Review by Debbie Gorrell, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2017


Engage young scientists with the 5E model, kid-friendly lessons

Subjects & skills
  • Science

  • Critical Thinking
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Pros: Lesson plans are very detailed and incorporate a variety of worksheets, digital activities, videos, and hands-on classroom activities.

Cons: Assessment is limited to basic multiple-choice quizzes, and standards alignment could be stronger.

Bottom Line: Engaging, interactive lesson plans help students grasp elementary science concepts.

Teachers can best use Koantum as a supplement to a K–5 science curriculum. The site offers teacher and student dashboards, making it easy to incorporate lessons into a unit. Use the Engage section of lessons to introduce topics. Once kids have learned more about the topics through classroom instruction, complete other parts of the lessons as you complete the unit; the digital activities are excellent opportunities for kids to explore independently. There are direct links to YouTube videos, so teachers need to keep an eye on students' access to potentially iffy content.

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Koantum covers elementary school science using the 5E model of instruction: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate. Teachers have access to a dashboard, which they can use to add students, track progress, and access lesson plans and printable worksheets. The lesson plans are very thorough and are scripted in some places to help guide teachers through the instruction.

Students also have access to a dashboard so they can sign in on their own and choose a lesson. Most lessons are aligned with a Next Generation Science Standard, but not all standards are covered, and some existing coverage is weak. In fact, there is a noticeable lack of engineering coverage.

Students can explore content in a variety of ways, which makes Koantum a good resource for differentiated instruction. The 5E model can be a very effective instructional strategy that enhances traditional curricula; as kids step through each "E" section of a lesson, they gain a deeper understanding of the content. Most of the 5E sections are very well done, but the Evaluate section could be improved with the addition of some constructed response questions that require higher-order thinking.

Kids will feel empowered to learn since they can log on and access lessons on their own. Hints and detailed feedback for incorrect answers are not given, so teachers will need to provide support for struggling learners. Hopefully lessons that cover engineering standards will be added some time in the future; with the addition of some engineering lessons and more challenging assessments, this site could be a home run as a supplementary science resource.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Animated digital lessons and fun hands-on activities will get kids excited to learn about science.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

The 5E model of instruction engages and helps to build deep understanding of important concepts.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Kids get simple "trigger" feedback for incorrect answers, but hints and instructional feedback are lacking. The lesson plans are excellent guides for teachers.

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