When my children were younger we used books, hands-on activities, and field trips to study science. Our lessons seemed to be complete with the addition of a few nature walks, butterfly gardens, and visits to the zoo.
Disclosure: We have been using Uzinggo in our homeschool. I received free access to the site to help gather information for this review. I was compensated for my time to share my personal opinions based on our experiences.
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As we moved into the middle school years, however, I began to get a bit concerned – I knew we needed to take the learning “up a notch”, but science isn’t a subject I feel comfortable teaching. Fortunately, Megan offered to lead a science co-op for our kids. Our middle schoolers love her co-op and rave about the engaging videos and hands-on science activities she uses to teach them about physical sciences, animal studies, and more.
This year our science co-op only meets once a month so I needed to find a program to supplement Megan’s wonderful lessons. For our family, online science lessons have been the answer.
Virtual Science Labs
Organizing hands-on science experiments and activities for middle school kids – how hard can that be?
In the past I’ve purchased boxes of science experiment materials to make my life a little easier, only to find them still sitting in the box at the end of the school year! My kids enjoy science, but given a choice they would much rather construct LEGO models or build duct tape weapons to bring their history lessons to life than spend time working through a science experiment.
My children are very comfortable working on the computer so we have been using more online resources to aid our homeschool efforts. This is where the Uzinggo online science lessons help to keep us on track.
Here is an example of how we use Uzinggo to enhance our science studies:
In a recent science co-op meeting our topic was friction. After a video and some discussion, the kids raced Matchbox cars down a ramp covered with various materials to determine the effect of friction on the cars’ movements. There were a lot of predictions and testing of theories as the kids completed their lessons.
The next week we used the Uzinggo online lessons about friction to reinforce and continue our learning at home. This lesson included 2 virtual science labs:
- Activity #1 involved a sled race (yes, a virtual sled race is much warmer and safer than a real one!). We figured out how ice, mud, and grass surfaces would affect the sled’s motion.
- Activity #2 required us to virtually “push” a pencil box across different surface. We charted the properties of 4 different surfaces and then compared the box’s motion across those surfaces.
- Saves mom time and energy – I don’t have to think up appropriate activities or go through our closets and garage to find just the right supplies.
- Efficient and effective – With the virtual science labs we can repeatedly make predictions and manipulate several variables in our online activities. We also remove some of the “human error” (when we performed the activities with the cars sometimes the ramp wasn’t at the same angle or the surface wasn’t uniform).
- More likely to be completed – It’s easy for me to talk myself out of doing some of the hands-on science activities when we are at home, by ourselves, reviewing a topic. With the online option we have been more consistent about pulling the activities up on the computer and working through the engaging lessons.
- Documentation – The Activity Sheet offers a place to record our learning and is a great document to add to my children’s school notebook. There is a Teacher’s version available with the correct answers.
Want to give it a try? You can learn more about this lesson and try the sled race for yourself on the Uzinggo website! (Click on the “Try a Lesson” image to start the race.)
Online science homeschool curriculum
During another science co-op we were introduced to Newton’s 3 Laws. The kids participated in an activity to demonstrate each of the 3 laws. We covered a great deal of information so we wanted to spend more time at home digging a little deeper into the content.
Using the Uzinggo “Zing Paths” we found lesson plans for all 3 of Newton’s laws. In reading the description for Newton’s First Law I have to admit I was feeling a bit intimidated:
“Learn about inertia by recreating a famous experiment with the help of Galileo. Then use vectors and the Pythagorean theorem to calculate the net force on objects.”
The really good news – Uzinggo provides very detailed and easy to use lesson plans! All I had to do was print the documents provided and lead my children through the lesson.
The lesson plan documents include:
- Teacher Guide – A multi-page document covering everything from learning outcomes, key vocabulary, an overview of the information in the video segments, background information, a hands-on activity to engage the learner and more.
- Activity Sheet – Offers student a place to record their learning, a great document to add to your child’s work papers/portfolio. There is a Teacher’s version available with the correct answers.
- Investigation Sheet – Offers suggestions for recreating the video activities in real life and provides space to record findings. Teacher’s version for this as well.
- Assessment – 5 question quiz to check for overall understanding.
What a life saver!
The lesson plans are detailed and helpful, but NOT overwhelming. The lesson plans help me walk my children step-by-step through the material and guide us to develop a deeper level of understanding of the subject. We are currently using this program as a supplement to our co-op physical science studies, but there is enough information in these lessons that I feel this could easily be used as a primary source of science study for a middle school homeschool student.
Ready to try Uzinggo with your family?
If you are looking for a middle school friendly science program, or an online option to supplement your current science studies, be sure to check out Uzinggo. To help you learn more about the Uzinggo online science lessons (oh, and I forgot to mention, they also offer awesome online math lessons too!) we have 3 options available:
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