Science is an increasingly important component of any homeschool student’s education.
A strong science background can help students understand the fast-changing world around them and generally fosters the development of strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which can help them immensely in their academic careers and in their day-to-day lives.
With that said, there are a vast number of science curricula out there for homeschooling parents to choose from and they can vary quite a bit from one another.
As a result, it is very important to carefully evaluate each science curriculum in terms of quality, rigor and, of course, how well they fit into a family’s overall homeschooling philosophy, values and approach.
This guide explores how science curricula are usually organized and standardized, some ways in which they teach, some of the considerations parents will have to make when picking a curriculum and offers some suggested programs and resources we feel parents should check out.
How Homeschool Science Is Usually Organized through K-12
Students across the K-12 grade spectrum tend to differ quite a bit when it comes to their base knowledge, mathematical skill, capacity for learning, ability to handle abstract and complex concepts, maturity and more.
It should come as no surprise, then, that how a science curriculum approaches and organizes the study of science and its many disciplines can depend quite a bit on what grade levels we’re discussing.
It is, of course, important to note that there can be a lot of variation in how specific curricula organize themselves and their materials, but the following can provide a good general idea for new homeschooling parents.
Science Through the Elementary Grades
At the elementary school level, science curricula usually take an integrated approach.
At this level, programs tend to “chunk” various science disciplines (biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, etc) together into broader conceptual frameworks, such as Life Science, Physical Science, Earth and Space Science and so on.
Some programs may keep these subjects separate so that parents can teach these subjects individually (usually seen in upper elementary grades), while others may group them together as a general science program with specific topical units for each subject (often seen in the lower grades).
With students from K-6, homeschool science programs tend to be really more focused on providing students with foundational knowledge, keeping things pretty high-level and getting them to develop a stronger base of scientific facts from which they can build.
For example, students may learn about such topics as:
|Life Science||Physical Science||Earth Science|
|Living vs nonliving things|
Plants vs animals
Major anatomical structures and their functions
The environment and survival traits
Ecosystems and relationships
|Matter and its physical states|
Physical properties and classification methods
Energy and energy transformation
Light, color and their properties
Basics of electricity and magnetism
Electricity and simple circuits
Forces and movement
|The planet and its landscape|
Natural resources and their uses
Water and the water cycle
The planet’s rotation and revolution around the sun
Night and day, the changing seasons
Stars and the planets of the solar system
The sun and its effects on Earth and other planets
When it comes to doing science, most science programs at the elementary level are taught observationally.
Due to students’ unfamiliarity with the scientific method and their still-developing reading, writing and analytic skills, the hands-on science component of most K-6 programs tends to revolve more around demonstrations of scientific principles rather than formal experiments and labs.
Science In Middle School
By and large, at the middle school level, most homeschool science curricula still take an integrated approach, offering courses and materials to teach life, physical and earth and space science.
These are often split up over the course of a student’s middle school career, with each subject often being the focus of a year’s learning.
For example, students may spend a year learning Life Science and another doing Physical Science.
This is largely due to the fact that students’ growing knowledge and capability as a student allows them to go a far deeper into each discipline and tackle more complex ideas.
In fact, it is largely at this stage that faith-based and secular science curricula tend to become more divergent, as topics such as evolution, the fossil record, the origins of life and the universe and so on begin to be covered in some depth.
Although not a comprehensive list, middle school science may include such topics as:
|Life Science||Physical Science||Earth and Space Science|
|Major taxonomies and classifications|
Human and animal organ systems and their structures/functions
Unicellular vs multicellular organisms
The structure and function of the cell and its organelles
Reproduction, heredity and genetics
Adaptation, evolution and natural selection
The fossil record
Ecosystems and their challenges
|Classification of matter|
Pure substances vs mixtures
Compounds vs elements
The atom and its structure
The periodic table
Properties of matter, both chemical and physical
Conservation of mass
Energy and its transformations
Kinetic vs potential energy
Light, sound, heat
Conservation of energy
Properties and behavior of light and sound
The electromagnetic spectrum
Types of forces
Newton’s Laws and their application
|The physical structure and features of Earth|
The planet’s process and cycles
Plate tectonics and their effect on geological events
The geologic history of Earth
Climate, the weather and change
Human impact on the environment
The solar system
Gravity and space
Extraterrestrial planets and their features
The big bang and the origin of the universe
Stars, galaxies and the wider universe
In terms of hands-on science, at this stage students begin to learn the scientific process and about formal experimentation.
