Monday, March 22, 2010

Review: Pandia Press--R.E.A.L. Chemistry Level One

When it comes to science, one of the first things my children ask me--with their eyes as wide as saucers--is, "Can we make something explode? Huh, huh, huh?" {I totally blame that on their father's side...Ahem}

While our explosions have yet to rival those of a Hollywood film set (much to their dismay), we've really enjoyed learning the foundational aspects of chemistry, thanks to our latest review product.

R.E.A.L (Read-Explore-Absorb-Learn) Science Odyssey--Chemistry Level One from Pandia Press provides a very thorough and engaging introduction to the world of chemistry.

Written for students in grades 2-5, RSO Chemistry One features 400+ information packed pages and dozens of hands-on experiments that are guaranteed to make even the trickiest subjects (periodic table, anyone?) make perfect sense.

Some of the topics covered include:
  • Atoms and Molecules
  • The States of Matter
  • Chemical Reactions (aka: the ka-BOOM portion)
Chemistry One arrives in an unbound, shrink-wrapped, 3-hole punch format, ready to be inserted into a binder of your choice. While I must admit that this aspect is synonymous with easy-breezy photocopying, it did throw me off just a bit at first. You see, the idea of not having something perfectly bound in my hands just felt downright odd. However, I quickly got over my tactile hissy fit once I photocopied the first few lessons. ;o] Hee hee!

Now, speaking of lessons. Each unit begins with a...
  • Poem Page which introduces the unit's vocabulary words. Students can read, memorize, recite or illustrate these poems--or not. It's up to you. (We simply chose to read them.)
  • Next are the For My Notebook pages, which provide the "meat" of the lesson. These pages are written very simply, without coming across as foolish or demeaning. (Or worse--over their heads!)
  • Next, students use the Lab Sheets to record their hypotheses, lab results, answers to questions, etc. Each lesson contains anywhere between 1-5 hands-on projects.
  • The Instructor Pages provide the necessary supply lists (items are often found around your house/kitchen such as food coloring, or can be purchased at local grocery store with the exception of a science thermometer or polystyrene beads), as well as content to read aloud to the students.
  • Finally, a fun Crossword Puzzle serves as a review of that unit's vocabulary words.

Our Experience (Or Why I LOVE This Product!)

We're currently working through Unit 4, which is all about applying lessons from the Periodic Table. I've really enjoyed the experiments/activities, and love the fact that the Periodic Table is explained in such a friendly, conversational way that even the most scientifically challenged individuals can understand it. :o) Oh yes, and my kids were especially thrilled to work with marshmallows. Huzzah!!!

But what I really love more than anything, is the fact that there's virtually zero prep time involved. You simply copy the lesson pages, gather your materials and dive in! Simple. Easy. Effective. Perfect. {Whew!}

Now, I must say that even though we've enjoyed nearly all of the lessons/experiments, my children will still insist they "hate" science. :o/  {I think this is because it still counts as "school" and not "Nintendo" time.} However, be that as it may, I plan to continue using RSO Chemistry One through the remainder of the year. It's just too darn good to shelve and you never know when a chemistry question might end up on Jeopardy. (Or an assessment test...)

R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Chemistry Level One is available from Pandia Press for $38.99 (E-book download) or from Rainbow Resource for $38.50.  Check out the free sample pages (a whopping 57 pages worth!) by clicking here.

One final note: This product is not a "Christian" based product. Allow me to let Pandia Press explain:

"Our courses are secular, they are not written from any particular religious point of view. We hope that customers of all faiths will be comfortable using our materials. History Odyssey courses begin at 6000 B.C., therefore evolution is not applicable. A scientist whose only agenda is to teach science writes each R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey book. Therefore, R.E.A.L Science is not from a creationist’s viewpoint. There will be mention of evolution in level two and three courses (when available) as it pertains to science. There is no mention of evolution in the level one books."

While I personally have no issue with a mild evolutionary mention here 'n there (mostly because I skip over it or otherwise denounce it altogether), I did want to mention this aspect so you could make a well-informed decision based on all the facts. Okee doke? :o)

I personally love this product--really, truly pink fluffy heart love it--and give it two thumbs up!

*As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free copy of the above product for review. No additional compensation was provided and the thoughts/views expressed are my own.*

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