So, if you hadn’t noticed, we really love science. This year, Sarah’s decided she wants to pursue biology (in an introductory sense) and chemistry (in a rather startling amount of detail). Since my last science courses were, I don’t know, a decade ago, and since we often shy away from formal curriculum for various reasons, I’ve been pondering how to help make this happen!
Meanwhile, we have a kind of a love-hate relationship with math. Sarah has made some huge leaps in her understanding of it during our time homeschooling, but it’s not like she begs to learn more about it like she does with science. And, as unschoolers, we firmly believe in real-world math, not textbooks, so we’re often looking for ways to help explain how concepts algebra and geometry work in real life.
So when we received a chance to review a new math and science online tutoring program, Uzinggo, it seemed like a good way to expand our resource library.
Using it, we’ve found we can dig deeper into the topics Sarah’s passionate about (more than we could on our own) and also get quick explanations of the things that she’d rather not spend much time on!
Using Uzinggo as unschoolers
Uzinggo is designed to offer online learning in math and science for middle-schoolers and high-schoolers. In our case, since Sarah is in eighth grade (ish), and since her interests and understanding span a variety of levels, we chose to review both the Middle School Math & Science Combo and the High School Math & Science Combo.
Middle-school math includes Math Foundations, Pre-Algebra and Algebra Foundations, each with 4 to 7 subtopics or “Zingpaths” containing as many individual animations or videos, well-illustrated and narrated, with built-in practice problems, assessments and enrichment activities.
High-school math covers Algebra 1, Geometry and Algebra 2 in the same way.
The middle-school science bundle includes Life Science, Physical Science and Earth and Space Science.
The high-school science package comprises Biology, Chemistry (our favorite!), Physics, and a more advanced Earth and Space Science.
There are also prep courses to help students get ready for the advanced topics, and review courses to help solidify learning in both the middle- and high-school programs.
One of the biggest benefits to us as unschoolers is the ability to work in any order we choose. While you can certainly work through a topic, such as chemistry, “in order,” you can also pick any individual Zingpath (or any individual online lesson) and pull it up as needed.
Meanwhile, in a huge benefit when compared with other online services (for us), the built-in assessments, while amazing, are optional – meaning we can get the information without a “test” requirement!
This is great for how we learn!
Virtual science labs
THIS was the part of Uzinggo that Sarah dug into. She spent more than an hour doing virtual experiments in the Chemistry Zingpath demonstrating the law of conservation of matter and how to balance a chemical equation – with all of the results, but no Bunsen burner required!
I have to admit, I was surprised at how well Sarah picked up this fairly advanced math and science topic. She was able to balance fairly complicated chemical equations with almost no help from me (though I was watching along with her, in case she needed help tackling this high-school topic!), and she aced the 10-question quiz afterward!
Her opinion? “It’s really fun. I like chemistry!”
Short and sweet. I like it. And even more, I like that in less than an hour, she was able to cover the basics of types of chemical reactions (decomposition, synthesis and double replacement), learned to balance equations, and found out WHY and HOW these reactions occur and why you have to end up with what you start with, albeit arranged differently.
This is incredibly important for a learner like Sarah, who wants to “get the information and go.” So many courses would take an hour on each concept, but instead, Sarah was able to practice with a few key problems and move quickly through the material.
Unschooling and homeschooling resources
As I mentioned, we’re not particularly “completist” about our learning. You can see above our summary of the Zingpaths Sarah has been working on (heavy into chemistry, of course!) as well as the percentage complete.
While I’m not sure our intention is to get 100% done, this is a hugely valuable tool to track progress, and here in Pennsylvania, it’ll be a key addition to our required portfolio documentation!
Making learning fun
Earlier this year, I took a course on gamification – the application of game theories and experiences to non-“play” situations.
We are big fans of making things fun in our family. So when Sarah found out she could create her own Uzinggo character, and use the “Zings” she earns by completing learning activities to change her outfit and “home,” she was thrilled!
She also loved the round of applause the system gave her when she completed a Zingpath, as well as the badges she earned for her great scores on her assessment!
I highly recommend the Uzinggo platform, and further, I highly recommend that if you’re going to participate in it, you make use of the game experience part as much as possible. For instance, Sarah found out by browsing the “badges” that you can get one for logging on five days in a row. Guess what she decided to do tomorrow because of it? These virtual rewards are a real motivator!
Get a discount on Uzinggo
I’m thrilled to be able, as part of the review team, to offer a 15% discount on the Uzinggo service! Just enter promo code iHomeschool15 when you check out here!
The code is good for 15% off each month for up to a year, if you’re buying a monthly-access pass, or off the total yearly cost of a package. And it’s good FOR a full year, so if you buy one package now, say middle school, and want to add high school later, use it again to get another 15% off!
Don’t forget to check out more from Uzinggo on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Google Plus! Also, if you join, look for SarahTheAwesome in the leaderboard – that’s us!