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Pros: Useful dashboard for teachers and notebooks for students to capture thinking. Mixes science and literacy. Good extensions.
Cons: Videos have a lot of info that comes at kids fast. Not a lot of midpoint check-ins. Some glitches. Can't turn on/off audio. Few captions.
Bottom Line: While it could use some tweaks, this tool has a great set of well-structured interactive science modules featuring some neat interactivity.
Science4Us provides full modules with multiple individual lessons/activities that cover a variety of key elementary science topics. These modules are grounded in a 5E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate) approach. Teachers assign their classes a module, choosing the specific parts of it they want students to complete and the schedule they want it completed on. Teachers can also differentiate these assignments, assigning specific content to specific students. Because of this, teachers will want to make use of the overview content and teacher guides to get a handle on the content. This will help with designing custom assignments and developing or planning any necessary custom supplements or assessments. Because individual lessons also feature handy extension resources, teachers might want to assign out just the individual portions of modules, follow up with an offline extension activity, and then move on to assigning the next part of the module.
Science4Us is a comprehensive, online early-elementary science curriculum. Designed around the 5E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate) approach, each of the 28 modules follows an established pattern. Students first work through activities featuring videos and interactives that get them to access prior knowledge. Next, simulations –- like testing the effects of heat sources and time on foods –- get students to explore the topic. Later tutorials include short audio books, cartoons, or videos. During these lessons, students respond to "Show what you know" prompts via an online notebook that the teacher can then view. Modules feature a mixture of individual and group work and then guided discussions, and conclude with a final assessment.
Modules mix science content with inquiry, math, and literacy skill building; although, some of these activities are only tangentially related to the topics being studied. Tons of teacher support includes short tutorials, detailed lesson plans, and extra printables for learning extension.
Science4Us is a great supplement to classroom instruction. In light of its cost, and because it provides an everything-done-for-you approach, some may want to make it the anchor of a curriculum. However, that's not ideal. Without more context for the underlying scientific principles, students will miss out on the messy, experimental, data-collecting type of science that they love and need. The Science4Us team could do more by providing investigations to try, material lists, and avenues for students to share class or home-gathered data with others. There's also some needed tweaks to accessibility -- notably closed captions for videos, language support, and controls for navigating the videos (rewinding, skipping forward, etc.). Still, it's a good addition to a classroom, with tons of varied content and excellent extensions that get students working offline and applying knowledge.
The resources are presented in a friendly style for early-elementary learners. It's bright and colorful and uses plenty of cartoon characters that speak (mostly) at a child's level. However, some videos feature a ton of content that comes at students fast. There are also options to have links and prompts read out loud, which is helpful for young learners. Some youngsters may not make the connection between the concepts (like pushes and pulls) and the simulations (mini golf). In addition, some concepts and vocabulary may be too advanced for younger students to fully understand.