Wednesday, July 19

Battle of New Orleans (Johnny Horton)

At the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum in Shreveport, we got to see battle gear!  The boys are all about weapons and war right now (old enough to think it's cool; young enough to still be innocent), so they got really interested in the Battle of New Orleans and the War of 1812 after seeing these exhibits.

The War of 1812 was America's "second war for independence."  It was only with the assistance of the pirate Jean Lafitte that Andrew Jackson and his troops held off the British during this important battle.  Since then, he has been known as "the pirate & patriot Jean Lafitte." At the museum, we saw swords, money, uniform hats, and other artifacts leftover from this battle.

Jean Lafitte Resources
Battle of New Orleans Resources

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Tuesday, July 18

Doctor Aviation - Family Review

Doctor Aviation
If you’ve followed our journey for any length of time, then you know that aviation is celebrated in a big way around here!  We have multiple aviation-themed field trips each year, and find as many ways to work it into our school day as possible. 

When we first discovered Doctor Aviation, my son began salivating right at the keyboard!  Although it’s a high school level course, I acquiesced, and we are spending a semester doing in-depth studies on multiple facets of aviation.  Some are things we’ve studied in the past, but many of them are far deeper than we’ve taken it before, and there are also off-the-beaten-track topics, too! 

This go-around, we’re primarily using it as a summer unit study, and for the vast majority of his Boy Scouts Aviation Merit Badge.  However, we give this program an A+ and plan to re-subscribe when he gets to high school – as an elective!

The Program
There are fifteen lessons included in the entire semester.  Each one has a video, downloading PDFs, and suggestions for extra learning.

Lessons include :
  • PDF of “To Learn More” suggestions (books, videos, hands-on activities, research, writing assignments, etc)
  • PDF of “Guided Notes” (fill in the blanks / questions about the video)
  • 45-60 minute video
  • Exam Notes / Exams (not included in every lesson)
Each of the videos includes three twenty-minute long sections :
  1. Technical Trivia (about the mechanics of flying itself and being a pilot)
  2. Notable Innovator (about a famous aviator)
  3. Legendary Aircraft (about a specific plane)
I like how the videos cover all three topics, with limited review from previous lessons included as well.  When it became clear that they were a little long for my 10 year old’s attention (even with his interest in flying), we were able to easily break them into three shorter segments to watch separately.  The course combines raw footage and graphics with the lecture format.  ‘Doctor Aviation’ incorporates anecdotes from his actual experiences into the lectures, bringing the concepts to life!

The course covers history, science, vocabulary, and technology, but it also has fun trivia, too – like how the P-51 Mustang got its name!  The lecture format is where my little one got lost, but it is very appropriate for the intended grade level.  As an adult or high school course, this is fabulously done!  It is a very appropriate level of coursework for an elective, and I look forward to having my son take it again when he reaches that level.

Our Experience
If we were going to spread this course out over an entire semester, we would do one lesson per week, and then spend the rest of the week doing written activities and projects pertaining to that lesson.  When we re-subscribe in a few years, this will be how I have him go through the course, as it will be counting for an elective credit then.  Right now, however, my airplane-minded son is only ten years old, and this was his in-depth summer learning project. 

He watched one lesson every other day, completing the accompanying worksheets as he watched it, and then we talked about the program together.  (I also watched and listened, but from the kitchen – usually while doing chores.  This gave him the grown-up experience of taking the course alone.)  On the ‘off’ day, he did research to further explore topics that had peaked his interest from the previous day’s lecture.  Although some of the material was over his head (after all, it is intended for high school students and adults), it was not so much so that he could not enjoy it and learn quite a bit from it.

Completing this course gave him all of the background knowledge required for the Aviation Merit Badge for Boy Scouts.  We then took a trip to a local airport for the hands-on component.  I’m all about combining school with badges, as y’all well know!  

Just the Facts

  • $99 / semester
  • Online-streaming
  • Downloadable / printable components
  • Exams offered
  • Counts as a semester of high school elective credit


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Tuesday, July 11

Fascinating Physics - Review

High School science can be intimidating to a homeschool mom, especially one that may not have excelled in this area during her own high school days.  As our son matures, we’ve allowed him to have more student-directed learning…focusing on topics he is most interested in.  Lately, that topic has been Physics, so when Fascinating Education gave us the opportunity to review Fascinating Physics with a one-year subscription, we jumped on it!

The course is geared for high school, but could be used with an advanced 8th grader. It does go off the assumption that the student has a working knowledge of algebra and geometry. (Fascinating Education recommends this course order :  Chemistry, Biology, Physics.)  Fascinating Physics includes 15 lessons, covering over 150 subjects – each with its own video, text script, and assessment.  You can access a course outline to see a more in-depth course explanation for each course on the site.
My son liked the course well enough that it was the first thing he asked to do each day.  He logged in, completed the videos and assignments, and then he would ‘teach’ me about everything he had learned!  (There is no need for both a student and parent account – everything is mainstreamed within one account.)  One of the aspects he liked about the first lessons was how they applied the science to forensics, which is something he's recently shown an interest in.  In the above photo, with the graph, we are learning about how body temperature can tell time of death.

The Lessons include:
  • Lesson 1: Movement
  • Lesson 2: Vectors
  • Lesson 3: Forces
  • Lesson 4: Energy-Work-Power
  • Lesson 5: Circular Motion
  • Lesson 6: Fluids and Gases
  • Lesson 7: Waves
  • Lesson 8: Light, Part 1
  • Lesson 9: Light, Part 2
  • Lesson 10: Light, Part 3
  • Lesson 11: Electrical Charges
  • Lesson 12: Moving Electrical Charges
  • Lesson 13: Electrical Currents
  • Lesson 14: The Atom
  • Lesson 15: The Nucleus

The lessons center around videos.  They can be lengthy at times, but there is a great tool on the side of the screen where it breaks each segment into sub-segments.  This is handy for if you want to pause and come back later, or if you need to spend a bit more time on a particular concept.  If you have to stop midway through a video, your account will remember where and take you right back there to pick it up later. 

Each lesson also includes a downloadable / printable PDF script of the video, complete with all of the visual information.  This was SO helpful to my son – especially when he wanted to print something out to ‘teach’ me later.  (It’s not uncommon for me to feign ignorance to allow him the opportunity to teach me something – teachers do it all the time in school when they have students teach other students.  It helps to cement concepts within the brain; plus, if needed, I will occasionally point out where he has something not quite right.)

Finally, each lesson has an interactive assessment to review the material.  Links to the answer explanations are included so that the student can review any incorrect answers.

The videos go at a slow enough pace to follow, but fast enough to prevent boredom.  They are clearly spoken and line up well with the visuals.  Spend some time using educational videos on YouTube, and you’ll know that this is a blessing!  The first couple of lessons are super tedious, and we did have to push through them (he was ready to give up), but it’s because there is a lot of formulaic work and setting up the basics for better comprehension later on.  I’m happy to say that once you get deeper into the program (not too deep), the lessons become considerably more engaging!

One concern I have is that it’s touted as a full year high school science credit.  According to the FAQs, the content in the course is similar to that found in other high schools physics classes.  However, in terms of the amount of material, it doesn't seem to add up to the approximate 120-150 hours of coursework necessary for full year Physics class.  It seems to me that additional resources would need to be added to this class in order for me to feel confident that my student was doing work worthy of a high school course.

The c
ompany also offers Fascinating Chemistry (with labs), Fascinating Biology, Fascinating Medicine, and Fascinating Atoms & Molecules.

Fascinating Education
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