Friday, April 8, 2011

Investigating Science Weekly

In a Nutshell:

Science Weekly is a bi-weekly instructional module focusing on science and designed to look like a newspaper/periodical (reminiscent of Weekly Reader). Each colorfully illustrated issue is four pages long and covers one science-related topic at six different levels (one per order/paper). It is published fifteen times a year, and costs $19.95 per level for home use, or $4.95 per paper for groups of 20 or more. This product is for public or private schools or homeschoolers.


What Levels are Offered?
  • Level Pre-A (Kindergarten)
  • Level A (Grade 1)
  • Level B (Grade 2)
  • Level C (Grade 3)
  • Level D (Grade 4)
  • Level E (Grade 5-6)
What topics does Science Weekly cover?

Topics for the year 2010-2011 include: pulleys, cats, the flu, glass, fractions, composting, the science of movies, the science of money, scuba diving, poisonous animals, caves, teeth, deserts, green buildings, and the moon.

How many issues are there per year?

Science Weekly is published fifteen times per year, twice per month in September, October, November, January, February, March and April, and once in December.

How much does Science Weekly cost?
  • A yearly subscription to Science Weekly is $19.95 per child, with Teaching Notes included (one set of teaching notes covers all levels).
  • If you have an order of at least 20 subscriptions, you can get the classroom rate of $4.95 (these must be delivered to the same address). This could be ideal for a homeschool co-op or group.
What does each issue include (these components are what I saw in the issue we received and in the one available online)?
  • Main Concept introduction and information
  • Main Concept Vocabulary and activity
  • Weekly Lab (this was our favorite part...if you got in on a group buy, this feature just might make it worth it for kids loved the lab!)
  • Math and activity
  • Writing in Science activity
  • Challenge activity
  • Bringing it Home activity (Lower Levels only)
  • Meet the Scientist information (Upper Levels only)

