ScienceandMath.com is a company that offers step-by-step math and science video courses for kids in Grade 1 (science) up through Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus. Jason Gibson, the creator, wanted to make learning Science and Math fun, and he wanted to teach children in a way that would make them understand the purpose of learning math and science. Jason, who is a former rocket scientist for NASA, definitely shares his enthusiasm for math and science in the DVD that we were able to review in our homeschool.
What Did We Receive?
After looking over the selections on the ScienceandMath.com website, we selected Mastering 5th Grade Math--Volume 1--Essentials of Fractions to use and review ($15.99). This DVD course is aimed at children in Grades 4-6, and is the first of four in the fifth grade series. We received the physical DVD, which contained one DVD of lessons and one of the worksheets. The first disc contained sixteen video lessons that give a comprehensive overview of fractions, from basic fraction concepts, all the way to converting improper fractions to mixed fractions and slightly beyond. The lessons that we used all featured Jason himself teaching and explaining the concepts, and they ranged from four minutes to 11-12 minutes in length.
Lesson 13: Writing Mixed Fractions as Improper Fractions
Lesson 14: Writing Improper Fractions as Mixed Fractions
Lesson 15: Thinking of Fractions as Division
Lesson 16: Writing Whole Numbers as Fractions
The second disc contained all of the worksheets for the sixteen lessons, the answer key for all of the worksheets, and a digital copy of all of the video lessons. There were usually three to four worksheets per video lesson, all covering the same ideas and concepts.
How Did We Use ScienceandMath.com?
First of all, let me be clear that, in our home, math is definitely a four-letter word! We just have not had a ton of success in using math curriculum, so I thought that this might be a good chance to change things up a bit. I used this DVD course every day with Firefly, my 5th grade math-phobic child. We started out the first day watching the video lesson (all nine minutes of it).
I made that be the whole math lesson of the day.
The next day, we sat down to review the previous day's lesson and then completed one of the worksheets that I printed off to "cement" the concept. The next day, another worksheet.
We tended to repeat this pattern throughout the time we used the course. We would watch the video the first day, or sometimes for the first two days if we needed to watch it an extra time. The following days we would work through the worksheets, one at a time. The worksheets tended to take about fifteen minutes or so--although the first few were easy for Firefly as she was somewhat familiar with the concepts. As we got more in depth into fractions, the work was more difficult, and it would take her a bit longer or an extra review of the video before she was confident enough to complete the worksheet.
What Did I Think?
I really like the idea of ScienceandMath.com. I love the idea of someone else teaching my child math very much, because it is just one of those things that I don't do very well. Jason is very enthusiastic and definitely knowledgeable about the ideas that he is sharing with the students, and he gives many examples to help the student understand the lesson.
I liked that the video lessons themselves were short enough to keep the student's attention, but long enough to give those examples. If we needed to re-watch a lesson, it wouldn't eat up a big chunk of our school time, but it would definitely help Firefly to see a lot of Jason working through problems.
The worksheets were simple to look at, and contained "just enough" problems for the student to work through, in my opinion. They were clean and easy to look at, which is important for my particular visually-distractable child. I believe that if your student were to master a concept, it wouldn't be necessary to do all of the worksheets included for a particular lesson, but we always did all of them for the extra practice.
Personally, for us, I felt that the video lessons moved too quickly. While they started out smoothly with a basic review of fraction concepts, by Lesson Four we were finding the Greatest Common Factor, and by Lesson Six we were trying to tackle Prime Factorization. It may be that since Firefly had only had the briefest introduction to fractions before this course, that she just simply wasn't ready to take off so quickly. However, we were able to tailor the course to make it work better for us by watching the lessons more than once, and by often pausing the videos to make sure she truly understood what Jason was teaching. Oftentimes he would ask a question, or ask the student to solve a problem, and he would move very quickly ahead with the answer. That tended to frustrate and stop Firefly in her tracks, and I would have to move quickly with the "pause" button. When she was given more time, she could, more often than not, solve the problem.
I think, though, that this program would work beautifully for those who are a bit more "math-minded" than we are, for a refresher course for those who are struggling a bit with fractions, or for those who work better independently than my Firefly--admittedly, probably everyone falls into one of those categories!
What Did Firefly Think?
"I thought that he explained things really well, although I did have a little trouble with the factors because he went so fast. Other than that, he explains everything well, and he makes sure that I get the concept. The worksheets were short and easy, and just went over the lesson we had done." (Firefly, age 11)
Find Out More About ScienceandMath.com's Products:
ScienceandMath.com offers video courses on a number of different topics, including three more on fractions for the 5th grade level. Most courses are available on DVD, like we received, or via download, which is slightly less expensive. ScienceandMath.com offers free sample lessons so you can see for yourself what the courses look like, as well as chances to download sample worksheets.