Consequently, most programs tend to introduce more formal labs and science experiments, with students being expected to do some analysis, although demonstrations tend to still be included in the curriculum (especially when more dangerous components are used).
High School-level Science
At the high school level, homeschool science curricula usually aim to round out the 3-4 years of science education required for most colleges.
At this stage, the programs usually split their subjects across different formal science disciplines.
For the most part, there is a core of biology, chemistry and physics, although many curricula providers may also include elective courses in disciplines such as Earth Science, Environmental Science, Astronomy, Computer Science and even Engineering.
At this stage, K-12 science is approached at its deepest and will often place a greater emphasis on math and critical thinking skills, rather than just teaching facts.
In terms of hands-on learning, these courses are generally centered around student-run experiments and even longer-term projects, with students expected to approach each while adhering to the scientific method and being able to report and communicate their results with formal written lab reports.
It is also at this stage that programs may be tailored to help STEM-oriented students prepare for AP exams in science.
There can be quite a few AP options for students to pick from, including:
- AP Physics 1 and 2
- AP Physics – Mechanics Electricity and Magnetism
- AP Computer Science A and Principles
- AP Chemistry
- AP Biology
- And AP Environmental Science
Although it’s important to note that not every homeschool science curriculum offers all (or even any) of these AP courses.
As such, homeschooling parents interested in AP need to look carefully at each company’s offerings or prepare to supplement.
Considerations When Picking A Homeschool Science Curriculum
Religious, Neutral or Secular
Probably more than any other subject, homeschool science is really where the choice between religious and secular programs becomes critical, both in terms of curricular coverage and in terms of overall fit.
Some curricula take a completely secular approach to teaching science, making no mention of God, religion or the Bible and fully cover topics such as evolution, the fossil record and the big bang.
Other curricula may be faith-based, viewing the natural world as part of God’s creation, avoiding or offering alternative theories on controversial topics and generally making an effort to blend faith and science together, often through the inclusion of religious-based lessons and morality.
Such programs may teach intelligent design, young earth creationism and other topics that align with particular religious values.
Finally, there are neutral curricula that try to find a happy medium between these two approaches, teaching science as a secular subject but also avoiding controversial topics and leaving them up to the parent to teach them in a manner that fits their particular belief system.
It is important to note that whether a program is secular, neutral or faith-based does not necessarily have anything to do with its rigor and, for the topics they cover, a neutral or faith-based curriculum can be just as high-quality as a secular program.
A Note About Faith-based Programs And Controversial Topics In Science
It is also important to note, as we have in our discussion of Christian homeschooling curricula, that not every faith-based program necessarily avoids covering controversial topics in science, such as evolution or the fossil record.
There are programs out there that do touch on these topics, some even to the same degree and depth as a secular program.
Such programs typically do so in order to strengthen a student’s beliefs, examining these theories, exploring them critically and offering students strong counter-points and arguments that are rooted in a faith-based worldview.
Such programs can be of interest to parents who feel that their students will likely encounter topics such as evolution later on in school or in life and would like them to develop the tools to effectively be able to handle these concepts in a safer, controlled manner.
Other parents may consider this approach to be a little dangerous as, done improperly, it can introduce unwanted doubt and confusion.
Level of Parental Involvement
Another consideration when it comes to science curricula is just how much parental involvement is required.
Some programs are strongly parent-led, requiring parents to directly teach lessons, conduct demonstrations and labs and issue and correct student work.
While these programs can be a lot of fun for parents and students alike and can really suit those who started homeschooling in order to bond and spend more time teaching their own children, they can take up a lot of time and can be an issue for those with larger families or busier schedules.
