Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Confessions of an Ex-Nerd

Let's get this post started off with some silly nerd jokes, just for fun:

Q. What did the proton say to the electron?
A. Stop being so negative.

A neutron walks into a restaurant and orders a soda.
Upon being asked the price, the waitress responds, "For you? No charge."

Two Hydrogen atoms were walking down the street.
One atom trips and falls and says, "Ohh Noo... I think I lost an electron!"
The other atom replies, "Are you sure?"
The first atoms exclaims, "I'm Positive!"

These are for little nerds:
Q.What does a proud computer call his little son? A: A microchip off the old block....
Q. How does Bill Gates enter his house? A. He uses "windows"....
Q.What did the computer expert do over the weekend? A. He went for a disk drive....
Q. What do computers eat when they get hungry? A. Chips...
Q. What did the acorn say when it grew up? A. Ge-ome-try!

I remember this one from school:
Teacher: What's the formula for the area of a circle?
Student: Pi r squared
Other Student: No they're not, they're circles!!
We thought we were so clever when we "thought up" that one.

My favorite: One day a farmer called up an engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician and asked them to fence off the largest possible area with the least amount of fence.

The engineer made the fence in a circle and proclaimed that he had the most efficient design.
The physicist made a long, straight line and proclaimed "We can assume the length is infinite..." and pointed out that fencing off half of the Earth was certainly more efficient.
The Mathematician just laughed at them. He built a tiny fence around himself and said "I declare myself to be on the outside."
If you ever went to school with someone who was a mathematician, physicist, or engineer, you know why this joke is funny...(or maybe you married one??)

A nerdy chemistry riddle: A guy walks into a restaurant. He says to the waiter, "I'll have some H2O." His thirst is quenched and he leaves happy.
Another guy walks up to the same waiter and says, "I"ll have some H2O too." He dies. Do you know why?

If you get this one, you are definitely at least a little nerdy: There are 10 kinds of people in this world: Those who know binary code and those who don't.

Now, for the review...


That was just a little nerdy humor to lighten the atmosphere and get this review of Virtual Nerd off to a fun start. I want you to know that I am allowed to tell nerd jokes because, yes, I will admit it, when I was in school I was considered a nerd. All my friends were nerds. I took nerd classes, and I sat at the nerd lunch table. I am not too proud to admit it. My friends were nice (if a little off beat), my classes were challenging, and the conversations at the lunch table were never boring local gossip or on-dits about the latest "cool" singing group or movie star. They were actual conversations about real issues that mattered. Whoa!

I was really only marginally good at being a nerd, though, because while my scores on the SAT were better than average, they were not perfect (several of my friends achieved perfect scores). While I wound up going to a good college with some scholarships, I did not have a full ride to Harvard or MIT (some of my nerdy friends did), and while I liked being intelligent, it wasn't the be-all-end-all to me the way it was to them. So maybe I was just a nerd-hanger-on. Hmmm. I don't know.

The reason I am telling you all of this is to show you that I have experience with nerds and I know what I am talking about when I tell you that Virtual Nerd is nerdy in the very best way. It is filled with detailed explanations about topics that are difficult for some parents and/or teachers to discuss. Not only are the explanations detailed, but they are CLEAR to non-nerds, too (this is why I explained that I am atypically nerdy...math was not my strongest area, hence the not perfect SAT scores). Virtual Nerd is an interesting tool that you might want to consider using in your homeschool, or for your public schooled kids, if you find you are experiencing difficulties in the areas of Pre-Algebra, Algebra I and II, or Physics. You can go HERE to see a two minute demonstration video.

Introductory Video HERE

Let me tell you a bit more about the program: Basically, Virtual Nerd is a teaching program which uses videos and virtual whiteboards to demonstrate various techniques in the above listed subjects. The topics are arranged by difficulty, and build upon each other, just as you would find them in a well-designed textbook. In fact, if you are using certain textbooks, you can click on the textbook titles (listed at the bottom of the screen), and Virtual Nerd will direct you to the virtual lessons that correspond to each lesson in the text. This would work great for those who are in public schools (as a tutorial) or those who acquire public school texts like my friends in Florida do (discards are available to homeschoolers for free).

