Tuesday, April 16

CrossWired Science {Review}

CrossWired Science is revolutionizing the way science is taught! Designed to be used in any setting - home or classroom - this curriculum focuses on a singular topic and then pulls in connections to strengthen the information retention. We recently had a chance to look inside their Sound, and Fluid Dynamics, and it's a wealth of information!

Designed for students aged 4-18, this program covers a wide range of interests and levels.  Each 'project' contains two topics, such as the Sound, and Fluid Dynamics project.  The company plans to release fifteen different projects, for a total of thirty topics spanning physics and earth and life sciences.  These topics are broken into two different levels: First Timers and Second Timers.  When you purchase CrossWired Science, you get access to all of the projects for a full year.  Each of the class sessions is 45-60 minutes long.

For younger students or those who are going through the material for the first time, it is suggested that you begin with the First Timers strand.  For those with a background in science (older children) or those who have already completed the first strand, begin with the Second Timers strand.  Two of the biggest differences between the strands are:
  1. The questions for the core videos are more difficult in the second strand.
  2. The written part of the Gold Digs and Digging Deeper sections are more complex in the second strand.

Each of the core projects in CrossWired Science is broken up into mini-lessons.  There are twelve different types of lessons presented, in the following methods:
  1. Core videos - There are eight core videos for each topic.  Material within the videos runs the gamut from introductory to expert level, but is meant to be understood by all ages.
  2. Experiments - A few different experiments are presented.  Some will only need supplies from your home, while others require purchase of supplies.  It is not necessary to complete the experiments; they are optional.
  3. General Links - These are related to the core videos, and are typically embedded YouTube videos.  There is enough information here to take about a week, if you decide to view everything.
  4. Unit Links - Divided into three different levels (so you can target the right age range), these are little bunny trails that lead off of the main topic but still have some sort of connection.
  5. U-Choose - This is a project or activity that gets hands-on.
  6. Field Trips - Suggested field trips to help reinforce or learn more about the topic.
  7. Reinforcement - Again, different ideas for reinforcing the concepts.  There are suggestions for a wide age range here.
  8. Research - The company states, "The main purpose of this project is also not firstly to learn anything.  It’s more to build comfort in tackling one’s own research.  It’s to build discernment in what is interesting and important and correct and what is not.  It’s to build the ability to discern the trustworthiness of various sources.  With an unprecedented amount of information being added to the 'the world’s data base' every year, the ability to glean the precious from the worthless is a greatly needed skill."
  9. Reading - There are ten different suggested reading plans to select from, each focusing on a different style or age range, to reinforce the topic being studied.  If you are a Charlotte Mason family, this will be your first stop.
  10. Gold Digs - A handful of 'gold digs,' each containing twenty-five or more smaller pieces, dives off into many different directions.  The goal here is to forge connections between the main topic and other interesting ideas.  There are questions to assess understanding here, too.
  11. Digging Deeper - Similar to the gold digs, these are directly related to the topic at hand.  There is a distinct difference in these two sections between the First & Second Timers' curricula.  The text and questions are much more difficult for the Second Timers.  Both the Gold Digs and Digging Deeper have printable worksheets.
  12. Devotions - These are short essays that relate to the topic.  There are also questions to help the student forge stronger connections to the material.

Teacher Portal
Each student has their own login and password, which allows them to pick up right where they left off.  It tracks their progress and reports it to the teacher.  Quizzes are automatically graded, giving instant feedback.  Teachers are able to access quiz results, see how much progress the student has made, and access all of the links and materials.  All quizzes in the student portal (regardless of topic or level) are combined together for one comprehensive grade.  Essays must be hand-graded, as they are only assigned a 'complete' status.

Looking Ahead
There are still a few kinks to work out, such as parental controls for resetting quizzes.  These are coding issues that the company is currently working to address.  They are also in the process of adding another twenty-eight topics.  The fifteen "projects" (two topics each) are designed to be studied over a period of ten years, encompassing elementary through high school.  In the end, the thirty selected topics will cover major ground in the fields of earth science, life sciences, and physics.

We spent a lot of time poking around through both the First and Second Timers strands, looking to see the ins and outs of the program.  I like how it uses the unit study theory of doing multiple things, and teaching to different modalities, around a singular subject.  Using that subject to make connections only helps to ensure better retention.  Another aspect that I like is the classical approach, where the student wraps back around and covers the same material every few years, thus encouraging deeper exploration and understanding of the material.  It's a flexible curriculum, and very child-directed, but it's a little bit too flexible for our family's use.  Although they provide a suggested calendar for working through the curriculum, we prefer something with a little more structure.  If your family prefers flexibility, this might be a great option!

See what others are saying about CrossWired Science at the Schoolhouse Review Crew!
Crew DisclaimerSound, and Fluid Dynamics {CrossWired Science Reviews}

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