Some parents may also be concerned about their own ability to teach science, and so the level and clarity of lesson scripting can be an important issue with these programs.
Other science curricula can be considered more self-study, with students receiving instruction directly from the program materials and being guided through experiments in some manner, such as by reading chapters, using interactive software and even watching interesting and engaging videos.
Self-study science curricula can encourage key independent learning skills and take a lot of the pressure off of parents, giving them more time to deal with the many other tasks that homeschooling can involve.
It is important to note, however, that not every student may be suited for independent learning (particularly younger students or those with learning difficulties) and parents may need to keep a closer eye on things to make sure that the work gets done and that lessons are progressing as they should.
Use of Technology
Another thing parents might want to consider when picking a science curriculum is in their use of technology.
Some programs can be pretty traditional, using textbooks, workbooks and other written materials to convey information.
While perhaps not all that exciting, they can help bolster student reading and writing skills and can help reduce the amount of screentime that a student is exposed to in a given week.
They are also usually fairly affordable and highly portable, in that books and papers can be taken pretty much anywhere without having to worry about internet access or battery life.
Other programs may make use of technology to help teaching in some manner.
They may, for example, use engaging video instruction (recorded or live video, for example) to convey information, which can make lessons a lot more interesting and engaging for students.
They may also make use of digital tools that mimic laboratory equipment and technology not readily available to the average homeschooler (like lasers, satellites, robots and more), while still others may include video games or dedicated software to help practice and reinforce the learning.
Finally, a few may even provide access to a digital learning platform, complete with grading and progress tracking, which can make the whole process even more hands off for parents.
On the downside, technology-intensive science programs can involve a lot more time in front of a screen and tend to be a bit pricier compared to textbook-based alternatives.
Number of Demonstrations and Experiments Included in Each Curriculum
Science tends to be a very hands-on subject and a key component of just about every curriculum are their scientific demonstrations and experiments.
The experiential component of a science curriculum is really intended to bring concepts to life, help students come to terms with some of science’s more abstract ideas and get them used to the scientific method and its application in a lab setting.
Particularly in later grades, when lab experiments tend to involve things catching on fire, melting, freezing, exploding, fizzing or even flying, these experiments and demonstrations can also be a great way to keep kids engaged and enthusiastic about what they are doing.
Consequently, most parents will probably want as many opportunities for a student to get their hands dirty interacting with science as possible.
That said, it is also important to recognize that the more experiential activities a curriculum has, the longer their lessons can take to go through and the more materials and equipment parents will need to buy, store and keep track of over the year, which can complicate things if a parent is teaching multiple children in different grades.
NGSS And Homeschool Science Programs
What are Next Generation Science Standards?
Traditionally, in US schools, science education was largely dictated by standards and its content and methods of teaching could vary quite a bit between states.
Much like the Common Core for math and ELA, Next Generation Science Standards (or NGSS for short) are an attempt to set modern, multistate standards for science.
In addition to getting everyone more or less on the same page when it comes to teaching, the idea is to also encourage curriculum developers to move away from rote memorization and encourage higher order skills in science, such as analysis, research and communication.
In practice, NGSS sets specific learning outcomes for each taught topic in science, which are referred to as performance outcomes.
Curricula and their coverage of concepts are largely assessed based on how well they touch on three so-called NGSS strands – Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas and Cross Cutting Concepts.
Science and Engineering Practices
One way by which curricula are assessed is in how well they convey Science and Engineering Practices.
Science and Engineering Practices related to the set of skills and knowledge that students are expected to learn and become comfortable with, generally reflecting the actual practices that fully-trained scientists and engineers use when investigating or designing a solution to a problem.
In total there are 8 practices, these are:
- Asking questions and defining problems
- Developing and using models
- Planning and executing investigations
- Analyzing and interpreting data
- Utilizing math and computational thinking
- Constructing explanations or designing solutions
- Evidenced based argumentation
- Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information
Disciplinary Core Ideas
Essentially, disciplinary core ideas are the essential concepts and knowledge of a subject that a science curriculum is designed to impart, i.e. the science that a curriculum covers.