After you click on the topic you need to learn more about, then either a young lady or a young man (both nerds, I guess...very nice and clever nerds!) appear to explain the topic to you in VERY clear and detailed terms, using a regular whiteboard on the video. To the side, you will view a "virtual whiteboard" that shows color-coded step-by-step instructions which allow you to jump ahead to where you are having real problems, or go back to view something again. We never had any trouble navigating these areas of the tutorials, and found them to be useful and helpful. Along the way, my son and I figured out that the clever nerds who started this service took their strengths from college, put them to good use coming up with this program, and are now rich, clever nerds...what a great life lesson for him, and highly motivating (because they really do seem nice and we like to see nice people being successful...you can read more about the founders HERE, and you can find out more about their "Team of Nerds" HERE).

At this time, Virtual Nerd does not offer practice problems, quizzes, or evaluations of any kind, though their site says they plan to expand in this area this year. Instead, it is a teaching/tutorial system that my son Tex thought was "excellent and interesting to watch." (He's taking Pre-Algebra). He would get his assignment from the program he is using as his main math source, check out the instructions there, then watch Virtual Nerd to clear up any uncertainties. During the time he was using Virtual Nerd to clarify methodology on equations, etc., he did not once have a need to come and ask me to explain anything further. Several times, though, he came to me, having clicked on something ahead of where he is supposed to be, and excitedly explained what new thing he had learned! He also really liked the tutors. He felt both of them were friendly, knowledgeable, and polite.

Virtual Nerd has over 1,000 videos to help your student with their higher-level math and basic physics skills. Currently, there are Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, and Physics videos in place, with more subjects under development for the future (Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, and Chemistry). Virtual Nerd provides students, teachers, and parents, with the extra one-on-one instruction and tutoring so often needed for the areas of higher math and science. I might be pretty good at teaching up through Algebra, and great with Biology, but start talking Physics and Calculus and I will be the first to admit that I need HELP! Actually, for those parents who prefer to teach their own students EVERY subject, Virtual Nerd might just be the tool you've been needing to brush up on those rusty areas you haven't touched in a "few" years (lol...my kids think I'm old, too).

Says Josh Salcman, one of the founders of Virtual Nerd, in an interview with edtechdigest.com, "Beyond the benefits to students, Virtual Nerd also offers benefits to parents and teachers. For parents, we provide them an option to receive weekly email reports of how their child is using the site." This makes it even more useful as a teaching/tutoring program for homeschoolers (we homeschooling parents love to keep track of what our kids are up to). I couldn't find a link to info about this benefit, but if you have other questions about Virtual Nerd, they might be answered on this FAQ page.

Virtual Nerd pricing is a bit steep to my frugal and FREE!-loving mentality, but considering the price of a personal tutor, or the cost in frustration and wasted time should a student stall in one place due to an easily explained (by the right nerdy person) misunderstanding, or should they even have to take a subject again, the amount you spend on this program can be considered a well-spent investment. The company offers several pricing levels. The first is a one-day deal, at $5 a day. This is perfect for a student who is studying for a test the next day and absolutely can't figure something out. Awesome! The next levels are the one week plan for $19 and one month plan for $49. These are ideal for a student who normally understands the course material, but is having temporary trouble in one limited area. The last pricing plan is the most economical at $129 for a three-month subscription. This allows full 24 hour access from anywhere you have the internet for three whole months. If you aren't sure if Virtual Nerd will be right for you or your student, you can try the FREE!!! 2 hour trial tour by signing up HERE.

We really enjoyed participating in the review of this program and I will definitely be looking forward to procuring their services when it is time for my next student to take Chemistry and Calculus. I am soooo relieved, you just don't know!! This is an invaluable product for those who have a need for it, and if you need something like this, you will know that I am talking to you, and you will be sooo happy you heard about it here, on my ex-nerd blog.

Blessings to all,

Heather

**I recieved a complimentary trial of this product in return for a fair and honest review of the services provided by this company. The opinions and experiences you read here are my own and not intended to guarantee that your impressions or experiences will be exactly the same. If you have any questions regarding this product, you may feel free to contact me and I will do my best to answer them.

PS. I don't know if this promotion is still active, but if you are interested in subscribing, there is a place for promo codes, and I found one listed in an archived article HERE. It is worth a try...it's good for 50% off a subscription! You deserve a BONUS for reading this far...;-)

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

We are pleased to inform you that because Virtual Nerd (www.VirtualNerd.com) has received such significant interest following your review of our online tutoring service, we are offering a special discount to homeschool parents. Homeschool parents can receive 50% off the 1 and 3 month subscription plans. Just enter the discount code: homeschooldeal when you sign up for service. That is a huge discount, and hurry - the offer is valid until March 31, 2011!

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