Thursday, March 17, 2011

Science Weekly

I went to the National Science Teachers Conference in March and came home with a bag full of freebees and samples that I now have to go through to see what is really worthwhile and what was shiny on the outside and dull on the inside.  This is the first in a series of reviews of curriculum and resources I found at the conference that would be worthwhile for homeschoolers to explore.

Science Weekly is similar to the Weekly Reader news magazines that you may have had as a kid in elementary school, except with a science focus.  It is published 15 times during the school year (which really makes it Science Bi-Weekly).  What makes it interesting is that the exact same topic is published for each of six different levels from Pre-A (approximately Kindergarten) to Level E (grades 5-6) with each level increasingly complex.  For instance, in one sample issue on Climate Change, the Pre-A level simply teaches children to distinguish between "weather" and "climate", the A level adds "atmosphere" as a topic, the B level adds the concept of energy balance, the C level adds the "greenhouse effect" while giving a more complex description of atmosphere, the D level begins to explore the human impact on climate, and the E level gives a fairly complicated description of climate change.

Each issue also contains an experiment, which ranges from comparing the temperature indoors and out at the Pre-A level to comparing temperatures inside and outside a jar at the B level, to measuring temperatures in jars with and without carbon sinks in the E level.  Every level also includes related math and language arts activities and "challenge" activities.

A teacher's guide includes discussion questions, answers, and additional resources for all levels in the same guide.

I was intrigued by Science Weekly because I have three children in the age range of the magazine and I can imagine subscribing to the appropriate level for each of them so we could all study the same topic but each child could perform different experiments and complete grade appropriate activities.  In the two issues I have samples of, the experiments actually test different things, so we would learn from each other's results.  We've previously had a subscription to the Young Scientists Club kits, which worked well for us in a similar way.

The cost for a single 15 issue subscription is $19.95, but a co-op might be able to gather 20 children who wanted subscriptions for the price of $5.95 per child per 15 issues.

A sample issue at all the levels is available on the Science Weekly website, as well as some free interactive issues.  I haven't used this with my family yet, but I think it has the potential to be a worthwhile resource for homeschooling families.

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