Cross Cutting Concepts
Cross Cutting Concepts are sort of the big picture ideas that apply across scientific domains that can help with connecting science knowledge and concepts in a more interdisciplinary way.
There are seven of these, which are:
- Patterns – Teaching students to recognize and observe patterns, as well as encouraging them to ask why and how they occur
- Cause and effect – which involves figuring out and establishing causal relationships, and why they might occur
- Scale, proportion and quantity – Getting practice and learning to use scale and units of measurement and quantity when investigating phenomena, as well as comparing them in terms of scale
- Systems and system models – Understanding, defining, specifying and constructing systems and models to understand and test phenomena or problems
- Energy and matter – figuring out the effect of changes in energy and matter on a system
- Structure and function – understanding the structure and function of an object or living thing and how they affect or determine its functions or properties
- Stability and change – how change occurs, how equilibrium is maintained and how this can affect systems and/or phenomena
What’s the Difference Between a NGSS-aligned and a NGSS-designed curriculum?
As with the common core there can be a difference between a NGSS-aligned and NGSS-designed curriculum.
Broadly speaking, an NGSS-designed curriculum is one built specifically to meet Next Generation Science Standards as laid out in the Framework for K–12 Science Education.
An NGSS-aligned curriculum, on the other hand, is one that, at a minimum, meets Next Generation standards for science instruction but may or may not have been designed with it in mind.
These may be radically different from those used in public schools and may even exceed NGSS in terms of depth and topical coverage.
Common Methods of Teaching Science At Home
Homeschool science curricula can differ quite a bit in how they approach teaching science, which means that most parents can fairly easily find a method that will work best with their child and general homeschooling philosophy.
A more traditional way of teaching science, direct instruction generally involves a parent (or courseware in the case of self-study) conveying information and knowledge to the student in a top-down manner, usually followed up with some kind of follow up activity for reinforcement.
This can be a very efficient way of teaching in terms of time, but of course depends heavily on the quality of the instructional material, student attention and, of course, motivation.
Project-based science learning (PBL)
Project-based learning is a way of teaching science that centers the learning around projects that the student completes.
More centered around the student, project-based science learning gives a student an open-ended problem that they will have to define, analyze, research, come up with a solution for and, eventually, design and implement a solution.
Science learning is integrated into the project as part of the investigation and development process, and may involve cross-disciplinary work.
Problem-based science learning (PrBL)
Somewhat similar to project-based learning (and often confused for it), project based learning is another student centered approach that involves students being presented with real world problems to solve.
In order to do so, students have to define the problem, research the issue, come up with potential solutions and then put together some kind of plan of action.
Usually a little shorter and often more subject specific, problem based learning doesn’t typically involve students trying to implement their solution as part of an actual project or prototype.
Inquiry-based (or discovery-based) science learning
Another student-centric approach, inquiry-based learning is centered around student discovery.
Students might be presented with some kind of science-based phenomenon or idea and then are given the freedom to explore and pursue answers on their own.
It differs from project- and problem-based learning in that students aren’t given a particular (and often real world) problem to solve but instead choose what they want to explore and learn about.
Resources We Recommend
Secular and Neutral Curricula
R.E.A.L Science Odyssey
Style: Direct Instruction
REAL Science Odyssey is a secular homeschool science curriculum that covers Life Science, Biology, Earth Science, Physics, Chemistry and even Astronomy.
The program uses an integrated textbook/workbook to teach its materials, each of which is dedicated to a single subject and is written in a clear and straightforward way with plenty of illustrations and parent-friendly scripting at the lower grades.
At the same time, the program is known for being fairly rigorous and introduces students pretty early on to sophisticated concepts and proper science vocabulary.
It also contains a wide variety of hands-on and multisensory activities, with most lessons having some kind of demonstration or experiment for students to work on.
