Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fascinating Education ~ Fascinating Physics Review

Even with a little help
from his little brother
he's good! 
Juggling at the beach
There really are three
balls in the air... 
Middlest child is a nuts and bolts kind of guy, who happens to have a bit of a natural inclination towards physics from a coordination point of view... he understands how to juggle... and he makes some amazing pool shots... and those all tie in to physics to some degree. He utilizes the laws governing movement and energy, often without even realizing it. Because of this, he was most interested in checking Fascinating Physics when given the option to choose between Fascinating Education's Biology, Chemistry, and Physics programs to review.

Now... he is on the younger end of the spectrum~ just turning 15 and if he were in the local school district he'd probably be an incoming freshman, so Physics is a bit of a s-t-r-e-t-c-h for him, but he was up for the challenge.

Fascinating Physics is an online science course, accessed via browser. The class is taught by the founder, Dr. Sheldon Margulies. As you can see by the graphic below, the course consists of a lesson (Power-point style, with Dr. Margulies lecturing/explaining through each slide), a script of the lecture, (for those who absorb knowledge best via reading,  easily accessed via the blue button below the lesson icon), and when your student has a handle on the material, a test, which can be taken either online or via a printed version from the provided pdf file, for those who prefer to have hardcopy on hand for their portfolios.

If you click on the graphic below, you can visit the Fascinating Education Sample page, to "test-drive" a lesson, view a script and see what a test looks like. This page also includes the course outline.
A note about the physics tests~ each question page has a "need help?" button, which will open up and reinforce the material learned before returning the student to the test. This can be very helpful when there are a myriad formulas that are difficult to recall when working through some of this material. 

A note about the tests in general~ there are no results stored on the website, so if you want a record of your students work, you will want to print the results right away, or print as pdf and store them on your computer. 

I should also mention that this is a secular science resource, so there will be mention of theories like "The Big Bang" and "Billions of years." However, I didn't find those comments to be a problem in the efficacy of the course in teaching the laws of physics.

So... how did we like Fascinating Physics, and how did it work for us? 
As mentioned above, the material might be a little bit advanced for my son at this age, so we took it a little slower than a student might who is 2-3 years older, with a stronger background in Algebra and Geometry. Middlest watched the complete first lesson in a few chunks of time the first full week we had the program. Then we watched it together, again bit by bit, because he was having trouble comprehending some parts (ummm.. yeah, me too! Physics is tricky stuff!). However, Dr. Margulies does present the material in a very understandable, straightforward manner, once the math concepts are conquered.

I reminded Middlest that he could pause the lesson, and look at the script that pertained to each slide, taking his time to really absorb what was being said, or the problem that was being worked. Finally, he went through the whole lesson one more time before taking the test.

Unfortunately, he didn't realize that the test results needed to be printed (I forgot to mention that quirk to him), so he moved on to another subject before I was able to see his results. I think I might move to the pdf version for future tests, just to be on the safe side! :) Or I can use this as a lesson in responsibility~ print/save/email the results, lest you be required to take the test again~ hardcopy! :D

The course consists of 15 lessons, which offers the equivalent of 1 year high school physics credit. I expect most lessons could be completed fairly easily over two weeks by a student with advanced math skills, and even by less proficient students, once they are confident in taking full advantage of accessing the material in the multiple ways in which it is presented.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
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