Review by Christie Thomas, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2013

Science4Us

Lots of elementary science curriculum, but content lacks some depth

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Teachers say (1 Review)
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Grades
K-3 This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
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Pros: As digital science stops offering complete and well-planned units, this site can captivate and motivate youngsters.

Cons: There aren't many checkpoints for meaningful understanding, so kids may successfully complete tasks yet still miss underlying scientific concepts.

Bottom Line: This all-inclusive science curriculum for early elementary engages and instructs but leaves out “real” investigatory, data-collecting science.

While you help some students measure bean plants, play tug-of-war, or discuss the function of animal tails, other youngsters can fly solo with the site’s corresponding online activities. Through your teacher dashboard, you can assign specific tasks to individuals or simply put the whole unit into the class docket. Kids can complete tasks again and again. Not all of your group will grasp all of the content, but the exposure won’t hurt. You can feel assured that the information on this site is rich in content and great at connecting to other areas.

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Science4Us is a comprehensive, online early-elementary science curriculum. Designed around the 5E (engage, explore, explain…) approach, each unit follows an established pattern. Students first access prior knowledge through prompts in their online notebook. Next, simulations –- like testing the effects of heat sources and time on foods –- allow kids to explore the topic. Subsequent tutorials include short audio books, cartoons, or video segments. During these lessons, kids are prompted to “Show what you know,” keeping them engaged and cycling them back if they get a question wrong.

Units contain multiple fun practice activities, many of which utilize the science content to address inquiry, math, and literacy skills. Various assessments are available online and offline, some differentiated for grade levels. Teacher support is immense: short Web tutorials, detailed lesson plans, and extra printable materials.

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Science4Us is a great supplement to your classroom instruction. In light of its cost, and because it provides an everything-done-for-you approach, some may want to embrace it solely. However, herein lies the danger: Without more context for the underlying scientific principles, kids 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.

Definitely geared for early-elementary learners, the site reads all directions and text aloud. Icons allow for replaying instructions, accessing glossaries, or viewing mini-lessons. Information is provided in words as well as pictures or video, and is almost always snipped into few-minute chunks. Unfortunately, vocabulary is stressed more than necessary. Some youngsters may not make the connections between the concepts (like pushes and pulls) and the simulations (mini-golf).

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Overall Rating
3

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

Science4Us captivates early-elementary kids. Tutorials and activities are only minutes long and focus on snippets of content. Quick notebook entries and simulations provide practice, while silly animations entertain and instruct.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
3

Facts and simple ideas are covered, but real scientific investigation for a deeper understanding is missing. Students may not connect the simulations and games with their underlying principles.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
3

The site reads aloud all text and uses images and videos to illustrate topics. Task completion is clear through awarded stars, but progress within is not. Help is easy to find, but some directions are too complex.


Common Sense Reviewer
Christie Thomas Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

4
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Featured review by
Debra D. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
4
K-2nd Grade Science Fun!

Overall I liked this site. It offered a variety of lessons that are linked with national and state science standards. The videos are short, informative and fun for students. I did have a hard time navigating around the site so teachers really need to want to invest the time to get the information out of it. I also is only for grades K-2 which is a bummer for teachers in higher grades. I do like that they have an app coming out soon!!

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