Read our review of R.E.A.L Science Odyssey for more information
Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding
A relatively well-known secular science program in homeschool communities, Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding (or BFSU for short) is a science curriculum that is divided into three volumes (aimed at different grades) that cover four major science subjects:
- The Nature of Matter
- Life Science
- Physical Science
- Earth and Space Science
The program introduces these subjects in an unusual but effective spiraling manner that presents students with a strong, holistic view of science.
An inquiry-based approach, the program poses essential questions for students and allows students to explore concepts by questioning, debating and reasoning their way through the material using their natural curiosity and guided, back-and-forth dialogues with their parents.
In addition to the usual demonstrations and experiments, which are more tightly woven into lessons than with many other programs, BFSU also offers students a number of interesting, Charlotte Mason-style journaling and notebooking activities, which can be kind of cool.
Read our in-depth review of BFSU for more information
Style: Direct instruction
Elemental Science is a neutral science program that takes a classical education approach to teaching science.
Covering Biology, Earth and Space Science, Chemistry and Physics (as distinct disciplines, interestingly), the overall curriculum is divided into the classical trivium (Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric).
The program generally uses direct instruction, but also dives into concepts a little deeper using an assortment of high-interest spines (such as Usborne, Kingfisher and DK science books), science-oriented books and biographies, memory work, notebooking, narration/sketching and an assortment of mini-projects to round out a student’s studies.
Experiments and demonstrations are typically done weekly with Elemental and can be quite interesting, and the program also includes a good deal of multisensory activities as well.
Read our in-depth review of Elemental Science for more information
A sister program to Elemental Science, Sassafras Science is quite interesting and unusual for a homeschool science program in that it uses a distinctly literature-based approach to teach its material.
Covering a variety of topics, from Zoology to Astronomy, the program introduces important scientific facts and knowledge through the use of a series of adventure novels that follow a pair of twins and their globe-spanning adventures.
Sliding science learning into an engaging series of books can be a fun way to introduce science topics, and the program reinforces its learning through demonstrations and hands-on activities, as well as a variety of Charlotte Mason-style exercises, such as copywork, dictation, journaling, lapbooking, and even living books.
Read our in-depth review of Sassafras Science for more information
Produced by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Science fusion is an inquiry-based science program that uses both print and digital learning materials to teach topics in Life Science, Earth Science and Physical Science.
The program introduces students to big picture questions and allows them to go off and gather information from its lesson books, activities, digital resources and demonstrations.
Rather uniquely, the program is multimodal, so parents and students have the option of using either fully color print books, digital resources (such as virtual science tools, online instructional videos, interactive encyclopedia entries, digital labs and so on) or a combination of both.
Read our in-depth review of Science Fusion for more information
Elevate Science is a problem-based science curriculum that structures its learning in a rather unique way.
Rather than having distinct units on life or physical science, each grade of the program blends subjects together into broader, integrated science topics (e.g. matter and transformations, the Earth’s biosystem, population, community and ecosystems, water and land, etc) that make the program far more holistic and interdisciplinary than others.
It also rather uniquely integrates print and digital learning, with worktexts explaining concepts and providing instructions for physical demonstrations while also directing students to digital resources such as online videos, virtual labs, digital experiments and more.
Read our in-depth review of Elevate Science for more information
Supercharged science is a neutral, self-paced online homeschool science curriculum that offers courses in Earth Science, Geology, Life Science, Physical Science, Electronics, Physical Science and more.
The program uses a combination of engaging, multimedia instructional videos (or, optionally, tele-classes) and exercise-filled student packets that allow most students (above grade 3 or so) to work more independently on their science work, which can give parents a bit of a break.
In addition, the program offers a huge number of engaging demonstrations and experiments (over 1500 or 60-80 per unit) that allow students to get quite a bit of experience “doing science.”
Read our in-depth review of Supercharged Science for more information
Nancy Larson Science
Nancy Larson Science is a parent-led, neutral science curriculum that is rigorous, easy to teach and very experiential.
Each level in the program covers a variety of different topics from across Life, Physical and Earth and Space Science, and does so using a combination of straightforward and highly scripted lessons, worksheets, science-related literature and a variety of teaching aides (such as word charts, glossaries, online resources and more).
