over the past several weeks. Both our older teenage son and our younger kindergartner son were able to use the units due to the nature of CrossWired Science.
CrossWired Science currently offers two Global Topics (Sound, and Fluid Dynamics) for both first timers (younger children) and second timers (older children or those who have completed the topics previously). Each Global Topic is made up of 12 types of lessons:
- Core Videos
- General Links
- Unit Links
- Field Trips
- Gold Digs
- Digging Deeper
CrossWired Science sets forth 17 goals to explain why they do what they do. Their chief purpose is to please the Lord and "share our excitement about what God has done in His creation with young people and their families across the world." By providing new resources, new experiences, and new opportunities, CrossWired Science hopes to create life-long learners who will spend more time outdoors and see the beauty in God's creation. Science does not need to be difficult and can incorporate reading and learning together as a whole family. These are good goals and if you wish to read more about them, you can read them here.
My Beginning Experiences
When I first started using CrossWired Science during the review period, I was overwhelmed and confused. This style of learning seemed very foreign to me. As a former history teacher, my mind tends to work in a straight line and CrossWired Science offers students the opportunity to jump off the line and research what interests them.
I took some time to talk with a fellow reviewer who provided advice and encouragement. I began running with CrossWired Science where it led our kindergartner. We let our interests guide us based upon the videos and suggestions in the curriculum. Now that I had a better way to approach the curriculum, our five-year-old son and I got working.
As CrossWired Science is also brand new there have been some positive changes made over the course of our review period. The addition of worksheets, the correction of quiz questions, and more experiments have also shown the care and concern of CrossWired Science to offer a product that will be useful in your homeschool.
What is Available?
At the time of this review CrossWired Science offers two Global Topics: Fluid Dynamics which focuses upon objects (planes, animals, etc) that move through air and water and Sound which focuses on all things relating to sound. One of the educational keys as outlined by CrossWired Science is that students should be able to bridge between different topics. So as we studied Fluid Dynamics, our son became interested in reptiles after viewing one of the General Links videos about Chameleons. Depending upon how much time you and your children spend on each topic and activity, you could spend from as little as 22 days on one Global Topic to as long as 43 days or more. So we spent about a week studying different types of reptiles and thus our progress in the course is slower than originally anticipated.
As the review period progressed, CrossWired Science added more and more things which have made the curriculum easier for me to navigate and use. For example, when we began watching the videos, we sat and watched them not really knowing what were the most important things to focus upon. A short while ago, they added question sheets that I have printed out and used with subsequent videos. The questions help us focus on key points to answer the quiz questions at the end.
How We Are Using CrossWired Science
The first four activities within Fluid Dynamics are Core Videos. Our kindergartner and I watched them together and I took notes until CrossWired Science added the worksheets – now I use the worksheets to take notes. We take the quiz together while re-watching the Core Videos. Some of the questions do seem a bit difficult even after taking notes using the provided worksheets. I can view the correct answers through the parent portal but our younger son would like to see them, as well (he loves going over his online games, quizzes, etc).
|The outline of activities and lessons|
The lessons provide a variety of ideas all linked to a common thread – Fluid Dynamics. I looked through the Research and and Reading sections to find ideas for reading, notebooking, and other projects while we watched the first four Core Videos.
|Reading one of the books we checked out of the library. Our son wanted to learn more about Earthquakes.|
U-Choose is the "free-for-all area of the Global Topics" that allows your child to research something that interests them and does not have to be connected to the Global Topic. While watching the video about chameleons from the General Links, our son said he would like to learn more about reptiles. He is working on a Reptile Notebooking Project using books from the library.
|Working on notebooking about king snakes|
There are also several lessons entitled "Gold Dig" which allow each student to dig deeper into one topic. For Fluid Dynamics, the Gold Dig focuses upon bones. As the material appeared to be more appropriate for an older child, I asked our teen to work on the worksheets and read through the material. This makes CrossWired Science a good supplement for his General Biology course this year.
Please Note: We are only using one account but I wanted to make sure I could address all aspects of CrossWired Science – even those that were too difficult for our kindergartner – so I asked our teen to complete parts of it now and in the future so I could have a better understanding of the curriculum to share with you.
He did need to shrink the size of the image and font on the screen to be able to have more information visible for each question at one time. Our teenager had only one question about one of the statements and completed the first worksheet (Bones 1) between 30 and 45 minutes.
What We Like
I like that there is a great variety to the lesson types – videos, discussions, labs, reading, etc – and that the material can all be tied together or crosswired. Life, Earth, and Physical science are woven together in CrossWired Science.
The fact that many of the issues and problems I had were being worked on behind the scenes is fantastic in my eyes. For example, I had trouble knowing what to focus upon in the Core Videos and a short while after we started, CrossWired Science had added the worksheets. These helped immensely.
In the General Links, the links to the YouTube videos are not clickable. They are protected so children cannot just click on it by themselves. As with all online education, it is important to provide means as safe as possible to studying—with or without parent supervision.
Our entire family enjoyed getting out into the backyard to complete one of the experiments. We built two Hoopsters according to the link provided as well as two store-bought foam airplanes to fly in our yard. My husband then interviewed our younger son about the experiment so we could complete the online results 'quiz.'
If you are unfamiliar with a curriculum that is open-ended and allows you to follow your own path to learn more, CrossWired Science might intimidate you, as it did me in the beginning. Part of the problem I had was there is also a lot of clicking to open new tabs to read directions and information.
As CrossWired Science wants to bring out the glory of God's creation, this curriculum would not suit secular homeschooling families. There are devotions that relate directly to God and the Bible as well as young earth videos in the General Links.
Both Global Topics are set up in similar ways. So we will be able to complete the one on Sound without any real learning curve. So far, we have viewed several of the General Links about animals' teeth, volcanoes, and baby toucans. And I am looking forward to spending time studying bats and echolocation with our children. I am also excited to do some of the Sound experiments with our children. We will be able to create string phones while we talk about how sound works as well as take a look at record players.
|The lessons for Sound.|
Some of the experiments require more materials than others but—since there are a variety to pick from—you will probably find at least one to suit your homeschooling family.
During the next few weeks, our teenager will continue answering the Gold Dig questions and work on the Teen Devotionals of both Fluid Dynamics and Sound.
|Space is available online for your child to answer questions|
One of the lessons included in CrossWired Science are Teen Devotionals. In the Sound course, one of the Teen Devotionals is about humility. A story is shared about the perfect timing of a tree falling on a car and the individuals in the car being safe. "Proper perspective keeps us walking near to Him where He can do more than we ever expected." There is also space for students to address the devotionals.
|Some of the experiments are available as either individual PDF downloads or bundled in one download|
Want to Learn More?
Please check out CrossWired Science at the following sites and don't forget to check out the other reviews to see how other homeschooling families incorporated the Global Topics into their day.