Who would enjoy using Science Weekly?
  • A homeschooling family that doesn't have a formal science curriculum, but feels the need to include more science in their month, and would like a bit of direction. If your family enjoys getting mail, likes science, and doesn't mind digging deeper on their own into a topic to develop a useful unit study (ie. finding some real books to read , designing a project, guiding deeper inquiry-based discussions, watching a related movie, playing a game, etc.), you'd probably like this publication. If I was someone without a formal science curriculum, but wanted to do SOMETHING for science, this wouldn't be a bad place to start.
  • A homeschooling mom who has a child who is interested in science, and would like a small science supplement that arrives in his mailbox a few times a month. This child would need to be self-directed to get the most out of the included experiments and activities.
  • Any child who enjoys getting mail would probably like this, though there are other publications for the same price that will probably provide more information, reading opportunities, and more activities than what are offered in this small newspaper.
  • A parent who would like to encourage a young science-loving reader with something a little different than their usual basic leveled readers. You could order a level right on the mark for independent work, or one slightly more challenging and work on it together. However, they might just as well like to read a book on the subject.
  • Unschoolers, Relaxed Schoolers, Eclectic Homeschoolers, and Charlotte Mason types who want to have experiments and non-nature topics a few times a month might like this option.
  • A Homeschool Co-op Science teacher who can take advantage of the group rates (each parent paying for their own child's subscription) might find this a valuable supplement or base for her lessons.
  • Classroom teachers from Public and Private Schools would probably find this a useful tool for their classes. Several of the activities we saw involved interviewing or counting and tallying your classmates reactions/experiences. It brief and could easily be completed in one classroom period.
Who would NOT enjoy Science Weekly?
  • Someone who is looking for an all-inclusive curriculum solution to teaching science. This is a nice handout, but in order to thoroughly cover a topic (such as the flu, like on the issue we had), you would need to add picture books, deeper discussions, more activities, etc...and if your kids are anything like mine, they will want to know MORE than what is included in this publication.
  • Very science-y types will probably expect MORE than what is included in this publication.
  • Students at a higher level of reading will probably not be challenged by this publication, though if you purchased a middle level issue (say, Level C or D), you could ask that upper level child to be the teacher of your younger children when this arrives twice a month. It would be a good way to develop their teaching abilites, and they might be challenged to find their own MORE information before doing the activity with the little ones. I felt that the Level C experiment (of our trial issue on The Flu) made the most sense to all ages.
  • Tex (7th grade) felt that the information was waaaaay too basic and did not respect his intelligence or inquiry level. Harsh words, I know. He is also a year above the target age. However, I thought his comments were worthy of repeating because he is a voice for the older students. Now, this may be his opinion because we are HOMESCHOOLERS and thus used to using many resources very often from a much higher level than "the target age." Students who are schooled in a group setting might have a different opinion.
Overall, what did I think, as the teacher?
  • I really wanted to like it a lot. I really like the idea of using periodicals to supplement our education. We subscribe to several other newspaper-like publications and magazines, and I honestly expected Science Weekly to be more like them (more informative, more exciting, more current information, more challenging, more content, more activities), but with only four pages (and that means an 11x15 sheet of heavy paper folded in half printed in color) per issue, there isn't much space to do a lot with.
  • I just did not think that for the price of $19.95 per a child for 15 issues of four pages long it was a good deal. However, if you are struggling with where to go with your science, and feel you just need a little nudge to get you more involved with that subject, then maybe this is just what you need. I'd recommend ordering a higher level than your child needs (preview available levels by viewing the Coral Reefs issue HERE), then using the topic and information in the issue as an introduction to a bi-weekly science topic, then spending the rest of the two weeks until the next issue arrives digging in deeper by finding books to read, online activities to do, movies to watch, making a lap book, etc. Voila! Science.
  • If you had a co-op or group of local homeschoolers who would order with you to reach the 20 minimum orders to recieve the discount (hey, Homeschool Buyer's Co-op needs to do that!), then I can see ordering one or two subscriptions for the varying levels in your home as a supplement to your science curriculum, or as a jumping off point for your own science studies.
What did my mom, a Reading Specialist with 35 years of teaching experience, say when she looked through the publication (the one on flu and germs)?

"Kids need to learn about keeping germs away from others and protecting themselves from germs. This is a nice way to get them that information. I think it is a clear, simple introduction to the subject, and can help students practice their reading and thinking skills in an interdisciplinary way. I really like the visual representation of germ-sharing as shown by the experiment. After introducing the topic using Science Weekly, I'd also go to the library and find a few books on the subject, read them during the week, and it would be an easy, but complete lesson."

Her suggestions for adding to the unit: Germs are not for Sharing by Elizabeth Verdick, Germs Make Me Sick by Melvin Berger, Germs, Germs, Germs by Bobbi Katz, and Magic Schoolbus: Inside Ralphie by Joanna Cole.


**BONUS!! Info you want to know! Check out their new Interactive Issues HERE...each of these interactive issues (Pyramids, Living in Space, Kites, Hurricanes, Dams) is a fun way to try out their product. The BONUS is that each of these FREE! issues has MORE content and pages than the print version you receive in the mail. And guess what? You can print up these free issues (and their extra content), too. I think if the print version was as long as the interactive one, I'd be more likely to subscribe for the Three Amigos next year. Just a thought.

Another BONUS! Print up FREE! supplementary coloring books HERE for these topics: Sun, Dams, Hair, Photosynthesis, Gravity, and Forests.
If you would like to learn more about Science Weekly by checking out their site, go HERE.
If you would like to see a preview of Science Weekly, see HERE.
If you would like to order Science Weekly, go HERE.
If you would like to see what other TOS Crew members thought of Science Weekly, go HERE.

I received all levels  of one issue, with the Teaching Notes, in return for trying out this product in my homeschool and sharing our opinions about it in this review. If you have any questions regarding this product that I have not answered, please feel free to contact me.

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