The curriculum is also notable for its frequent use of demonstrations and experiments (one or more per lesson), which give students a lot of opportunity to get their hands dirty doing science, and for its in-depth topical coverage and emphasis on vocabulary development.
Read our in-depth review of Nancy Larson Science for more information
Style: Direct instruction
Mystery Science is a secular, self-study video-based homeschool science curriculum.
Its website provides homeschooling and classroom-based students with access to an online learning platform containing tons of digital lessons across a wide variety of science units and lesson plans.
These lessons contain video-based multimedia lectures, discussions, hands-on demonstrations and a host of interesting extension activities, such as discussion ideas, readings, videos, projects and more, that can take learning even deeper.
The program is quite flexible as well,, allowing students and parents free-choice in what levels and topics they would like to study, which its pretty cool and allows for a good deal of personalized learning.
Read our in-depth review of Mystery Science for more information
Exploration Education Physical Science
Exploration Education is a physical science course for students that uses a combination of illustrated and animated science lessons, videos, photos to introduce students to a wide variety of physical science topics.
More than that, the program weaves engaging and fascinating projects (such as rockets, banjos, race cars and more) into each of its lessons, connecting science concepts to a more dynamic, learning-by-doing methodology.
In addition, as the digital lessons and projects are quite well laid out and explained (and are read aloud at earlier grades), students should be able to do much of the learning on their own, something that many busy parents will appreciate.
Read our in-depth review of Exploration Education for more information
Style: Direct instruction
Noeo Science is a neutral science curriculum that integrates elements from Charlotte Mason, unit studies and Classical education into its approach.
The curriculum covers Biology, Chemistry and Physics and is divided into the classical trivium.
To teach, the program makes use of hands-on experiments and demonstrations, vocabulary work, journaling/notebooking exercises and even an extensive list of living books and illustrated reference guides, which add a literature-based component to each lesson that is kind of cool.
They also contain a wide variety of demonstrations and experiments, many of which can be quite fascinating and fun for both students and parents, such as creating a boat out of matches, building a windmill, making a tornado and more.
Interestingly, the curriculum does contain lessons on evolution and the fossil record, although the program encourages parents to discuss them in a manner that fits their own beliefs and values
Read our in-depth review of Noeo Science for more information
Lyrical Life Science
Style: Music-integrated direct instruction
Lyrical Life Science is an interesting, neutral curriculum aimed at students in upper elementary to middle school.
The program teaches students life science facts and concepts fairly comprehensively through its hand-illustrated and approachably written textbook, but where it really stands out is in its integration of music and song.
To help students better remember key facts without a lot of dedicated drill or memory work, each chapter introduces its key ideas and concepts through fun and memorable songs based on classic American folk tunes (think “Oh Suzanna” but “Oh Bacteria,” instead).
In addition, the program also offers links to a host of internet resources and helps reinforce learning though a variety of dedicated workbook exercises.
Rear our in-depth review of Lyrical Life Science for more information
Style: Direct instruction
Science Shepherd is a self-study homeschool science program that blends rigorous science learning with a strong Christian worldview.
The program teaches using a variety of short, but highly interesting, videos, approachably written textbooks (for those in upper grades), workbooks and lab work.
Diving into its subject matter in considerable depth and with impressive rigor, Science Shepherd aims to get students thinking logically and critically about the world around them with information rich texts, interesting exercises and detailed and comprehensive assessments.
At the same time, the program frequently connects science learning to Christian thought and Biblical events and, while it is a young-earth creationist curriculum, it never shies away from controversial topics in science (such as the fossil record or evolution), using them as an opportunity for critical examination and as a way of bolstering its faith-based outlook through logical, apologetic arguments.
Read our in-depth review of Science Shepherd for more information
Style: Direct instruction
Named after the scholarly yet devout inhabitants of Berea, Berean Builders is a Christian homeschool science curriculum that blends faith and science into an activity-rich whole.
The program is divided into two main programs, a history-integrative Science In History program, which explores scientific development and science facts across six eras of history, and Discovering Design, a more formal high school level science program that covers Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Earth Science.
Both programs include a wide variety of demonstrations and experiments into their lessons and help students learn science through detailed and comprehensive, yet casually written, textbooks.
The program’s outlook is strongly Christian, viewing science and the natural world as proof of God and His Works and integrating a good deal of scripture into its lessons.
At the same time, it introduces hot-button topics such as evolution, encouraging students to critically examine them with carefully structured counter-arguments in order to strengthen their beliefs.
Read our in-depth review of Berean Builders for more information
Style: Direct instruction
Apologia’s science programs are well-known in the Christian homeschooling world for providing strong science learning alongside equally strong Christian values.
The company offers courses for elementary through high school in a diversity of subjects such as biology, chemistry, botany, astronomy, zoology, Earth Science, and teaches them to a fairly high standard, using detailed, narrative-style textbooks, vocabulary work, conceptual questions and, of course, a good deal of demonstrations and lab work.
While pretty explicitly and strongly creationist in outlook, the program does introduce concepts such as evolution and the fossil record as alternative theories, largely so that students can engage in more meaningful dialogue and defend their beliefs if called to do so.
Check out our in-depth review of Apologia Biology as an example of their curricula
Curricular Resources, Enrichment and Support
Style: On-demand video supplement
Billing itself as the “Netflix of the classroom,” Generation Genius is a secular, standards-aligned subscription service that provides parents and students access to a wide range of science videos and learning materials across a range of grades.
Each video in the program is a standalone lesson that covers a particular topic in a subject and does so using a highly dynamic teaching style, with demonstrations, props, animations, location shoots and more.
Following the video, students and parents can make use of a variety of lesson plans, practice problems, discussion questions, extra readings and even extra readings to take things further.
Read our in-depth review of Generation Genius for more information
Style: On-demand and live online classes
NGSS-aligned: Depends on the class
Outschool is a provider of online classes intended for children between the ages of 3 and 18 that contains a wide variety of science courses for students to choose from.
Taking something of a micro school approach to online teaching, all outschool classes are taught by certified teachers, professionals and passionate individuals and generally are run like true online courses, running for several weeks to several months and with learning goals, homework, assignments set out and assigned at the discretion of the teacher.
In terms of science learning, Outschool contains a wide variety of courses, both of a formal and casual nature, including AP prep, full yearly science courses, fact-based “fun” courses, science camps and more.
As a result, the service can be used as either a main teaching method or as a supplement to an existing curriculum.
Read our review of Outschool for more information
Style: Project-based learning kits
MEL Science is a subscription-based provider of science kits that integrate project-based learning with cool high tech learning options.
MEL offers kits covering everything from general science to Chemistry, Physics and even Medicine, and each month the company sends out a package containing a couple subject-specific science projects or experiments.
The company also offers a specific app that interacts with these kits, providing detailed visual instructions on how to set up and run the projects, video demonstrations, troubleshooting help and pretty detailed lessons on the science behind them.
Interestingly, the company also makes use of VR and augmented reality technology.
The programs Chemistry and Physics kits come with VR goggles that allow students to access a virtual lab with interactive, immersive lessons and activities, while the subscriptions to Mel Kids (aimed at younger students) make use of augmented reality cards.
Place these on the floor and scan them with a mobile device’s camera and a 3D representation of a kit’s project will appear, providing students with a tiny, virtual version of their science project to play around with and learn from through built-in cartoon lessons.
Check out our in-depth review of Mel Science for more information
Check out our in-depth review of Mel Chemistry for more information about one of their subject-specific subscriptions
About the Author
Anne Miller is the editor of The Smarter Learning Guide and is a passionate advocate for education and educational technology. A mom of two, she majored in English Language and Literature and worked as a substitute teacher and tutor for several years. When not writing she continues to root for the Yankees and the Giants.
About the Author
David Belenky is a freelance writer, former science and math tutor and a tech enthusiast. When he’s not writing about educational tech, he likes to chill out with his family and dog at home.